Review: Roads Less Travelled: EFPI Manchester Showcase at The Forge(LJF)

Alice Zawadzki , Jon Scott
©Melody and Ian McLaren

Roads Less Travelled: EFPI Manchester Showcase
(18th November, The Forge, Camden. Review and photos by Melody McLaren)

One of the joys of the London Jazz Festival is that you can get pushed out of your musical comfort zone, if you allow it to happen. Everyone has a choice: stick with your favourites or trust the brother-/sister-hood of musicians to take you on a journey to someplace you’ve never been before.

Such was the case with Silence Blossoms, the Swedish trio who opened the EFPI Manchester showcase at The Forge in Camden on Sunday. Sam Andreae (a Manchester export returning to his home country for the group’s UK debut), Gus Loxbo and Hanna Olivegren have been travelling along the borderlands of music, exploring the sonic possibilities of an array of everyday objects - portable radios, saws, hand-held fans – as well as synthesizers and other forms of electronica. Listening to them blend all these with more conventional instruments (double bass, tenor sax, guitar and drums) as well as their voices, I suddenly realised that many of the everyday devices in my own kitchen – the dishwasher, dryer, coffee grinder – had rhythmic and harmonic possibilities that I had never considered. But this wasn’t just random noise. The entire panoply of devices, instruments and voices had been commandeered to support storytelling, with conventional themes of love and loss conveyed in an altogether unconventional way.



Silence Blossoms
©Melody and Ian McLaren


In an ironic twist, Silence Blossoms have released their new album on cassette, a retro musical distribution form that disappeared long before any of this fresh-faced Trio were even twinkles in their parents’ eyes.

The storytelling continued with the Alice Zawadzki Band, who had just enjoyed a successful gig at the cosy Green Note on Thursday. The spacious environment of The Forge allowed the full range and texture of Alice’s voice and violin to resonate up into the Gallery. Kit Downes - another musical adventurer whose experiments with prepared piano and animation have proved hugely enjoyable - supported the narrative weaving on Hammond keyboard, along with Alex Roth (guitar) and Jon Scott (drums). Again, there were stories of love and broken hearts (“Flowers bloom because they believe in sun and rain, just as I exist so you can come round to me again”, as well as whimsy (eg being captured by the soul of a cat). Vocalist Fini Bearman added a complementary vocal dimension to the group on Low Sun, Lovely Pink Light.

Overall, EFPI brought us a fascinating afternoon at The Forge, courtesy of musicians who are all taking roads less travelled. Safe journeys to all of them.
Alice Zawadzki Band
©Melody and Ian McLaren

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