Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Dean Roberts goes to Jonestown

July 10th Gallery De La Catessan Anster Street Adelaide
( a review by everyone's favorite eccentric uncle)

De La Catessan is a great little performance space/art gallery run by Luke who happens to also live upstairs – a tiny piece of individuality tucked away in an alleyway in the city centre, let’s hope he can continue to survive. Tonight’s gig featured travelling minstrel Dean Roberts who has been an Autistic Daughter and a White Winged Moth along the way. I first saw Dean a couple of years back on a bourbon soaked afternoon at Synaesthesia in Melburg. It was cramped, hot, sweaty and he played a sublime acoustic, crackling set. Tonite he started with a visual/drone piece as we sat and he manipulated noise from behind us – the visuals flickering on the wall in front. Now, I tend not to pay too much attention to the visuals – usually finding that I can find my own dreamscape for the music. Tonite was no different with a murmuring of crowd noise from one speaker tugging at my memory cells until it dawned on me that it was the Jonestown Suicides filtering thru those speakers. Of course I’m probably the only person in the world that will pick that connection but there you go! The murmuring of the masses not sure whether to believe their messiah or not, the urging of the manic preacher to lay down their lives… then the sudden upsurge in pulse and pressure (not unlike incidently the pulse of Klaus Schulze Black Dance era) reminding me of the frantic need to escape, to live whilst all around the kool aid is being forced down children’s throats and a maniac is preaching death and new life – a relentless pounding of sound that slowly dwindles as life leaves the jungle and all that is left is the buzzing of the flies, the scavengers as they feast on the bodies. Like I said, you probably won’t find anyone else that will see that connection but hey, I’ve never run with the pack.
Local boy Daniel Varrichio was up next, picking up his guitar and earnestly plucking and picking to generate a sparse sound of string and loop. Now I’ve seen Daniel before and usually been impressed but tonite something was lacking – sorry mate. It was sounding like someone trying to do Table Of Elements era John Fahey but instead came out like that terrible Rounder records era- was it rounder? Whatever it was I once owned a cd by Fahey with a title about rainforests or something where he did a bloody Eric Clapton cover! Daniel was drifting dangerously close to that – not as bad but seemingly just as pointless. The second piece though almost redeemed him. Starting with the logical conclusion to da bruddas 1,2,3,4 - a repetition of the nada over and over that drifted into early Tom Verlaine (Hell’s Television era) before Tony Iommi (another good eyetalian boy) kicks in rampaging thru the national anthem black sabbath style – all the while with that verlaine/quine loop running behind egging him on. To be fair to Daniel he did say he’d had two hours sleep (World Cup Final) and hadn’t tackled his guitar in ages.

Dean came back on to finish the evening with a solo guitar set that had me thinking of John Cale circa Fragments of a Rainy Season or maybe Peter Laughner’s solo work but with more control over his emotions and his instrument; why do we seek comparisons anyway? Laziness, ato show how clever and well versed we are with obscure musicians? (In my case it’ to disguise my complete lack of musical ability – I suspect it’s the same with most critics) Here’s a good soundbite for you though – imagine Tim Buckley (Bizaar/straight label era) produced by John Cale. Whatever or whoever it sounded like it was a keening quiet voice accompanied by a tilting, jangling guitar that made you pause and lean in to hear each breath. If nu-folk was actually more like this and less like the aimless hippie jam/clever dickness that its turned into people might pay attention. Extra marks to Roberts for ripping off When I Was Young and admitting it!


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