Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tube drone and skip gigs - it's the Instal launch!

Well, that was a blast! What am I talking about? Why, the Instal launch of course. Last Thursday found us being plied with free whisky at The Arches before marching down to St Enoch tube station for a very special Nackt Insecten set. "Er, this might not work" said the organisers as a crowd of at least forty people waited for the train. There was a delightful sense of mischief in the air, the audience well aware of the slightly illicit and incongruous nature of what was about to take place. Happily, everyone managed to squeeze into an empty carriage and the gig was on. Out came a mini-keyboard, effects and a pair of boomboxes. Although it was at times hard to hear the cosmic drones and static interference over the rumble of the moving carriage, Nackt Insecten's sonics made enough of an impression to intrigue even those stuck at the back of the train. The odd random punter joined at the next stop, wondering what on earth was going on, only adding to the fun. Three stops later and it was all over. A genuine happening - inclusive, fun and somewhat audacious. More gigs should be like this.

With the first part of the evening's entertainment successfully concluded, it was down to Woodlands Road, where Edinburgh noise monkeys Usurper were performing in a skip beside the statue of cartoonist Bud Neill's greatest creation, Lobey Dosser. The newspaper who once employed Neill criminally threw out much of his original art work. Some of it was recovered from a skip by an artist, hence the site specific performance. You might say they were reclaiming the skip for creativity, as opposed to disposal. Whatever, it was a great wheeze, as everyone gathered round to watch Usurper in action and passers by looked on in bemusement - some even came over to check it all out, which was great. Photocopied Neill strips mingled with Usurper's equipment in a gloriously creative jumble. With numerous contact mics, pedals, and old Walkmen, the duo playfully, yet meticulously explored the sonic, and performative, possibilites of scraping and squeaking fingers across bin bags, rolling marbles across surfaces, dropping bottle tops, nails and other pieces of household detritus on metal and wood, reclaiming metal cd racks as wind chimes, and parping through rubber tubes. It was somewhere between dadaist sound artists the Bohman Brothers and a couple of tatrazine addled kids messing around. And hurrah to that, says I.

A great taster of things to come. And if you've never read any Bud Neill, I strongly urge you to. A hugely inventive comic artist, he combined Glasgow humour with Westerns, sci-fi and Cold War paranoia.

Thanks to James Cadden for the photos. To finish things off, here's Lobey, sallying forth on his two-legged steed El Fideldo!

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