Friday, June 04, 2010

Pre-Arran Thoughts 2: Counting Backwards

My seciond encounter with the contemporary post-avant this week was at Fuel yesterday. Mike Cannell, Holly Pester and THF Drenching. A very interesting evening.

First up was Mike Cannell, who I have to say was quite good rather than spectacular. His work is still finding its own direction; a lot of what he did was variations on the kind of sound poetry that has been going on since, well, Bob Cobbing. All very well, but not quite individual enough, though I liked individual pieces. And he had the most startling teeth I've seen for a long time, which did give an added frisson of creepiness to the performance. But it went on far too long; by the end of it I was beginning to lose all hope. Twenty minutes is about the attention span of most people; and he went on for twice that.

I think he's a promising name for the future, rather than a fully formed poet yet. But Holly Pester was terrific and really lifted the evening, She only read two pieces; which were both about 10 minutes long. In the first one, she read part of it using a public address microphone that made it sound like messages at an airport and it was a terrific performance. The second piece was one I'd heard before at the Other Room; but it was great to hear again, a kind of apocalyptic piece that might be about the end of the world, or the breakdown of civilisation. She was a quietly assertive presence at the front of an audience who were mainly much bigger than she is.

Finally, THF Drenching: an improvised set using various electronic noise-makers and drums in what was at times a wonderful cacophony of bleeps and hisses and clattering drums. I've never been a big fan of free improvisation; sometimes it's just three individuals doing their own thing; but I got the feeling that there was a lot of listening going on, and they complemented each beautifully, making at times lovely sounds, at others an ugly sound, but all somehow very well integrated.

There was, apprarently, a free-improv session going to happen after the next break; but by then, I was getting tired, last night's long night taking its toll.

It was a great evening, all told; and now I'm all ready to take my post-avant self to Arran.

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