Multi-Story Orchestra Rehearsal

Multi-Story Orchestra in their Peckham home

About this time last year I attended a concert by the Multi-Story Orchestra who perform, you guessed it, in a multi-storey car park. The orchestra is part of a wider arts project, Bold Tendencies, who have taken over the car park in the centre of Peckham, south London.

During the summer each year Bold Tendencies host a series of talks, concerts and art events. The roof of the car park is turned over to a great café and bar – Frank’s Cafe. As part of all this, the Multi-Story Orchestra play a series of classical concerts in their ’auditorium’ on the 8th floor.

Bassoonist with the Multi-Story Orchestra

…  several hundred Londoners joining in on the chorus of Wonderwall.

It’s quite a surreal experience. Imagine the typical multi-storey car park, low ceilings, harsh lighting. It is open on all sides, there’s concrete, lots of concrete and an orchestra! The day of the concert is one of those wonderful all too rare London days when the air is warm, there is barely a breeze and somehow all feels right with the world.

Mult-Story orchestra in their Peckham home

I’m guessing much of the audience aren’t familiar with Gérard Grisey’s Les Espaces Acousitiques, as I’m not. Never-the-less we sit entranced. My enduring memory comes in one of those unscripted moments. The other side of the railway is another building with its own roof top bar and their own performance – an Oasis cover band. As there is a lull in the music, across the tracks comes the unmistakable sound of several hundred Londoners joining in on the chorus of Wonderwall. Smiles spread across the faces of the audience. For a few seconds, two slices of London life are merged. Then as the orchestra continues those countless Noel’s and Liam’s gradually fade away.

Young musician working with the Multi-Story Orchestra

This year I’ve been lucky to work with the orchestra in shooting their rehearsals. The day of the rehearsal pictured here is very different from that day last year, thunderstorms were spreading across London, the rain hammered down. However, all that concrete isn’t easily intimidated. In that way the car park makes the ideal concert hall. It’s as though there’s no rain falling on the roof two floors above us.

Multi-Story Orchestra working with young musicians

For the second half of the rehearsal, the orchestra is joined by young musicians from local schools. It was great to see the musicians working with the next generation. From what I saw this year’s performances should be a treat.

Tuba player with Multi-Story Orchestra

Band of the Week: Corner Pilots

Rock band from the UK, Corner Pilots

Who: Corner Pilots

On their website, the Corner Pilots describe themselves as ‘a no-nonsense rock band hailing from Surrey’. A description which makes them sound less than they are. It may be factually correct but it smacks of being a little … suburban and their music certainly isn’t. A no nonsense rock band from New Jersey or Detroit, yes. A no nonsense rock band from London or Manchester, maybe, but Surrey! I guess if you are an aspiring rock band from the leafy suburbs there’s not a lot you can do about it – apart from maybe leave it off of your website.

Rock means so many different things to different people. To Death Metal fans it’s not rock unless your ears are bleeding in the first 30 seconds and it’s so loud it feels like your head has been anaesthetised for at least a day after. This is not that sort of rock, this is the rock of The Enemy, Arctic Monkeys or Royal Blood.

The band comprise Dan Stafford – vocals, guitarists Josh Bennett and Jake France, Ben Mawdsley on bass and drummer Reece O’Brien.

When: There’s not a whole lot of information about the band online, they were formed in 2014, there are a few a tracks on Soundcloud going back just over a year.

What: In an if-you-like-that-you’ll-like-this way the Corner Pilots remind me of Jack White post The White Stripes, which is a very good thing in my book. They write all their own music, which is something I’m thinking of making criteria for entry here.

… this is the rock of The Enemy, Arctic Monkeys or Royal Blood.

The difficulty for a relatively unknown band, doing their thing, trying to get gigs locally is the proliferation of cover bands on the pub circuit. You can understand the attraction if you run a town centre boozer, between major football competitions what better way to pull in the crowds than an Oasis or Beatles cover band knocking out the hits. It doesn’t really matter if they’re not that good, a couple of chords into Wonderwall most of the pub has joined in and you can’t hear the band anyway. So fair play to those pubs who do make the effort to showcase local bands or the likes of Corner Pilots would find it far more difficult to come to the fore.

Why: I need to be better at making a note of how I come across bands, I’m afraid I’m going to have to plead ignorance on this one.

Where: They seem to be gigging around London fairly regularly. They’re playing as part of an Absent Kelly Emerging gig at the O2 Islington on 8 July 2016.

Have a great week. Have any new music you’d like to recommend? Hit me up at @nigelrumsey

Band of the Week: Mirror Gaze

an audio tape of Watch by Mirror Gaze

Who: Mirror Gaze

It’s only week two and already ‘Band of the Week’ has gone slightly awry. The plan had been to buy that tape, the one up there in the photo. To gripe a bit about how tapes were inexplicably becoming popular again, to grab the associated download then to give the tape away to anyone who has something to play it on.

However, the problem, actually the first of several problems, is that I was so dismissive of the whole tape thing I’d assumed they couldn’t possibly sell out – got that wrong. Gone, every last one!

