Sheffield writer Liz Searle reviews a unique evening of music in Bishops’ House
Bishops’ House is a Tudor building at the top of Meersbrook Park-well worth a visit on the weekend and definitely worth the walk (up, up and up) through the park if you’re fit enough. We went to see Nick Robinson, Frostlake and Sieben on 18th December, excited to get tickets (as it’s such a small venue, it sells out early) and looking forward to hearing new electronic music in an old and atmospheric setting.
Nick Robinson introduced the night, as it’s his mission to bring new sounds to the people: he’s selected a range of boundary-pushing musicians for past gigs and will no doubt be putting on more rare delights in the future. He also presented a short set of his own work-guitar and effects, punctuated by his own down to earth comments. That was the theme of the night for me-the humble nature of all the musicians showed their hard work and craft as performers, but also their humour and human nature when laptops and DI boxes did the unexpected.
Next was Frostlake, whose set I’d been gleefully waiting for since hearing of her album release. A solo project by Jan Todd, with support by local stalwarts such as Charlie Collins and Martin Archer, the album White Moon, Black Moon (available on Discus Music) has been getting attention internationally for its delicate arrangements and ethereal sounds. It was wonderful to experience it played live in such a strange environment, with stone walls and heavy wooden doors, the echoes of history all round.
At this point I have to confess that I’m a massive fan of Sieben, and have seen him play live many times-almost as many times as I’ve seen Dreadzone. After a year or so of not seeing him live, I was hoping for the usual spectacular stuff, and was very happy indeed to find that he’s still amazing. Basically if you haven’t seen Sieben live, go and see him next time you can.
Building up from absolute scratch, he creates loops of violin sound then layers on percussion (using his hands tapping on the violin or sometimes his stubble rubbing the microphone) and adds more effects and vocals. Add to that the combination of good natured chat, and multilingual swearing when things don’t go as planned, with sweat-inducing flicking between effects and loop recordings, spinning his bow round (and in the small space between the low beams of Bishops’ House, this is a terrifying feat) and animated gestures. This was a mesmerising performance for the eyes and ears.
Look out for more music at Bishops’ House and if you’re interested in visiting or volunteering there, check out their website.
Check out Nick Robinson here http://www.looping.me.uk
Find Frostlake here https://soundcloud.com/frostlake
And for Sieben try here http://www.matthowden.com