Wednesday 27 July 2016, 8pm
Great line-up from the ever-awesome Blackest Ever Black label featuring Mick Hobbs Officer! project, Berlin-based Australian artist Carla dal Forno, and Finnish autodidact composer/improviser Timo van Luijk – aka Af Ursin.
Officer! is either Mick Hobbs alone or Mick Hobbs with friends. Now recognised as a key figure in the tangled history of London’s DIY underground, the mercurial Hobbs cut his teeth in the RIO scene of the late ’70s and early 1980s, initially as guitarist in The Work (alongside Bill Gilonis, Rick Wilson and Tim Hodgkinson), and subsequent related groupings The Lowest Note, The Lo Yo Yo, and The Momes. During this time he became closely associated with This Heat and their Cold Storage studio in Brixton, working with the likes of Flaming Tunes, Catherine Jauniaux and Zeena Parkins. The Officer! project formally surfaced in '82 with Eight New Songs By Mick Hobbs: it marked the arrival of a singular writer and improvisor, with a gift for plangent melody, ingenious arrangement and lyrics at once pointed and allusive, playful and profound. The Cold Storage-recorded Ossification arrived a year later; Megaphone Records, responsible for the LP’s recent 30th anniversary reissue, describe it as “one of the most unusual, pleasurable and character-filled ‘pop’ records anyone has heard…songs that contain the spirit of pop, rock, medieval, avant-garde, R.I.O., The Work, Family Fodder, This Heat, Look de Bouk, Legendary Pink Dots, Henry Cow…a timeless anomaly in the history of recorded music.” Two further Officer! albums followed in the 1980s (Cough and Yes Yes No No Yes No Yes), before a lengthy hiatus. In 1995 Hobbs, by now a member of Jad Fair’s Half Japanese, cut one last Officer! album in Baltimore and London, but it was shelved, for reasons no one seems able to remember; this “lost” album was finally issued by Blackest Ever Black nineteen years later, in 2014, under the title Dead Unique. Having returned to the stage for BEB’s fifth anniversary celebration at the ICA last year, Officer! will perform at Oto as an extended ensemble, with Hobbs joined by a sprawl of longtime fellow travellers and special guests, including Mary Currie (Flaming Tunes), Benb Gallaher, Joey Stack and Rick Wilson.
Hailing from Melbourne and based in Berlin, Carla dal Forno is a solo artist as well as member of the groups of F ingers and Tarcar. Architect of languid, dubwise, richly atmospheric art-pop, her floating alto addresses timeless themes of love and loss against backdrops of haunting, understated chamber instrumentation and astral synth drift. April saw the release of her ‘Fast Moving Cars’ 7", heralding the arrival of her debut solo LP, due to be released by Blackest Ever Black in Autumn 2016.
Af Ursin is the alter ego of Finnish autodidact composer/improviser Timo van Luijk. He began his musical activities in the mid-1980s, co-founding the Noise-Maker’s Fifes collective with Geert Feytons in ’89. During the ’90s he developed his solo work under the name Af Ursin, before establishing his private press, La Scie Dorée, in 2001. It continues to act as the main platform for his own music, including regular collaborations with Christoph Heeman (as In Camera) and Andrew Chalk (as Elodie), while his other label, Metaphon, is focussed on archival presentations from the likes of Michael Ranta, Joris de Laet, and IPEM.
Van Luijk’s work is rooted in the use of acoustic instruments (wind, percussion, strings), but his special sensitivity to the timbral qualities of each instrument, and his deft blurring of them, results in a sound-world that is mysterious, amorphous and hallucinatory. Over time he has evolved his own richly poetic musical language, full of allusions to drone, acid folk, classical, Musique concrète and jazz, but beholden to none. Blackest Ever Black recently reissued one of his finest works, 2005's Aura Legato.