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Match&Fuse Dublin 2017

Ian Patterson By

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It’s been really intense, but in a very positive way. Totally inspiring. —Heidi Heidelberg
Match&Fuse Dublin 2017
dlr Lexicon, Dun Loaghaire,
Dublin, Ireland
September 16, 2017

"We are Rocky Road and we've existed since Wednesday," bassist Anneleen Boheme announced to the Saturday afternoon audience of the first Match&Fuse festival to be held in Ireland. Well, we're used to pop-up shops after all, so why not pop-up improvised music?

Match&Fuse was conceived by London musician/promoter Dave Morecroft in 2011 as a festival and touring project to promote some of the most exciting and adventurous underground bands across Europe. There are some similarities to the model established by 12 Points, though Match&Fuse has its own distinct character—the main difference being the collaborative character of Match&Fuse, which connects European collectives, improvised scenes and producers, drawing on an ever-expanding network of booking agents, artist management agencies, promotors and record labels.

Reciprocal tours and double-bill tours have given bands the opportunity to play outside their established territories to new audiences.

And, unlike 12 Points, there's no application process for participating musicians in Match&Fuse; recommendations from within existing networks on the suitability of musicians suffice. To date, Match&Fuse has annually rotated a fairly traditional festival model—that's to say, with a number of participating bands—in Norway, Italy, Poland, France and the UK, but there was little traditional about the format of the first Match&Fuse in Ireland, held in the picturesque seaside town of Dun Loaghaire, County Dublin.

Director Matthew Jacobson [of AERIE and ReDivideR fame] spoke of the inherent appeal of Match&Fuse: "As an artist myself, as a musician, the thing that always interested me about Match&Fuse was meeting other musicians, learning from each other and sharing everything."

To that end, Jacobson took the bull by the horns, by pushing the collaborative ethos to the max. He invited nine musicians from continental Europe and three from Ireland—most of whom had never previously met each—and 'fused' them into three groups. Three days of rehearsals later, they were stuck on stage before a paying public to improvise.

To build a festival around such a concept was a bold move, and perhaps it was no coincidence that the event was scheduled between 2pm-5pm, so that there were no hard choices for the public between, say, Sunday lunch/dinner and several hours of improvised music.

The approaches taken by the various groups to the task of becoming stage-worthy—revealed to varying degrees during the performances and related in conversation with the musicians afterwards—provided an eye-opener into collaborative philosophies and functional group dynamics at work.

First up, the aforementioned Rocky Road: Anneleen Boheme (Belgium, double bass/voice); Carla Gaudré (France, saxophone); Chris Guilfoyle (Ireland, guitar) and Noé Tavelli (Switzerland, drums).

Guilfoyle described how his group's collaboration had evolved during rehearsals. For the first half day, he related, the band had worked with written material, but this approach hadn't proved entirely satisfactory. "We were interacting, but it felt like we were roughly on different pages," admitted Guilfoyle. "In the second half of the day we said 'Forget about it, let's just play,' so we kind of threw out most of the written material and then we started working on this whole theme thing. Adding one little thread of an idea -it really brought us together."

The 'theme thing' involved the audience, pre-gig, jotting down a theme on a piece of paper. During the performance the group randomly selected themes and improvised accordingly.

Guilfoyle's pedals engineered an otherworldly ambience on "Waiting for Santa Claus"; "Anyone for Tennis?" saw a back-and-forth exchange between the guitarist and Gaudre's echoing soprano saxophone; "Girls Dancing in the Grass to Attract their Dinner" elicited a sense of hilarity and inhibition over strong rhythmic pulses, the quartet eventually falling into a collective groove; "The Sea," meanwhile, provoked a fascinatingly impressionistic response bordering on the psychedelic.

Even if the themes hadn't been named—and in doing so perhaps placing subconscious meaning on the music for the audience that mightn't have suggested itself otherwise—what was undeniable was the quartet's chemistry, whereby most of its improvisations could easily have passed as fairly sophisticated through-composed pieces.

The second group comprised Hilde Marie Holsen (Norway, trumpet/electronics); Julien Desprez (France, guitar); and Lynn Cassiers (Belgium, voice, keys, electronics).

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