Time Attendant at Cafe Oto

I need a new pair of ears. I've become a bit sensitive to loud noise and that, sadly, includes music. It's not going to stop me though, I've just got to remember to take the foam earplugs with me when I go to music events. Perhaps a new brain is in order too since I forgot to take them with me on our recent visit to Cafe Oto for a night of musical delights, and consequently I had to spend some of the night outside, peering in through the window like a peeping tom.

We went primarily to see Time Attendant but there were about five or six separate performances. We missed the first act but managed to see the second, Jecklin. This was a single performer playing a Contrabass saxophone and managing to make it sound like a cello. Very haunting, beautiful and uncluttered. I liked the scratchy background sound and occasional understated beats creating a deeply desolate and esoteric set.

Ah, that was nice...now what? Oh my gawd! A bloody deafening, totally in-your-face set by three young players who were very, very good. Only drums, guitar and saxophone but boy, were they wild! They reminded me of Soft Machine in places but there was nothing soft about them at all...this was the deafening bit I was referring to earlier. They were called Lake of Snakes but I will rename them Hard Machine because there was a bit of the old head banging element to them too.

Afterwards, another solo player called Aqua Dentata and I was back in from the cold. Mmm...this was nice and ambient with undulating drones, and much appreciated by my ears after the last lot, but sadly for me it went on too long. Getting the right length of performance matched with what someone is actually producing is often a problem. Unless a piece is really developing I don't see the point in going on for ages; keep it short and to the point that's what I say because we found ourselves saying things like "Is it dead yet?", which is a bit mean.

After a short interlude we found a good seat to listen to the one we came to see, Time Attendant, who is Paul Snowdon. He's a nice fellow who we chatted to prior to the performance, so I liked him before we got to hear his music.  His sounds take you on a journey and for me that was a journey through space. Multi-layered throbbing, distortions and warping, deep textures, scratchy rhythms, bleeps and distorted voices, all building up to some totally amazing beats that made me want to go a bit crazy even though I was rooted to a chair. Dark and heavy elements and lots of imaginary landscapes that conjure up bizarre visualisations...such as a space-train going into a black-hole, in my case. Towards the end of the journey the sounds became more abstract, perfectly winding down the set. Loved it!

 He's also an accomplished artist, like many of the best musicians.

The Forgotten Instrument
Paul Snowdon

Novelty Automation

Having time to kill this morning in Holborn, I thought I'd have a mooch around and by doing so I chanced upon an odd-looking shop. I quickly locked up my bike and doubled back not quite believing my eyes. And yes, lo and behold, here was a shop containing hand-made automatons. Not the usual thing you would expect to see in this area at all. The machines are quite large, (due to the fact that you can physically engage with them) and can be operated by buying tokens. I couldn't bring myself to use them on my own but I'm definitely going to go back with Slim Jenkins (just one of Robin's alter-egos) to check it all out, and soon.

Are these machines art? Are they trying to be? I don't know... but they are very close if not. In fact, one of them, ironically, is dedicated to finding out if the object you insert into its hole gets the thumbs up or down as to whether it is art or not. Well I'd better get my work checked if that's case, eh readers?

There are automatons for Money Laundering, Micro-breaks, Divorce, Chiropody, Instant Weightloss and one entitled Pet or Meat, complete with a swingometer and a moving lamb perched on the top, amongst others. They all have an anarchic, humorous and irreverent element to them which makes it all the more amusing. Also, they have an obviously hand-made finish which lends them a definite charm.

I would recommend going but not on your own, this is something to enjoy within a small group.

It's free to get in and the machines cost 1-2 quid to play.
Open Wednesday 11am - 6pm
          Thursday 11am - 7pm
          Friday 11am - 6pm
          Saturday 11am - 6pm

1a Princeton St,

More info here

John Golding (1929 - 2012)

Kings Place
(90 York Way, London N1)

If you find yourself in the area of Kings Cross take some time out to check this exhibition entitled John Golding: Finding the Absolute. These large paintings, from the 60s, are technically intriguing once you're up close and personal. Just how did he get such hard edges on such lumpy ground? How did he manage to bring straight and curved lines together with such balance? These are some of the questions you may find yourself asking once you get up close. Superb colour combinations will strike you from a distance but when you get in closer you'll realise that what you thought was solid flat colour is in fact dappled and nuanced and at times opalescent...It's on until 4th April 2015 and free to get in.

Vol de Nuit (1966)