Review: Toshimaru Nakamura/Håvard Volden and John Butcher/Rhodri Davies
(Café Oto, 21 February 2010, day 1 of a 2 day residency, review and pencil drawing by Geoffrey Winston)
The abiding memory of these performances is of an audience just listening – held. That’s what the musicians wanted. Exploring the creation of sounds, ways to bring the unexpected into being. But there was structure to hold the randomness together. John Cage would have approved.
Duets from Davies and Butcher, then Volden and Nakamura set the tone for their ensemble collaboration. Volden and Davies both playing table-top guitars, wired up, occasionally with objects added (similar to prepared piano), then subtracted, or incorporated alongside, vehicles for hand-prompted amplified pulses and resonances, whirrings of electrical whisks, toys.
Nakamura coaxed an astonishing quiet intensity, almost silent, but then grating, crunchy, from the equipment sprawled on a cramped desk space. There were no inputs from outside sources. Butcher’s extraordinary saxophone soundscapes came from the edge, audible, just recognisable; marvellously acrobatic, creating the essential balance in the rich, crafted mesh. Intermittent flashes of early psychedelia. The power was there, even in the quiet. If you’d heard a pin drop, you’d have assumed it was part of the performance.
Cafe Oto will celebrate Steve Beresford’s 60th Burthday on March 6th, and has a residency by the Sun Ra Arkestra from April 12th-14th