Live Music

Run Logan Run / Dwell / Tom Stone at St James Wine Vaults, Bath

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Posted on 22nd August 2016

Run Logan Run / Dwell / Tom Stone

St James Wine Vaults, Bath

Saturday, August 20, 2016

It was a dark and stormy night – England in the middle of August – and so the audience for this programme of three experimental, electronic processing bands of different genres was predictably small. But the legions of you who weren’t there missed something quite special.

First, Tom Stone  was on stage sitting behind a rather huge Heath Robinson-ish instrument which turned out to be a contrabassoon. It made a lovely, deep and woody sound and, connected to two tiny speakers sitting on a snare drum, produced a parallel white noise. Next to Mr Stone was a small amplifier that sounded prerecorded bass notes and harmonics. They came in minimal, seemingly random order. He played the bassoon with and against these spare notes and it made music. This was avant garde classical music, cerebral and, with an intelligence behind it, absorbing. 

Next up came Dwell, consisting of Chris playing guitar through one of the larger pedal boards I’ve seen, as well as two or three amps, one a bass amp, and Rupert, playing entirely acoustic drums. It was deconstructed Rock arising out of the tradition of Tony Iommi, filtered through the world of stomp box electronica, an interesting concept made even more so by Rupert’s similarly deconstructed arena rock drumming.
And then it was Run Logan Run, who manifested all the power, aesthetic coherence and expertise of a headlining band - even though this was a night of experimentalism with very little audience.
If we had avant garde classical followed by avant garde rock, now we had avant garde jazz, though the artistic completeness of Run Logan Run made it seem more… state of the art. 

RLR is Andrew Hayes on tenor and alto saxes along with a fairly sizeable pedalboard and Dan Johnson on, once again, acoustic drums. Andrew is a mighty player who certainly deserves a spot in the current pantheon of top Bristol saxophonists; I have seen him in free jazz context and he is definitely bringing something new to the party with antecedents like Archie Shepp, Pharaoh Sanders, Roland Kirk,  But this is different: it is electronica jazz with repeating loops, drones, terrific use of digital harmonies (Kirk’s multiple saxes have been superseded). This is not new – especially to trumpet players – but saxophonists have generally not plunged into electronica this deeply. But what really sets RLR apart, along with extraordinary skill, is coherent composition. Each piece is distinct and each piece has a structure, a trajectory, intelligently conceived. And this is jazz: their playing, both of them, is incendiary. Dan Johnson fuses Ginger Baker and jungle with the quickest sticks since Clive Deamer played with Roni Size. Andrew has endless technique, including circular breathing, which combined with his thoughtful electronica, makes him a very powerful player.
Run Logan Run has ep1 out (on Bandcamp) and it is a very good representation, though the drums aren’t prominent enough and it misses the visceral excitement of a live gig. Go see them.

Charley Dunlap


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