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Fort Process 2016

welcome to Fort Process 2016Newhaven Fort, East Sussex
3 September 2016

It sounded like bedlam from the car park, quickly replaced by some deranged Frenchman chucking stuff around the parade ground, his shouts and clattering, laptop-captured from the fortifications and spurted back in jabbering cut-ups. Welcome to Fort Process part deux, spun off in blaring megaphone, smashed metal, Dada antics that flew close to injuring the onlookers.

The schedule was definitely bulging this year, overlapping goodness that meant everybody would probably have a different experience of the day. But what the hell, there was plenty to see: I really wanted to check out Skatgobs, Kemper Norton (having loved his albums’ folkcore sensibilities) and the mysterious Limpe Fuchs, so decided to navigate the day around those loose compass points.

Graham Dunning live at Fort Process 2016John Chantler live at Fort Process 2016Anyway, the beauty of this mini-fest is sampling the unknown, and Graham Dunning‘s  turntable antics were one such delight. His pickups flickering sculptured triangles of groove, contact mics held over the spin scaffolded by chemistry paraphernalia, hitting placed objects, creating tiny abstracts, the whole caboodle building up the irregularities mimicking the automated mechanics of techno, the slow slippage of wonky dub. Fascinating the lengths people go to create toe-tapping goodness. Over at the Romney Hut, John Chantler was dishing out some really loud electronics, meaty abstracts. Somebody in the sidelines was  squirting coloured gels on to glass, projecting the results behind the performer, splattered contours raving to the sonic explosions.

Hákarl live at Fort Process 2016Henry Collins live at Fort Process 2016

The slow string evolves of Hákarl, Rebecca E Davies and John Guzek droned the pale blue skyline, the eastern gun emplacement transformed into a wartime sound mirror full of imaginary aircraft. Contrasting with the abrupt hoots, barks and snivel-yelped comedy of the Skatgobs in the Grand Magazine, the old munitions store rang like an asylum as choirboys Phil Minton, Dylan Nyoukis and Luke Poot synapse-bled some tiny surprises of melody from all that mouthyjazz.

More delights ensued. Fedschtshak‘s full-on noise to the lush smell of spilt beer in the narrow needle. Short gasps of subterranean words down in the red hues of the Caponier, the tunnels echoing  manically with pre-recorded Skatgob action. Catching the end of Audrey Chen‘s set in the theatre, her unbelievable vocals firmly entrenched in the Yoko Ono sonically scary camp, viscerals slowly collapsing into a oozy bliss of folding harmonics.

Henry Collins in a wheelie bin, raising merry hell with Jason Williams equally immersed in disfigured sonics and crashing cymbals. Joe Henderson‘s nuclear command post show dense and howling as uniformed mannequins looked lifelessly on. The chaotic caustics of  Toshimaru Nakamura back in the Romney Hut were startlingly original, jaggy maggots swamping your ears in high-pitched scars and dirty jack ziggurats that ripped into the buildings corrugated crown.

Kemper Norton live at Fort Process 2016

The day just flew by; later that afternoon Kemper Norton’s ghostly ambience  fitted the haunted Caponier depths completely for an intimate set full of superstition and creeping folklores, made even more so by technical issues that brought forth some excellent acoustic recoveries. Harmonium and vocals that sucked in the rooms mouldering paler, sounds caught in the throes of some incidental birdsong and the fateful sound of the ocean below. An unscripted spell, glowing in understatement.

Waiting outside for Carla Bozulich to soundcheck, the heavens literally opened, but all this was forgotten when her skullflower intensity hit. The audience huggled round the quink-inkiness of it, all bathed in wasping guitar and spiked arabesques. I really wanted see Pierre Bastien (anybody that makes musical Meccano is good in my book), but having missed Limpe Fuchs earlier on I was determined to take in her wares instead. The only difficult decision  of the day, but staying put in the chilly bunker that was the Grand Magazine seem a good one.

Scrying Ylem live at Fort Process 2016

Scrying Ylem and the tasty avant classical sounds that followed more than made up for it though, their vibes resonating beautifully off the large white bow of the whitewashed walls and ceiling, Daniel Mackenzie‘s stuttering piano explosions and accompanying string arrangements generating a pindrop intensity, the odd scraped coin in the piano innards giving me those eye-widening shivers. Adam Bushell supplied some excellent vibraphone action too, giving us a gorgeous John Cage rendition, squeezing in a bit of Satie between a few improvised offerings.

Limpe Fuchs live at Fort Process 2016

But, to be honest, it was the simple and inspired joy of Limpe Fuchs that stole the show, lilting warbles curling the resonating clanks of her homemade instruments, curving bronze tubes reverberating a sacred solemnity. An eerie Stockhausen-like  draw that bewitched, sweeping shimmers intersected with viola accents, the bow occasionally hitting the holding wires in delicious recoils.

Strung out and unravelling in naked brilliance, fizzing with sensation, the distinctive Indonesian timbres of her Serpentinit stone vibraphone hammered or rubbed, marbles ringing the surface in arbitrary notation,  revelling in the rusty rub of a cranked cable holder. The audience so mystified that they had to be prompted to applaud, leaving you with a childlike wonder you really wanted to savour for as long as you could.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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