Thursday 10 July 2014, 8pm
Black Top, the duo of multi-instrumentalist Orphy Robinson and pianist Pat Thomas, is a shape-shifting unit dedicated to exploring the intersection between live instruments and lo-fi technology. Their virtuoso, freely improvised performances combine twisted loops, samples and dub-effects, which draw on their Afro-Caribbean roots, with a spontaneity and daring rooted in experimental free-jazz. Each in the series is moulded by the contributions of a unique guest collaborator. This performance, the eleventh in the series, sees the pair joined by Icarus, the electronic misadventures of Ollie Bown and Sam Britton.
UK electronic duo Icarus focus on the possibilities of improvised electronic music performance, perfected through custom performance tools and documented in albums that were either live or edited reinterpretations of live improvisations. They will be applying the principles of generative composition to Black Top's avowedly lo-fi improvisation, creating a technological counterpoint in which brain and computer compete to weave spontaneous original lines. Icarus exploit an effect similar to dropping ink into water, as their performance code directs a series of ineffable blips, interleaved with ambient sounds, in unforeseen directions. With a bit of luck this should reconfigure musical industriality into a dadaist work of precision chaos, but a freak occurrence could equally spell disaster for us all.
Orphy Robinson is one of the major figures of the jazz scene - he has released records on Blue Note and played with Don Cherry, David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Courtney Pine, Jazz Warriors and Andy Shepherd.
He has composed for Film and TV- including “In answer to your question” for the Balanescu String Quartet and “ 42 Shades of Black” for Phoenix Dance Theatre,which was performed at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Currently leads the groups CODEFIVE- NUBIAN VIBES - he also plays in the groups BRUISE and CLEAR FRAME
"As the saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter once famously remarked in a 1992 interview with Mel Martin, “The word ‘jazz’ means to me no category”. You would similarly search in vain for a pigeon hole in which to place Black Top #5. An evening of surpassing invention and ambition, there might be a more creative, more engaging and more inspiring gig at this year’s London Jazz Festival. But I somehow doubt it." - The Arts Desk
Pat Thomas studied classical piano from aged 8 and started playing Jazz from the age of 16. He has since gone on to develop an utterly unique style - embracing improvisation, jazz and new music. He has played with Derek Bailey in Company Week (1990/91) and in the trio AND (with Noble) – with Tony Oxley’s Quartet and Celebration Orchestra and in Duo with Lol Coxhill.
"Sartorially shabby as Thomas may be, and on first impression even rather stolid, he has a somewhat imperious charisma that’s immediately amplified when he starts to play. Unlike other pianists whose virtuosity seems to be racing ahead of their thought processes Thomas always seems supremely in command of his gift, and his playing, no matter how free and ready to tangle with abstraction, always carries a charge of authoritative exactitude." - The Jazzmann
Two man everything machine endlessly seeking what-the-fuck aural mesmerism in a maze like arrangement of physically overwhelming rituals of dance music, sound system culture, doom and pan-cultural psychedelics. Each member focusing intently on unmediated rhythmic interaction between crowd and performer, directing the energy towards unexplored altered states. Dark primal frequencies are felt and not heard, unremitting circular drums shatter and rebirth whilst a cast of vocal characters provide an astral guide through these dizzying manipulations.
Using only drums and processed cassettes, and incorporating many elements of avant-garde music and sound art in their realisation, Sly & The Family Drone are a primal orchestra of drum rhythms, radiophonic oscillator noise and electronically-abstracted vocals. They forge hypnotic, textural workouts in the vein of Black Dice, Shit & Shine and Crash Worship.
Sly's reductionist take on music is literal; they split their drum kit to its singular base units, passing individual drums to the audience who maintain the beat while they free themselves for more noise and freestyle mayhem, ultimately eliminating any boundaries between spectator and performer. This egalitarian approach propels audience and band together into a shamanistic setting of catharsis and anarchic celebration. By the end of the set their drums and equipment are scattered; the remnants of their music lying bare across the floor.
There is no place for guitars within this band.