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Far Rainbow featuring Cath Roberts, Colin Webster, Tullis Rennie - Noon:22nd Century Rating: 3-5 out of 5 Weirdly compelling, never less than interesting, and strangely enjoyable.

Far Rainbow featuring Cath Roberts, Colin Webster, Tullis Rennie

“Noon:22nd Century”

(Zero Wave ZWAV005)

Far Rainbow is a London based improvising duo comprised of sound artist Bobby Barry and drummer Emily Barnett.

The pair first started playing together in 2014 and describe their set up as “Emily mostly using percussive things and Bobby using a variety of electrical things”.
Those “electrical things” are often constituted of every day household objects with the group’s stage gear tending to include some, or all, of the following;
drum kit, bubble wrap, plastic bags, sellotape, hair brush, shaver, electric toothbrush, various small motors, taped field recordings, guitar FX pedals, pencil sharpener, egg slicer and a small portable vacuum cleaner.
Most of the duo’s performances are freely improvised but they have also performed existing avant-garde works such as “Stones” by Christian Wolff and “Nivea Cream Piece” by Alison Knowles.

In 2015 Barry and Barnett began curating events under the name Zero Wave hosting performances by a wide range of improvisers, among them such well known figures as Steve Noble and Charles Hayward, at a variety of venues across London. As well as performing at their own Zero Wave Club events Far Rainbow have also appeared at numerous experimental and improvised music festivals around the country,  among them the Dronica Festival in Stoke Newington.

In early 2016 Far Rainbow embarked on a series of collaborations with other artists. Explaining the motivation behind this Barry remarked; “I had always felt somehow that our music slunk somewhat into the background, that it created an atmosphere more than it related a narrative”.

With this in mind the duo invited a series of guest artists to join them in a series of performances at the Zero Wave Club’s HQ at the Fiddler’s Elbow in Kentish Town. The first concert featured Barry and Barnett in a collaboration with synthesiser artist Homodular, the performance being documented on the cassette / download release “In A State of Weightlessness”.

Next up was the author John Doran who added his words and voice to the duo’s music in a performance released in the same format as “Area Forecast for the Borough of Camden”

The third featured Far Rainbow playing alongside two of London’s leading improvising saxophonists, Cath Roberts on baritone and Colin Webster on tenor. This performance is documented on this latest cassette / download release “Noon;22nd Century”. Like the band name Far Rainbow the album title is taken from the writings of the Soviet era Russian science fiction authors, the brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.

“Creeping Over the Yellow Space”, the piece created by the duo in collaboration with Roberts and Webster lasts a little over twenty six minutes and occupies the first side of the tape.

Side two features the near twenty eight minute “A Broad Trembling Cloud” recorded at a separate event in Canterbury and features Far Rainbow in conjunction with Robert and trombonist Tullis Rennie.

“Creeping over The Yellow Space” commences with the sound of recorded birdsong allied to the furtive shuffling of percussion. The birdsong expands to embrace a veritable panoply of jungle sounds, some of them pre-recorded, others presumably generated in the moment by percussion and electronics and with the saxophonists possibly making use of extended techniques. In Far Rainbow’s world it’s not always easy to identify the provenance of sounds. There’s no real beat or pulse as such but there’s something oddly compelling about the music which embraces of elements of musique concrete and contemporary trance, drone and noise. Gradually the saxes become more readily identifiable but Roberts and Webster continue to push their instruments to the limit via the use of harmolodics and vocalised cries. The mood is often dark with the ominous drone of Barry’s electronica and the disembodied rumble of Barnett’s percussion, often sounding like distant thunder, allied to the more humanised sounds of the horns. 

