Category Archives: Gigging

Sloth Racket at Cafe Oto this October

A quick post to make you aware of the just-announced Sloth Racket album launch at Cafe Oto on 10th October! Tickets are on sale now for this special night – our first gig at Oto – where we’ll celebrate the release of our next album. The as-yet-untitled album is currently in progress and I’m very happy with the direction it’s going…

(Also pleased with the new collage-y image above that I put together for this gig!)

Ripsaw Catfish new album and live dates

It’s been five years (!) since the release of the second Ripsaw Catfish album Namazu, so Anton and I are pretty excited that our third one will be coming out later this month! Recorded last September in Manchester, then mixed and mastered by Alex Bonney, Carapace sees us add my electronics to the mix and take the duo in a new direction. We’re very happy that it will be released on Raw Tonk again too. You can pre-order the album from Friday 10th June and it’s out on Friday 24th June. My flyer for this features Colin Webster’s awesome linocut album artwork, which will appear on the sleeves in hand-printed form.

To coincide with the release we’re going out on a mini-tour, with three live dates in the UK:

18th June – BRÅK @ waterintobeer, Brockley, London | 19:00, £5 or more
We’re launching the album in the beer shop! It seemed fitting considering that the label boss and 50% of the band are involved in running the gig. Info about BRÅK is on our website, and you can find out how to get to the shop on the wib site.

26th June – Soundhunt @ Thrive, Cambridge | 19:00, £5
Another new series here run by Dominic Lash and N.O Moore, who we’ll be sharing the bill with. The gig is happening at Thrive, a great vegan cafe within walking distance of the station. More venue info on the Thrive site.

19th July – Chance Meeting @ NIAMOS, Hulme, Manchester | 19:30, £9/£6 unwaged
In our other home city we’ll be playing at this brand new night, sharing the bill with THRAA. All the info you need can be found on the Chance Meeting site, where you can also follow a link to buy tickets for the gig.

Looking forward to getting out there with this band again!

cr-ow-tr-io dates in May

cr-ow-tr-io will be out and about late this month, with dates in Manchester and London. In Manchester we’re playing at the fantastic Curious Ear series on Saturday 21st May. The workshop and gig are happening at the Ascension Church, Hulme: you can find all the details on the Curious Ear site, and on their gorgeous poster below…

Then on Thursday 26th May the trio will play at City, University of London, for an exciting occasion: the first London performance of my piece And then the next thing you know. We will be hanging my giant, fragmented graphic score in the performance space at City and responding to it in this new setting. Tickets are free for this, but you need to reserve a place as there are limited spots available. It will be great to take this project out for a second performance: I’m expecting the shape of the score, the atmosphere and the music to all be totally different to the original hcmf// gig (photo below). I’m looking forward to revisiting it all with Tullis and Otto.

I have also printed up a new batch of our trio release ‘Hold Music’ for these gigs, so it’s a good chance to grab a copy in the neon paint colour of your choice!

//

Also…

Between those two gigs I’m playing a trio set with Chris Corsano and Alan Wilkinson at Cafe Oto! Our set on Monday 23rd May is part of Chris’ four-day residency, which I was super happy to be invited to be a part of.

New LUME dates

After an epic admin session, Dee and I have just announced a new batch of LUME dates at Hundred Years Gallery, starting next month. All the info is on the LUME site, but the season looks like this:

20th May 2022
Caroline Kraabel & Khabat Abas
Dee Byrne solo
Alex Bonney & Cath Roberts

17th June 2022
Lara Jones & Dee Byrne
Suren Seneviratne solo
Gina Southgate & Cath Roberts

15th July 2022
Rebecca Nash & Dee Byrne
Andrew Lisle solo
Dirk Serries/Tullis Rennie/Cath Roberts

My sets are all the re-starting of projects that have been dormant since the pre-pandemic times, so I’m looking forward to playing with Alex, Gina, and the Dirk/Tullis trio again – it’s been too long!

We made some nice new flyers for the online promo too, using parts of photos from last season’s gigs…

Sloth Racket live dates in April

Sloth Racket are playing three gigs in April before we go into the studio to record a new album. You can catch us in Newcastle, Sheffield and Nottingham.

Jazz North East are organising the Newcastle gig, and tickets are on sale here.

More info about the Sheffield gig organised by Jazz At The Lescar here.

Tickets are on sale for the Nottingham gig from Jazz Steps here.

Looking forward to this mini-tour – our first gigs with the full lineup since September 2019!

Duo set with Olie Brice at Cafe Oto

Coming up this Sunday, I’m really looking forward to this duo set with Olie. Our album ‘Conduits’ is coming out on Relative Pitch in March – and apparently the CDs have reached Olie from the States, so will be present at the gig! More soon from this duo but it’s great to start the year with a gig at Cafe Oto. Tickets are available from the Oto website.

‘And then the next thing you know’ at hcmf// 2021

This post is an attempt to document the process of making my piece And then the next thing you know (coming up on Friday 19th November at hcmf//), as it has involved working in new ways. I wrote briefly about this here last summer, when I was chosen as one of the artists to receive a COVID-19 commission from hcmf//. The brief was to create a new work for up to three players to be performed at the 2021 edition of the festival, and my pitch was a trio piece for Tullis Rennie, Otto Willberg and myself inspired by Cornelia Parker’s Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View.

