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London Calling

Rhodri Davies

By Published: October 25, 2003

AAJ: Will that take another five years?

RD: I have got a fairly good idea of what areas I want to work in. So hopefully not, but then again they could change.

I then had the pleasure of a short demonstration of the techniques that Rhodri is developing. This included listening to the inside of his classical concert harp while he played it, an amazing aural experience, as well as Rhodri demonstrating his use of the e-bow. His next solo album should be very different to Trem , but just as innovative. Can't wait!

Meltdown

Curated by Lee Perry, the Meltdown season managed to live up to its title this year, achieving the kind of cross fertilisation and boundary breaking that it was originally intended to feature. The high point was the appearance of DJ Spooky alongside the Sun Ra Arkestra and Spearhead, an evening that highlighted the similarities between the late great Sun Ra and Perry himself, not least their somewhat idiosyncratic take on reality! The Arkestra evoked the spirit of their fallen leader wonderfully, taking me back to the heady days of 1990 when they toured the UK, culminating in a fantastically memorable gig at the Hackney Empire. Pure joy.

DJ Spooky again and Christian Marclay. Two very different DJs!

DJ Spooky popped up again at Spitz, as part of the City of London festival. This was a far better venue for him. In contrast to the rather daunting surroundings of the South Bank (where Spooky appeared at the London Jazz Festival and Meltdown), Spitz allowed an intimate atmosphere where people could dance - which we duly did. After an experimental set, complete with trademark Spooky visuals, he did a party set that had the joint jumping, demonstrating that his roots are firmly in the dance tradition.

By coincidence (I think), two days later Spitz played host to Christian Marclay, a turntablist of a very different stripe. Playing his first London gig for twelve years, Marclay was joined by Steve Beresford on assorted electronics and gadgetry. (I realise that Beresford has featured in six of the best gigs I have seen in London this year. Maybe it is time for London Calling to interview him?) Like many modern day improvisers, Marclay has developed innovative and novel uses of his instrument, up to and including de(con)struction of it. For lovers of vinyl, it is almost physically shocking to watch Marclay in action. (I imagine that guitar lovers had a similar reaction to Guitar Drag the Marclay film that ran at the Sonic Boom exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 2000. In it, an electric guitar, fully amplified, is dragged along behind a truck until it finally disintegrates.) Such is the violent abuse to which he subjects his records and his decks that I was frequently wincing. Nonetheless, he is a riveting performer who held the audience spellbound.

DJ Spooky's Dubtometry , the dub version of Optometry with Mad Professor and Lee Perry is available of Thirsty Ear.

Christian Marclay's Video Quartet runs at White Cube, 48 Hoxton Square, London N1 6PB [Tel +44 (0)20 7930 5373] from July 11th until August 30th. www.whitecube.com

Photo Credit
Peter Gannushkin



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