“A Broad Trembling Cloud” was recorded at the same Free Range event at the Waterlane Coffeehouse in Canterbury that provided some of the pieces on the recent Roberts/Rennie duo release “Blurts/Growls”, making for a nice synchronicity between the two albums. My review of “Blurts/Growls” can be read here;
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/cath-roberts-tullis-rennie-blurts-growls/

“A Broad Trembling Cloud” commences with the sound of a sampled human voice, rather in the manner of Gavin Bryars’ “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet”, and the sparse rattle of Barnett’s percussion. That voice, which sounds like that of an American evangelical preacher, continues to weave in and out of the piece as Roberts and Rennie add musical flesh to the bones of the piece with their intertwining lines, the pair again testing the limits of their instruments. Although the piece shares many of the same characteristics as its companion on side one there’s a more obvious forward thrust in the opening stages courtesy of that looped voice and Barnett’s recurring drum motifs. Things then take even more of an abstract turn when the voice drops out and Barry sets up an all embracing electronic backwash above which Roberts and Rennie improvise, deploying their impressive techniques to generate a fascinating series of breath generated sounds that act as a humanising counterpoint to Barry’s electronica. However the mechanised sounds subsequently take over with a persistent, metronomic, metallic beat suggesting that we’re listening to sounds generated in the bowels of a particularly brutal and soulless factory. There’s a chilling sense of alienation that recalls early Krautrock pioneers such as Faust, and maybe even Berlin era Bowie.

The music of Far Rainbow doesn’t make for easy listening and I appreciate that it won’t be to everybody’s taste. For myself I found it weirdly compelling, never less than interesting, and strangely enjoyable. Like most freely improvised music it would have been even more satisfying to have been there at the moment of its creation but the album still stands on its own merits, even though it’s something that you might not find yourself playing all the time. 

Barry and Barnett are genuine experimenters and their persistent pursuit of interesting collaborators suggests that they’re not musicians who are content to sit on their laurels. These are characteristics that apply to the guests on this recording too, particularly the restlessly creative and entrepreneurial Roberts.

Further information on Barry and Barnett and their various projects can be found at; http://www.zerowavemusic.tumblr.com

“Noon;22nd Century” and other items from the Far Rainbow catalogue can be purchased at ;
http://www.farrainbow.bandcamp.com

Noon:22nd Century

Far Rainbow featuring Cath Roberts, Colin Webster, Tullis Rennie

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

3-5 out of 5

Noon:22nd Century

Weirdly compelling, never less than interesting, and strangely enjoyable.

Far Rainbow featuring Cath Roberts, Colin Webster, Tullis Rennie

“Noon:22nd Century”

(Zero Wave ZWAV005)

Far Rainbow is a London based improvising duo comprised of sound artist Bobby Barry and drummer Emily Barnett.

The pair first started playing together in 2014 and describe their set up as “Emily mostly using percussive things and Bobby using a variety of electrical things”.
Those “electrical things” are often constituted of every day household objects with the group’s stage gear tending to include some, or all, of the following;
drum kit, bubble wrap, plastic bags, sellotape, hair brush, shaver, electric toothbrush, various small motors, taped field recordings, guitar FX pedals, pencil sharpener, egg slicer and a small portable vacuum cleaner.
Most of the duo’s performances are freely improvised but they have also performed existing avant-garde works such as “Stones” by Christian Wolff and “Nivea Cream Piece” by Alison Knowles.

In 2015 Barry and Barnett began curating events under the name Zero Wave hosting performances by a wide range of improvisers, among them such well known figures as Steve Noble and Charles Hayward, at a variety of venues across London. As well as performing at their own Zero Wave Club events Far Rainbow have also appeared at numerous experimental and improvised music festivals around the country,  among them the Dronica Festival in Stoke Newington.

In early 2016 Far Rainbow embarked on a series of collaborations with other artists. Explaining the motivation behind this Barry remarked; “I had always felt somehow that our music slunk somewhat into the background, that it created an atmosphere more than it related a narrative”.

With this in mind the duo invited a series of guest artists to join them in a series of performances at the Zero Wave Club’s HQ at the Fiddler’s Elbow in Kentish Town. The first concert featured Barry and Barnett in a collaboration with synthesiser artist Homodular, the performance being documented on the cassette / download release “In A State of Weightlessness”.

