It’s Music, Jim…

I went to the second of a new series of evenings at Cheltenham’s Slak Bar, called Chapter 24, having missed the first one last week with a bad back. (Digging, before you ask, “Oh, not hang gliding or anything glamorous like that then”, as one wag put it…) Not too sure of the flavour of the first evening but last night’s roster was just about as left-field as it gets.

Arrington de Dionyso

Arrington de Dionyso plays with a bunch of Beefhart devotees called Old Time Relijun, who make a pretty good racket, but do actually play… y’know … songs. Playing solo gigs, however, he shakes off all conventional tools such as… y’know… songs, and really lets himself go. To be honest I’m struggling to describe what he does, but this excerpt from his Myspace page probably tells you what you need to know:

Arrington de Dionyso uses performance as a vehicle for driving through the nameless territories held between surrealist automatism, shamanic seance, and the folk imagery of rock and roll. Pushing the envelope between musicality and pure energy, between shamanic ecstacy and lunacy, he enwraps rooms with resonant sound.

Got it?

Well, last night he played bass clarinet, jews harp, nose flute and some sort of tiny squeeze box that he held to his face. He’s also apparently a bit of an authority on Tuvan throat singing, which is commendably well explained here, but is a hard listen. Well, if you’ve been reading this Blog for long you’ll know that I’m a bit of a sucker for the weird and the original, I like all that. He started off playing quite a listenable Coltranish piece on sax, but pretty soon after that he disappeared off into those nameless territories, and to say I was lost would be understating the case pretty spectacularly. Let’s just say it got a bit difficult…

There were a couple of other pretty weird performances, including a really intense and incredibly distorted acoustic blues set from a Belgium feller called Ignatz, who worked through a series of feedback drenched bluesy drones which grew on me as the set went on.

The best set of the evening, however, was by a guy called Richard Davies, who organised the evening and performed under the name of Men Diamler. Richard has left a few comments on this site in the past and seems like an all round nice guy; and being as he was the one that put the bill together, and I’d certainly like to be invited to other gigs he arranges, it’s hard not to rave about the guy without looking like some sort of hopeless sycophant and ligger. But in truth his set really was the best and the only fault was that I could have done with it being longer. He played one long folky sort of song on a three stringed guitar and was backed by a couple of other guitars, loop pedals and various rather deft percussive effects.

It was heavily improvisational, involved stones rattling around in his guitar and throwing himself of a bar stool in a highly emotional state. Considering the does of the nerves he appeared to suffering when he met us as we came in, it was done with some confidence and self belief, and I really enjoyed it. As more than one of our group said at the time, “he seemed such a gentle bloke…”

Men Diamler does have a Myspace page but there is no music on it, which when he told me about it before the gig, I was surprised about but having heard the set, I can see why now. I have no idea how he could make a decent recording of that seventeen-minute epic, which is a shame, but just means your going to have to get out and see him yourself, which shouldn’t be too much of a problem, he gigs a lot (indeed he supported Rasha Shaheen last week in Bristol).

I have managed to find a few tracks to post, although none from Men Diamler, unfortunately (I’ll keep on at him about that…). The first two are by Arrington de Dionyso’s band Old Time Relijun and are worth a listen. The last one is the only track I could find from Ignatz, but again it’s a good piece.. You can buy his two albums from Emusic however.

Chemical Factory – Old Time Relijun
Earthquake – Old Time Relijun
Rebound from the Cliff – Ignatz

All in all the weirdest evening I’ve been to for a long time. Top class entertainment!