February 28, 2005

Don't take my word for it

This was in today's Dominion Post:

Ascension Band
@ Happy
Friday, February 25

Reviewed by Simon Sweetman

The Ascension Band is the shared brainchild of Dave Edwards (experimental solo musician/writer and member of The Winter) and Nigel Patterson (The Chandeliers) and features a dozen musicians from Wellingtonís underground and alternative music scenes. Members of While You Were Sleeping and Mr Sterile Assembly are also present - the bandís line-up including: two drummers, two bass players, two guitarists, two vocalists, keyboards, organ, and electronics.

Having performed at the Meatwaters Festivals in 2003 and 2004, the floating roster of musicians associated with the project allows for a slightly different incarnation at each performance. The bandís origins stem from Edwards wanting to create a big band to perform improvised or free music, which is still anchored in some way, by a structure.

This Fringe Festival performance has Ascension Band debuting ďEvolution. It is tighter than the bandís previous sonic excursions, being essentially a symphony performed by a rock band - rather than merely a piece of free-noise. There is, however, ample room for the musicians to improvise within this framework.

Beginning with a loud burst of white-noise, Coltraneís famous sheets of sound are here being torn to pieces by vicious bursts of feedback and heavy bass ruminations. The drummers however are silent. After a few short minutes they join the hunt, following as the band makes its first move towards a groove, but this is held up somewhat by a painfully slow series of spoken-word vocalisations. The timbre of the voice moves from slow, drawled speech to near-song and actual singing - but it really slows the feel of the piece.

The Ascension band works best when all of the members are busy - playing off one other, but also delighting in the incongruity of scrapes and scratches countering a vocal aria, or soft, purposeful grand piano.

But most often Ascension Band is far happier striking a more primal groove that most certainly owes a debt to the tripped-out cosmic space-jams of Santana or Sun Ra, but often comes just as close to sounding like The Stooges. The influence of punk and industrial music clearly present. The incongruity completes, as does the circle, when the piece concludes with another burst of noise, this time a choral affect - loosely conducted by Nigel Patterson - featuring the group membersí disparate, displaced voices.

We're on again on Friday & Saturday at 7.30pm at Newtown Community Centre. We'll add some acoustic opening acts (incl me solo) to set the mood, refine the imperfect elements (we went from performance on Friday to another rehearsal on Sunday and another still to come this Thursday - it's a real working band except without the pay), and generally put on an even better show this time.

I'm happy to report that we got enough people along to Happy to cover our costs and even make a small profit of $25 - but on the other hand the expenses for the Newtown shows are greater which more than cancels that out. We have to hire the hall, a PA, a video projector, plus posters, petrol, recordings etc. It's not cheap - we've got a big fight on our hands just to break even and really need you to come along...


Posted by fiffdimension at February 28, 2005 07:36 PM | TrackBack
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