Next up was the author John Doran who added his words and voice to the duo’s music in a performance released in the same format as “Area Forecast for the Borough of Camden”

The third featured Far Rainbow playing alongside two of London’s leading improvising saxophonists, Cath Roberts on baritone and Colin Webster on tenor. This performance is documented on this latest cassette / download release “Noon;22nd Century”. Like the band name Far Rainbow the album title is taken from the writings of the Soviet era Russian science fiction authors, the brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.

“Creeping Over the Yellow Space”, the piece created by the duo in collaboration with Roberts and Webster lasts a little over twenty six minutes and occupies the first side of the tape.

Side two features the near twenty eight minute “A Broad Trembling Cloud” recorded at a separate event in Canterbury and features Far Rainbow in conjunction with Robert and trombonist Tullis Rennie.

“Creeping over The Yellow Space” commences with the sound of recorded birdsong allied to the furtive shuffling of percussion. The birdsong expands to embrace a veritable panoply of jungle sounds, some of them pre-recorded, others presumably generated in the moment by percussion and electronics and with the saxophonists possibly making use of extended techniques. In Far Rainbow’s world it’s not always easy to identify the provenance of sounds. There’s no real beat or pulse as such but there’s something oddly compelling about the music which embraces of elements of musique concrete and contemporary trance, drone and noise. Gradually the saxes become more readily identifiable but Roberts and Webster continue to push their instruments to the limit via the use of harmolodics and vocalised cries. The mood is often dark with the ominous drone of Barry’s electronica and the disembodied rumble of Barnett’s percussion, often sounding like distant thunder, allied to the more humanised sounds of the horns. 

“A Broad Trembling Cloud” was recorded at the same Free Range event at the Waterlane Coffeehouse in Canterbury that provided some of the pieces on the recent Roberts/Rennie duo release “Blurts/Growls”, making for a nice synchronicity between the two albums. My review of “Blurts/Growls” can be read here;
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/cath-roberts-tullis-rennie-blurts-growls/

“A Broad Trembling Cloud” commences with the sound of a sampled human voice, rather in the manner of Gavin Bryars’ “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet”, and the sparse rattle of Barnett’s percussion. That voice, which sounds like that of an American evangelical preacher, continues to weave in and out of the piece as Roberts and Rennie add musical flesh to the bones of the piece with their intertwining lines, the pair again testing the limits of their instruments. Although the piece shares many of the same characteristics as its companion on side one there’s a more obvious forward thrust in the opening stages courtesy of that looped voice and Barnett’s recurring drum motifs. Things then take even more of an abstract turn when the voice drops out and Barry sets up an all embracing electronic backwash above which Roberts and Rennie improvise, deploying their impressive techniques to generate a fascinating series of breath generated sounds that act as a humanising counterpoint to Barry’s electronica. However the mechanised sounds subsequently take over with a persistent, metronomic, metallic beat suggesting that we’re listening to sounds generated in the bowels of a particularly brutal and soulless factory. There’s a chilling sense of alienation that recalls early Krautrock pioneers such as Faust, and maybe even Berlin era Bowie.

The music of Far Rainbow doesn’t make for easy listening and I appreciate that it won’t be to everybody’s taste. For myself I found it weirdly compelling, never less than interesting, and strangely enjoyable. Like most freely improvised music it would have been even more satisfying to have been there at the moment of its creation but the album still stands on its own merits, even though it’s something that you might not find yourself playing all the time. 

Barry and Barnett are genuine experimenters and their persistent pursuit of interesting collaborators suggests that they’re not musicians who are content to sit on their laurels. These are characteristics that apply to the guests on this recording too, particularly the restlessly creative and entrepreneurial Roberts.

Further information on Barry and Barnett and their various projects can be found at; http://www.zerowavemusic.tumblr.com

“Noon;22nd Century” and other items from the Far Rainbow catalogue can be purchased at ;
http://www.farrainbow.bandcamp.com


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