Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Rainbow in Curved Air

Last night saw me in Bristol's Old Vic theatre for the third night in a row, this time to see and listen to a performance of Terry Riley's "A Rainbow in Curved Air" by Charles Hazlewood's All Star Collective and Danceroom Spectroscopy. I'd seen the All Stars perform the piece last year - in fact, embarrassingly, their performance was my introduction to this seminal work - and was keen to hear it again, and whatever else they'd play in the concert.

Charles Hazlewood educates the audience prior to the performance
I wasn't disappointed; not at all. Charles Hazlewood introduced the piece with a short lecture about the nature of minimalist music and explained that the night's performance would follow the form of Rilley's piece but would be improvised and that the musicians would be interacting with Danceroom Spectroscopy's visuals.

Charles Hazelwood, Will Gregory, Ross Hughes 
And what a performance it was. Danceroom Spectroscopy' visuals were spot on, a great blend of abstract, photographic and algorithmic, and I enjoyed seeing the band members interacting with the visuals. Sonically the performance was grounded in the late 1960s with parts coming straight from Rilley's original and parts sounding like they'd been sampled from the more experimental parts of Pink Floyd's The Piper at The Gates of Dawn or from the first two Soft Machine albums. The piece became very free-form at times, and just as it seemed on the edge of falling to apart Tony Orrell's drumming would bring structure back into the piece and bring the audience to edge of their seats. 

Overall a great evening. I hope someone has recorded it and a copy finds its way in to my hands. The Pit at The Old Vic was a great place to see the performance from - although the next time I'll opt for standing rather than sitting. The only other thing I'd change would be to project the visuals over the whole performance area rather than on a screen - then we'd really be back in the 60s. 

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