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Morphogenesis / Colin Potter and Jonathan Coleclough (live at Café Oto)

London
10 September 2015

Café Oto, a place that seems to be shorthand for Bobos to some people. However, tonight there were far more middle-aged music nerds than craft-ale and pulled pork enthusiasts (as there seems to be every time I’m at the venue, yet it has this reputation as being wall to wall, errr, the ‘H’ word).

First up was a duo featuring the mighty Colin Potter. Potter sat centre stage in front of an array of hardware (mixing desk, pedals, et al), whilst his accomplice Jonathan Coleclough activated various boxes taped to the walls etc throughout. At the start Potter stated that “anything could happen”, turning the mind toward catastrophe. Luckily, the man at the controls had control of the situation and we were treated to Colin’s tactile, vivid sound (his contribution to the Nurse With Wound‘s sound is undeniable).

Once underway, an icy metallic drone rose from the speakers; at first tinny and insubstantial, but when the bass hit the aforementioned, Potter physicality was present. Some drone works go for unchanging minimalism, some go for ever-building expansion; this one however, unfolded within its own logic, bringing us a variety of soundscapes. At one point the piece sounded like clusters of chainsaws spinning in outer space (I know sound doesn’t travel in space, but please allow me the freedom to use this description).

After a while, various disruptions arose from the warm undulating drones: shivers like shards of glass, a loop submerged in an ocean of reverb, a rude synth stumbling in before being assimilated into the miasma. All the while Potter was periodically looking up to see where his accomplice was positioned and what device would be triggered next. The finale was the word “fuck” being repeated whilst dropping in pitch until it was a rumble, giving the audience a taste of that sly cartoonish element that Nurse With Wound are known for. It was a brilliant set.

Next up were Morphogenesis, who haven’t played together for five years until tonight. They consisted of Adam Bohman on prepared violin, balalika and objects; Ron Briefel on vocals and electronics (performed from his car outside), Paradigm Discs head honcho Clive Graham on tapes and electronics; Clive Hall on piano and electronics; plus guests John Wall on computer and Mark Durgan on modular synths/effects. Theirs was a lumpier, spikier kind of noise than the previous duo. Bohman appeared to be the visual centrepiece, with all eyes on him as he got a huge array of sounds from springs, bits of foam, glasses, and possibly an icepick? There was much more scattered on his table, and he seemed to be compelled to make a new sound with a different object at least every minute.

The sounds emanating from the rest of the band had more consistency, with some wonderful vocal samples stuttering and slurring their way into the mix. Sometimes clear and audible, and sometimes just used as textural or melodic elements more than as speech itself. The first piece, which ended with the aforementioned voice samples (or was it Briefel chatting into a device from his car?), was lighter in tone than the second, which was far more cavernous, with dank nebulous clusters vying for attention amongst the general murk (and that’s a compliment, by the way).

They got a rousing round of applause and various shouts of “more”, “more”, and Morphogenesis did that rare thing, an encore at Café Oto that exceeded the time limit they were given. By the final piece, Briefel had walked into the space, talking into a device like a walky-talky (it wasn’t, though).

The standout performance for this reviewer was Colin Potter and Jonathan Coleclough, but Morphogenesis were fantastic; let’s hope it isn’t another five years until they play again.

-Jay Harper-

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