Tuesday 12 November 2019, 7.30pm
Michele Mercure often dreams of music, and in her waking life, reclaims fragments of these fleeting, floating melodies in her compositions and sound art. Beside Herself, an anthology of Mercure’s self-produced and distributed cassettes released between 1983 and 1990, collects these dreamlike passages and lo-fi nocturnes, preserving the qualities of discovery and intimacy surrounding their genesis.
Mercure’s sound is a porous electronic art that overlaps ambient, abstract, and industrial sensibilities – its spaciousness reveals an artist attuned cinematically rather than for radio play or public performance. She approached the latter theatrically, and rarely, disdaining most live shows as too serious, and bringing her music to bare on her audiences in playful, immersive contexts. On recordings, Mercure’s night lit synth music evokes non-confined environments, at once expressionistic and minimal and always aware of its surroundings.
Rimarimba was the project of Robert Cox, based in Felixstowe, on the seaside in Suffolk, UK. Rimarimba was not Cox’s first entry into the world of recorded music, but was the first time he explored, most perceptively, the parameters of a particular musical mode: one where minimalism is removed from its “high-art” mantle, Cox inveigling its practices in amongst the do-it-yourself creativity of a burgeoning and beguiling underground, letting the music breathe – and most importantly, letting it play, gifting it with imagination.
That sense of play is writ large across the four Rimarimba albums being circulated again, or in Light Metabolism Number Prague’s case, being made newly available. There’s an unaffected, warm-hearted joy to be heard in Cox’s music, hypnotic patterns unspooling from a Pandora’s-box of mass-produced and home built musical instruments, intertwining, tangling up in each other, and then riding out the road until they’ve said their piece, often parking somewhere surprisingly unfamiliar to where they started. Sometimes, it’s as though Cox is channelling preconscious phrases, tunes that exist in some kind of primordial soup of music, the storehouse of melody that we call upon in our most hallucinatory, incantatory moments.