Review: A Night of Heliocentric Duo Exchange at Café Oto

Dylan Nyoukis and Thurston Moore: Lucifer Duo at Café Oto
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved


Thurston Moore & Dylan Nyoukis, Sharon Gal & Andie Brown, Byron Coley & Savage Pencil: A Night Of Heliocentric Duo Exchange
(Café Oto, 20 August 2013; review and drawing by Geoff Winston)


For a quiet August evening this was a lively affair at a buzzing Café Oto.

Thurston Moore proposed and facilitated three markedly different duos with inspired, oblique takes on the worlds of sound and words. Each performance was a single piece of around thirty-five minutes making up a balanced, stimulating and concentrated programme.

Opening were Thurston Moore and Dylan Nyoukis, their first performance together as Lucifer Duo - a musical conversation cast as 'The Fireside Chat', which well described this gently extreme conversation comprising explorations batted back and forth by Moore's blurry electric guitar treatments and Nyoukis's out-on-a-limb vocals, electronics and wired-up violin. The volume was down, which gave these interrogations a deceptively pastoral feel, taking in Moore's Indian-tinged zithery strums, and shuddering, muted distortions and Nyoukis's mouthy clicks, Noh vocalisings and frayed bowings - an exercise in quiet thunder and jarred sonics which brought a smile to Moore's face at its conclusion.

The Dancing Shadows Duo, Sharon Gal, vocaliser extraordinaire, and Andie Brown, sound artist and bassist, developed an exceptionally intense dialogue around Gal's anguished, dark vocal expression. Brown's eyes followed Gal's every deviation, allowing her to build up an ominous, humming environment that the agony of Gal's intimations of the horrors of today's Guernicas would inhabit. Like Phil Minton, Gal presents a disembodied and uncomfortable mirror of our times in an allusive, yet direct, manner. Vocoder-like mouthpieces allowed Gal's speech to briefly take on a siren tone and Brown to add additional indistinct layers. Brown's oversize water-filled wine glasses, rims wiped to draw out whining sounds, and Gal's tinkling chimes were foils to the raw drones, wails and screams released with such passion in their moving performance.

The Galacto Fidelity Duo gave voice to the poetry of Sun Ra. Massachusetts-based music writer, Byron Coley recited a selection of Ra's disarmingly stark insights in to the human condition - accompanied by the strikingly bearded, behatted and dark-bespectacled Savage Pencil (aka Sav X/Edwin Pouncey) on Moog, who provided insistent, thrumming engine pulses and eerie echoes, carefully modulated to synchronise with the sense and intensity of the rapid-fire stream of words. Coley's articulation caught the spirit of Ra's thoughts and cerebral flow, with its mix of hipster jargon and outraged pronouncements from his extra-terrestrial alter ego viewing the follies of humankind, in fitting succession to Gal's desperate entreaties, seemingly from the battlefield that Ra observed with disbelief. "I'm in orbit, man!" Coley declaimed. We certainly were!

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