After a weekend of touristic adventuring, a karaoke party, gigs, and working on headphones in the courtyard of The Brooklyn Arts Hotel, it was good to be back at Magnet Studios where I had arranged to spend the first part of the day recording Ov Pain (the drums / synths / sax project of my good friends, Tim and Renée), and the second doing some playing / recording with Tim and Lilly Tait (violin) ahead of a set at Make It Up Club the following night. I was excited about both.
The session with Ov Pain was great. The duo knocked out two extended, droning jams on synth and sax – no drums, no vocals. The first featured a crunching, crackling bed of MS-20, with flights of Minilouge and careening stabs of sax weaving overtop. Sci-fi meets free jazz, though in very much a different style to the psychedelic, Arkestra-eqsue sonics “sci-fi meets free jazz” might connote. Darker. A brooding intensity. A rolling boil.
Their second piece doubled down on this vibe, with additional background layers of chimes, tambourine and cymbals: a blustering bed of synth, morphing gradually in counterpoint to delicate lines of metallic percussion and measured intonations from the horn. I had seen the Ov Pain perform a number of times, and twice since arriving in Melbourne. The end of their sets over the last week or so had seen them exploring the sort of terrain I’ve just described, though not with the same duration or intent. To bear witness to two extended passages in this mode left me excited. Where what I had witnessed at the Tote and Yarra hotels had functioned as engaging codas to the main set, what took place in the bunker seemed a more focused foray into unplumbed territory.
Next, Tim and I were joined by Lily Tait on violin. The three of us had not played together before, and so what followed was especially enjoyable. The first block of sound was quiet, but not too quiet. Tentative, but not too tentative. The three of us feeling it out in ‘true’ improvised style. The question was raised (I forget who by) as to whether playing together ahead of the set at Bar Open was in keeping with the improvisational ethos of the long running MIUC series. We quickly agreed that we didn’t really care either way, and popped down to the store for refreshments.
Upon returning, and after warming our hands by the Magnet fire pit, we settled in for another go at things, this time with microphones recording. It feels inappropriate to describe our effort with the same poetic vehemence as Ov Pain’s takes earlier in the day, however let it suffice to say that afterwards Lily, Tim and I were looking forward to the MUIC set where we will be joined by Llara Goodall on manipulated tapes.