Yesterday I waded through a rowdy pub filled with customers chatty voices that on their own seem to resemble an unplugged vocal noise set loud enough to make your ears beep, deep inside it there i had found a little ‘private’ door leading up to a style change of reality. A little hallway filled with a staircase that presumably could lead to nothing brought me to the 155th episode of Scaledown.
Within a decor that had more in common to a surreal scene in a David Lynch movie than anything else, a polite crowd of good spirited seated audience members sat excitingly on their chairs. It was enjoyably ramped and seem to be hosted by two jolly music enthusiast whose names have left my brain on this instant. I’ve heard so much about this long running music and art event named Scaledown – even visited it one time in secret before – immediately running out as I couldn’t handle the instant greetings of menstruation poems spoken out by a posh looking young man; I guess my mind can be bit too visual at times…
But now, on the last day of London being in the European Union I went for it, nestled myself among the people like a true undercover agent ready to blend in with the mixture of loyal Scaledowners and other guests. On our seats we can find already proof of the love going into this event; the program of the night with lovely descriptions of the performing artists and a funny picture of a moustached cowboy upfront. A good mixture of taking themselves not too serious while at the same time taking it serious as well. We get an apology for a last minute change of direction as one of the promised acts decided that her set wasn’t suitable for the event, but luckily Tim Holehouse would function as the delighted opener of this interesting evening.
Tim’s set filled up the room with an enigmatic sound and feel, with a guitar and special effects he sure underlined the blurring of reality and surreality. Sounding like half troubadour whose voice sounded big and wealthy, obviously having seen a lot around the world as a traveling musician & his expertise flowed out in unexpected ways; think of acoustic drones that became quite hypnotic, abstract sceneries that at certain times made me think of the speeding train sounds of my earlier ride on the London Underground but than so much more enjoyable.
He sang and even took up his throat singing skills which he normally would use to signal his drummer to stop playing; as a solo artist it was clear the man’s sounds did not need anyone else to intrigue and fill up the space with hypnotic charisma similar to a folk punk sailor who had sailed the seven seas of music & now returned appreciatively to the humble Scaledown vibe.
Tim Holehouse’s music made me happy to be there, slipping solidly deeper into my secret undercover seat as Michelle Penn and Jeffery Sugarman took over the microphones for a seemingly fun game of tag poetry. Both in their best spoken words and mannerisms they read out personal poems one after each other.
Michelle’s book ‘self portrait as a diviner, failing’ and Jeffrey’s ‘Dear Friend(s)’ where hot items on the merchandise table – almost turning into a stampede by the Scaledowners aiming to get their hands onto a copy. Penn’s honesty and uplifting spirits and Sugarman’s raunchy (did I hear ‘a carpet full of semen’?) queerness for sure had many ears flapping.
After a little break there was something that brought lots of joy to the evening, an excellent smile-generating performance by Richard Sanderson and David Little. One of them escaped my lazy photography attempts and I’m not sure exactly who (youthful case of dementia = a reporter’s worst nightmare!). The duo that was armed with a solid noise gear and a accordion + a very highlighting triangle was easily elevating the heads of the sobbing remainders in the roomy night of brexit happening.
Laughter and fascination unarmed each other as the English folk song got a delighted screwed out lovely rework that brought great humour to the noise palette of sound. The entire Scaledown crowd was into the moment – forgetting all their problems and mutually felt a bonding into the hilarity of this excellent duo that crossed the boundaries of sound, humour and pisstaking excellence.
Music is the key to the universe and the way to our hearts and with this in mind it was time to keep up the high spirits and step into the dreamy paper boat of Bloom de Wilde, who sang her natural heartfelt timeless songs of fishes, meowing cats and delighted gloomy days on a palette of ukulele strings.
With her warm golden voice and humour nestled within her lyrics the entire Scaledown zone seemed to be teleported into a imaginative reality in which you could sniff the smell of blossoming flowers and feel the sun on its best universal days. Together with Kai’s sounds Bloom filled the place up with colours of love, purring purrs, humble bumble bees and kind winds blowing through the trees. They got lost in time and nobody seemed to mind as a crowd of smiley loving adults happily meowed along.
After a mini break it was another exciting time for me personally, as I’ve heard the music and noises of Slate Pipe Banjo Draggers before, probably writing a review for it here on the humble blog that you are reading right now… but actually seeing and hearing an artist playing live is a whole next level experience & flipping heck and perhaps unsurprisingly Slate Pipe Banjo Draggers did not disappoint!
A very spectacular hypnotic sound collage that professional music reporters would classify as ‘trippy shit!’. I don’t know how but the sound gained a very psychedelic feeling, throwing bells at us that felt hauntingly bizarre, full of kind distortion and the needed field recording of authentic English cursing words really made it into a fascinating noise set that would probably had the powers to let the rowdy crowd at the pub’s bar below to stop talking – question their mind for sanity & probably assume their had been some devilish deities being born in the private place upstairs.
At the end there was a special toot boing pep squeak performance by My Trio, consisting of Dave Fowler (drums) , Sebastian Sterkowicz (bass clarinet – guitar) & Jordan Muscatello (double bass) & it has to be said, was probably the nicest free improvisation that I’ve heard. Very entertaining and perfectly in sync with each other, clearly feeling each others powers and strengths without any egomaniac tendencies & instead all three of them working together as one brand new individual.
They felt each other as if they had been blood related family members with a wireless connection to give lots of playfulness and surprises along the way! A very delightful ending of an era and the 155th Scaledown episode! If the UK doesn’t kick my foreign ass out I’ll hope to visit another one in the near future! Surreal and cozy, interesting music and noises and a wonderful audience that is actually there for the experience – which is a rare, but surely a wonderful reality!