‘Marijuana grows wild in Bhutan’, Graham Daniels of Addictive TV explained at the Rich Mix arts centre last night. A large cow nonchalantly lazed on the grass on the big screen behind him. ‘That bull is stoned. That’s how we could get so close.’
It was halfway through an evening of live innovation with Trip Hop originator Howie B, soully-folk from Kizzy Crawford and audio-visual sampling from Addictive TV.
Bhutan was one of the exotic recording sessions on Addictive TV’s five year odyssey around the world, during which they compiled a large audio-visual database to use in their Orchestra of Samples. When not filming hoofed pot-heads, Daniels and Mark Vidler concentrated on recording musicians, some playing recognisable instruments, some unusual instruments and others home-made contraptions – one musician filmed outside a scrap yard taps enthusiastically on an old suspension spring.
The Addictive TV duo sample from this large archive to create songs, mixing not just music but the associated images of the musicians playing. These are projected simultaneously, a different performer in each part of a split screen. With samples from over 150 musicians, including Stereolabs’ lead singer Lætitia Sadier and even Motorhead’s original drummer they have created a virtual super-group of musicians who are playing together but have never met. It’s a clever cross-cultural idea, but images don’t mix as well as sound. The visual samples are long and isolated visually from their neighbours. What results is like a music video that has a fixed camera on every member of the band, which becomes repetitive and not as addictive as the name suggests. For some live visual excitement the duo were joined on stage by beatbox champion Bass6, sitarist Baluji Shrivastav and violinist Shona Mooney, who will next be seen in London at the Barbican in April accompanying the silent film Annie Laurie.
Earlier the evening kicked off with a set from Welsh singer-songwriter Kizzy Crawford on electro-acoustic guitar and violin. Named as one of the BBC’s Horizons Acts for 2015 Merthyr Vale’s Crawford is a confident, expressive performer, nimbly strumming her instruments whilst tapping the guitar pedal boards with unshod feet. Showcasing her new single Shout Out she impressed with the breadth of her inspiration. After all, songs of love you’ve heard hundreds of times. Songs of pain and heartache you’ve heard thousands of times. But how many songs have you heard about a girl trapped in a tower block whose only way to escape is to teach a starling a welsh song? High marks for lyrical originality for this eyes-closed, heart-felt young singer.
Finally the night came to a close with legendary producer and DJ Howie B playing a unique, fully improvised live set. An influential figure in electronic music for two decades he is credited as one of the inventors of trip-hop and has collaborated with Soul II Soul, Bjork and Brian Eno. Glasses hanging from a hole in his mustard sweater, hands darting from laptop to keyboard, twisting knobs and pressing buttons to build his rich soundscape, Howie danced happily behind his desk. This is a man who clearly enjoys his work. With no visuals, no gimmicks and no bare feet it was all about the music, creating an atmosphere for people to dance and forget.
And so to bed.