Improvizone

21st gig: Thursday 05 March 2009 at The Plough

Andrew Booker 2009-02-27 07:46:35

Three weeks ago we played our first Improvizone gig this year at The Plough, E17. It had just stopped snowing, I'd been out with the phone video camera and committed several minutes of snowscapes to mp4, and Mike, Os, Nick and I convened for a couple of hours of hoochies, alcohol and substance abuse. No! Sorry... don't know what I was thinking... a couple of hours of semi-chilled semi-ambient improvisations. Yes!

I've been listening to the recordings and a lot of it sounds great. An emerging problem is that the good bits are all lasting way longer than 10 minutes, which is my self-imposed limit for our mp3 downloads. It's a nice problem to have, and I'll get round to editing bits down soon. Os has conveniently circumvented the length issue by posting whole chunks of video of plenty of our last gig at The Plough here, here and here, overdubbed with his ableton recordings of the gig. These are a great way to find out what we sound like as a whole without me chopping the session up and dishing it out in tiny download pieces.

The first one of these, which I've linked to on this page, is my favourite, because it shows exactly what we look and sound like once we get going, and I think the arrangement where we sit in the corner in semi-darkness under some mutating projections is works really well.

It also shows exactly what we look like before we get going, and as you can see, the transition from the before and after states of starting an Improvizone gig is pretty casual. I guess it's the point at which we turn the lights off. As a collection of performers, perhaps an Improvizone requires a little refinement here. If there was anyone actually watching at this point in the evening, we might feel it was worth refining. As it is, our slightly disorganised is-this-really-a-gig approach isn't quite watchable. I find myself scooting forwards to the point when we all four start playing.

I might get onto the subject of our gig structure, and whether it's really any good, another day. Meanwhile, poking the aching tooth over and over in a masochistic exploration of the exact point where curiosity gives way to pain, we're doing another gig next week. And this time I'll have the free CDs!

If you've been watching the site, you would have seen next week's gig date flittering between the Wednesday and the Thursday. You'll be truly fascinated to hear why. The Plough had the Thursday free, so I booked it without confirming with the others. I never do. Os couldn't make it, so I shifted it to the Wednesday after a quick call to the venue. Who then rang me back saying the Wednesday was not free after all. So I decided to cancel it. And then I thought, no, I'll just prod the aching tooth with a cocktail stick and find the odd new person to try out.

The lack of Os, who has been recording our gigs for over a year, means I have to dig out my old recording setup, gather up a load of leads, and see if I can remember how we did our early gigs (our first was two years ago today). Oh, and I bought a very remedial looping pedal (Boss RC-2) to use with my MIDI notes, and I'm going to try some vocal looping as well. I'll tell you all about how I get on with that after the gig.

Meanwhile, as a parting treat, enjoy former Improvisonary Simeon Harris fabricating some utterly sublime soundscapes at http://vimeo.com/2697148. I certainly did.

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