Next, the name ‘Mirror Gaze’, great in theory, in practice you try googling mirror gaze. What you get is lots of people talking about staring at themselves in the mirror – honestly, try it, apparently it’s a thing. So, if you’re desperately trying to find information on a band of the same name, you’re out of luck. The album name ‘Watch’ doesn’t really help in this context! Not quite as bad as calling your band ‘video porn’ – but not much better (please don’t test that if you’re under 16)!

So here’s what we do know. I’m recommending a band I haven’t been able to find online, who’ve made one album I haven’t yet heard and has now been completely withdrawn from sale. It’s so withdrawn from sale when you click on the link that says ‘Email me when this tape is back in stock’ you get an error message – basically saying ‘there is no hope!’.

I understand this is now feeling like a ‘Band of the Week’ that has no band and no music!

To the rescue comes music-geek-nirvana in the shape of Soundcloud. (Would Nirvana have chosen the same name in the age of the web? – discuss)  There are these three tracks, the only three I’ve heard and the reason I’m recommending Mirror Gaze to you.

When: I came across them last month from on one of Norman Records excellent newsletters, if you’re not subscribed you should be.

What: I did have some success online. I found that Mirror Gaze are a duo consisting of Claire Bailey and Jim Knight. What I didn’t know before I started writing this is that Claire Bailey is an analog photographer and artist, you can see some of here work on her website.

Why: Mirror Gaze are an unexpected mix of psychedelic rock and pop vocal, although when you listen to the vocal it’s darker than you first imagine. I have to admit it’s Claire Bailey’s vocal that does it for me.

My favourite track is probably ‘You don’t know’, the first track above and also the first on the on the album. Having said that it’s the vocal that draws me in if you’re a fan of the bass guitar then you’re not going to be disappointed, Jim Knight knows what he’s doing. The guitar solo on the end of ‘Connection’ is masterful.

Where: Don’t ask me. I will update this if I hear more or if the tape is reissued. If you have more information about Mirror Gaze please get in touch. Happy listening.

Band of the Week

My notebook & pen while writing my Band of the Week post

I’m increasingly enjoying the process of blogging. There’s something about the act of sitting alone with my notebook and pen that’s very freeing. As someone who’s generally smitten with the digital age, it’s come as a bit of a shock to find that I just can’t manage to write on a laptop – I need a pen in my hand. It could be because I’m not the fastest typist, I can certainly write quicker than I can type, but whatever the reason it just doesn’t flow so easily from the keyboard.

There’s nothing a music geek likes more than trying to persuade someone else to listen to the new band they’ve discovered.

My laptop wile writing Band of the Week post

Just as I’d begun to enjoy the process I came up against what I assume every blogger must at some point, what exactly should I write about? My photography is always going to be at the core of what I talk about here. Trust me you don’t want regular missives from my subconscious.

Sooo, I have been listening to a lot of new music recently and I’d love to share some of it. There’s nothing a music geek likes more than trying to persuade someone else to listen to the new band they’ve discovered. Bear in mind this is a middle aged bloke talking so quite how ‘new’ this music proves to be may be open to debate – but most of it will be new to me.

I finally understand John Peel eulogising over music made by bands 30 years his junior.

I remember the excitement as a teenager in discovering a new band – even if it was via BBC Radio One, so technically half the teenagers in the UK were ‘discovering’ the same band at that exact same moment. Well, the news is that feeling can be just as captivating, different, but still captivating as you get older. I finally understand John Peel eulogising over music made by bands 30 years his junior.

All this leads me to say I’m going to commit (to attempt – just covering myself) to write about one band each week. I’ve decided to snappily call this new feature ‘Band of the Week’ – impressive huh, I’ve been working on that a while! The bands may not always be on the bleeding edge of cool, but it will be what I’m enjoying at the time. I’m aiming to get the first post up next week, so keep an eye out (or you could subscribe – it’s over there on the right).

I also really like the idea of featuring guest posts, hearing what you’re listening to, so if you’re interested please get in touch.

In the meantime keep enjoying the new.

I love this picture: a smile on her face

The band Lux Lisbon on stage at the Scala

I was going back through my pick of the shots I took for Lux Lisbon trying to decide which I prefer. I love this picture, it isn’t technically the best shot and it’s probably not the one most people would choose, but it works for me.

What it does is embodies the mood of the night. The Scala is the largest venue Lux Lisbon have ever played, it is sold out, the place is rammed, the band have just played a great set, it is the last date on their tour and everyone is having a great time.

I love this picture … a smile on her face, says ‘we did it!’

Most of the evening I was sitting in the pit in front of where Charlotte was playing and she had an amazing smile on her face. It was obvious she was having the time of her life and this moment towards the end of the night where she lifts her hands above her head, the smile on her face, says ‘we did it!’

That’s why it works for me. If you get the opportunity go to see Lux Lisbon play live, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. There’s more info on their website and you can even download a free 10 song EP, how many many bands do that.