I’ve had a photo of Parker’s artwork – the fragments of an exploded garden shed hung in a gallery space – pinned up by my desk for a few years. The image of the component parts suspended in space resonates with my ideas about structuring compositions; a lot of my approach to writing music involves breaking down the elements of a composition and thinking about what should be pre-determined (and to what extent) by me in advance and what should be improvised collectively in the moment by the band. Then, when the pandemic hit in early 2020, the deconstructed fragments frozen in space began to reflect both my state of mind and the state of my work life, which had been turned upside down by cancellations, postponements and general uncertainty. It was these feelings that led to my idea for the hcmf// piece.

My plan was to make a giant graphic score and then deconstruct it – destroy it really – so that it became a collection of disconnected fragments. The original structure of the score and the information within it would be lost, leaving a garbled mess of partial material and no obvious way to go about playing it. This would then become a giant hanging object that I would suspend in the performance space, and that would be our ‘score’ for a piece improvised trio music.

Something was taking shape…maybe

Turning an idea into reality

Once it had sunk in that this was really happening, my first job was to work out how to construct the physical object. What would it be made of? How big did it need to be? How and where would I make it? This was a fascinating process and opened up a whole new area of making something. Although I regularly make physical objects as part of my work – collage scores, booklets, a zine, hand-printed CD covers, etc – I’d never made anything this….big. Plus, the space we would play in was suddenly important in a new way: I needed to know its dimensions so I could have an idea about the size of the hanging score-fragment-cluster-object. Once I had that information, the way forward seemed to be to build a scale model. Again, not something I’ve needed to do before…

Scale model in progress

Busting out the paint and cardboard

Over the summer of 2021 I started to gather what I needed to make the score. I wanted the whole thing to be made out of recyclable (and ideally compostable/biodegradable) materials, so I settled on using greyboard; a very stiff, recycled cardboard. It has a textured looking surface but is actually smooth and perfect for painting onto. After working out the size of my giant score (6m x 4m!) I ordered up the board.

Initially I’d imagined the score to be a greyscale object, with the information painted on using black lines – like a giant version of my usual paper scores. Once I started gathering materials though, I realised I wanted to add colour. As time went on, the grey and black object seemed a bit bleak, and I wanted to add an injection of energy and hope, so I decided to use….neon paint! For the black lines I got some really fat paint markers.

The next thing to sort out was where to make the giant score. Unsurprisingly there isn’t 6m x 4m of free floorspace in my flat, so it needed to be somewhere else. Luckily, the building where I use a shared studio has a bookable project space, and my friend and studiomate Sam had some time booked in August that he didn’t have any plans for. I moved in and spent an intense few days making the score.

Part of the score laid out

As the fragments were ultimately going to hang in space, I realised that I needed to make it double sided. This meant painting it twice. It took a day to do each side, leaving the paint to dry overnight before flipping all the panels and starting again from scratch. The two sides ended up looking really different; based on the same structure but with a lot of variation in the graphics and notation.Painting the giant score

Once it was all painted up, I had to get it out of the space asap as the room was about to be used for an s10c gig! I took a lot of photos of the score laid out – both sides and a scrambled combination of both – as this would be the last time it would appear in this form.

The other side…

Scrambled panels from both sides creating a nice effect

I then stacked up the panels onto my baritone trolley and loaded out. After that, they lived under my sofa for a couple of months…Ready for transport

Cutting room floor

It was the beginning of October when I was able to work on this project again. The painted boards were waiting under the sofa, and the next stage was the cut. I had already tested cutting the greyboard with a stanley knife over summer, so I got straight on with carving up the panels over a couple of days. It was interesting to think about the fragments hanging in the space, making sure I had a variety of different sizes and shapes. My scale model was very useful at this point to keep a clear idea of what I was aiming for – although the final arrangement would be improvised once I was in the physical venue space in November.

Off-cuts

To hang the fragments I decided to use neon-coloured twine. I conducted a few tests to see whether the twine I was looking at was up to the job, and after hanging large pieces of cardboard around the flat for days at a time decided that it was. With all my cut-up pieces finished, the next job was to make the holes for hanging. Once that was done the physical object was finished and ready to be shipped to Huddersfield!

Reinforcing the holes…with pink gaffa tapeOn its way out!

Audio fragments

In addition to the deconstructed score, I wanted to bring in an element of fragmented audio to the performance. The trio had rehearsed several times in lockdown remotely, using JackTrip, so I had server recordings of our improvisations. This struck me as the perfect raw material: the sounds of us trying to connect musically when we couldn’t be in a room together. I listened back to the sessions and pulled out some snippets, then distributed them to the trio. In performance, we will all have the material on hand to throw into the music, using samplers and electronics to mangle, chop and distort our original sounds. Here they are in their raw form:

At the time of writing, the performance is later this week. All the elements are in place and I’m looking forward to finally being in the space, impovising with the score and fragments to create some collective music together in a room….

The trio playing at Hundred Years Gallery, December 2019 – the last time we played together in person!