Piano, laptop and paintbrushes aren’t the mostly likely of trio line-ups. Whatever: the Vortex, with its open-minded, listening audience is the perfect place to give it a try. This improvised spectacle of sound and colour was provided by pianist Dave Morecroft (World Service Project) effects man Leafcutter John (Polar Bear) and artist Gina Southgate (previous work on the walls of the club). The set, consisting of three improvisations and one original composition (Morecroft’s Underneath) saw every number yield its own painting, composed using the various paints and tools by the stage.
This was an evening for bold gestures by all three artists. Morecroft kept disappearing inside the piano to slap and strum, Southgate slashed at the canvases and, after much squeaking and squealing, a stunned Leafcutter John popped a balloon in his own face. The audience were transfixed by Southgate’s movements, the sounds of which Leafcutter John recorded and manipulated. The abstract soundscapes created never lacked momentum and fused at times into pulsing groove-like trance.
The trio gradually found each other as the set progressed. It was a fascinating process to witness. Magic occurred near the end of the set when cathartic block chords, layered vocals and clattering print-making coincided to smiling approval.
I hope there’s a follow up gig. See you there.
Picture credit: Cross-dress String Quartet by Gina Southgate from http://www.vortexjazz.co.uk