Ivan Hewett’s Telegraph review of the first night of this year’s third Loop Festival at the Forge Venue in Camden captured the spirit of the whole enterprise very accurately:
“Loop Collective [is] a bunch of musicians with the likeable trait of sharing ideas and resources. During the Festival’s opening gig at the Forge, a cool, wood-panelled, galleried venue in north London, each band listened in to each other’s sets and between times manned the joint CD stall. The sense of communal endeavour was as cheering as the music itself.”
I heard four acts during the Festival – (PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ADD COMMENTS AND BROADEN THIS OUT!)
– (Thursday) I heard the duo of Mathieu Donarier and Poline Renou, Kindergarten, which describes itself as “an acoustic project off the beaten track.”
Donarier has been heard in other contexts in London, on soprano and tenor sax, but he is capable of making the kind of sweet sounds on a clarinet which I have never, ever heard before. He plays that extinct beast, the metal clarinet. The metal clarinet was only ever made between 1889 when Conn took out the patents and 1940, and is generally written off as a historical aberration. There is a specialist site for if anyone apart from me is in clarinet-nerd mode.
Donarier has found a particular instrument on which he can play exceptionally in tune. He does a reed-slappery which makes the clarinet sound like a thumb-piano. The duo play short compositions, mainly by Donarier, and work hard at blending the voice and the clarinet sound. The results – eg on a track called Jig-Jig from Kindergarten’s album on Yolk Records (scroll to bottom of page, it’s the featured track) have to be heard.
– Arthurs. Hoiby. Ritchie is a good vehicle for Arthurs to build his quietly persuasive narratives, and the strong, swaggering musical personalities of Hoiby and Ritchie. There was more presence in Arthurs playing here than in the Berlin group he brought to last year’s Cheltenham Festival.
– Fringe Magnetic. This band was a great closer for the evening. An upbeat, lively and expert nine-piece plus vocals was getting energetically stuck into some brand new compositions from Rory Simmons. I had to bale out before the end, but there were colours a-plenty in the orchestrations of the bits I heard, and it gave me appetite to hear the whole set. In the exuberant first number, it was as if Copland, Stravinsky and Gil Evans had met and combined their best features. I also enjoyed the opening conversations of the second number “Only a Poltroon (Despises Pedantry)”, which cunningly combined bass clarinet (the strong voice of James Allsopp) with cello, plus flute and vibes (the crystal clear voice of Jim Hart). Can someone tell me where this band is booked to play next? I’d love to hear it again!
– (Friday) Pianist Alcyona Mick, with the ethereal sound of violinist Calina De La Mare and the subtle voicings of guitarist Jon Wygens performed Alcyona’s score for the silent film Sunrise. The music captured the shifting moods of the film deftly and subtly. I thought it worked brilliantly, and would go and see/hear it again without hesitation. At 70 or so minutes it is the perfect length,and never outstayed its welcome. It was slightly confusing to be watching a Czech print of the film, which is mainly set in the US, but it added old-continent charm. We also interviewed her and previewed this gig.
We’ve had a few comments on the Loop Collective Festival, notably on the audience …..HERE