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Taurpis Tula & The Horse Loom @ Morden Tower, Newcastle Upon Tyne, 9th November

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In a one room venue about the size of a comfortable living room an old act channelled a hitherto unexplored rageless fury and a new solo act began an ambitionless emotional journey. Even though it was only Steven Malley's second ever solo performance as The Horse Loom (usually playing as part of The Unit Ama) both his material and his acoustic guitar playing were absolutely outstanding.

Combining an English folk-influenced style with a recurring lyrical interest in horses (much less bizarre in real life than it reads on screen) and some raga influenced playing he swung between delicacy and a furious string scratching burst of melodies moving through the small room in rushes and clusters of notes. Managing a short set that was charged, warm and at times graceful there was even a classical touch to his playing style. His self-effacing banter seemed to be an attempt to both bolster his nerves and to downplay the consideration and emotion that filled his songs. Malley's brief words between songs about his lack of ambition won't affect whether the music picks up a pace of its own as songs that good have a habit of winning out eventually.

There are still a fair amount of doubters who see Taurpis Tula's David Keenan as a writer first and a musician last despite his numerous band experiences and increasing skill at translating onto plastic moments of the band's improvised magic. Now playing as part of a trio alongside Heather Leigh and Alex Neilson of Directing Hand fame the gloves have come off and the sound has been pushed into a rebellious purging of sounds, spirits and sensations.

It’s not only the Taurpis Tula sound that's received a shot in the arm (not that as duo they needed it, but it's welcome nonetheless) but Neilson seemed to be a different player altogether from the guy I'd seen play as part of Ashtray Navigations and Jandek's touring band earlier this year. More likely though I'd just not 'got' what he did back then. Fluid and inventive he battered the fuck out of, coaxed, scraped and cajoled his kit into making sounds that most acts hire a bespectacled laptop man to handle. Some percussive improvisation can take resourcefulness to the extreme concentrating on 'the different' as opposed to 'the sounds good' but Neilson undoubtedly knows his right from wrong.

Playing in near darkness under the glint of a few candles and the streetlight's glimmer they played a two song set ripping the room a new sonic threshold. Combining a Bluesy swagger (something to do with the Jonathan Kane February warm-up disc?) with blasts of monolithic dissonant overkill Keenan plucked notes and dropped down some Alice infested hole while Leigh was almost completely lost in music over her pedal steel sending blankets of noise through and around the sound. There were obvious spirits of exploration, passion and blood in the playing as the sound poured from flesh and blood to wood and metal to air and vibrations without structure or harnessing or control.

The shorter second track relied more on drone than the visceral first piece with Nielson's metallic stick work and violin damage transforming the trio into a quintet. Both he and Keenan used a bow to slither out hums and low grinding murmurs (courtesy of a violin bow on a cymbal) from their respective instruments bleeding out a dizzying sick tense sound. As they moved to a concluding lull Keenan turned his speaker down his decreasing frantic squall was looped into a quiet perfect mess of circling feedback. This was the kind of loop made for listening to for hours at a time and the concert ended with both band and audience in rapture at this spinning living sound.

Last Updated on Sunday, 13 November 2005 12:48  


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