Thursday, June 01, 2006
When the talking stops...
posted by SMc at 11:47 PM
So this was going to be about something else entirely. About Centro-matic mostly; Will, Matt, Mark and Scott, Texan indie-rock wonders and truly a band among bands. About the customary excellence of their new record, Fort Recovery, cleaner, mellower but unmistakably, unshakably Cento-matic. About that sound - a fantastic industrial squeal like rusty old railway points changing or iron girders being hoist into place before the welding starts and the sparks fly - the sound you'll always find on the records but which they don't quite bring off live. And about how you don't really care about this at the show, so deeply, elementally satisfying is their collective heft as they bolt together a set of frazzled, clanging, soaring greatness from across the years: Fidgeting wildly, Blisters may come, Patience for the ride...
Because that's really what it's always about, isn't it? Buying, listening, watching, clapping, going home. But it's not going to be about that this time. A chance encounter at the Centro show that night at the Water Rats led to something more, to a moment. A moment whatsmore that this blog sort of helped to happen. For one night only, passivity begone!
Central to this story is the music of Nathan Amundson aka Rivulets. Music of stark, penetrating purity wrapped around a core of fragile beauty, like petals trapped in thawing ice slowly becoming vivid, within reach. Or something. Now two albums and several EPs old, Rivulets remains criminally under-exposed. So Nathan had played some dates on the Continent earlier this year and was returning for a few more in May. But not here, not London. Shall we ask why? OK go on then...
Lack of gigs/interest was the reason but as luck and convoluted air ticketing would have it, he would be in London for a couple of nights anyway. Then a short-notice spot at the 12 Bar came through but that still left the night before. Hmmm...thinks: Arse, get off, do something. Well, try at least. Which takes us back to that Centro-matic night at the Water Rats...
"A guy I know hosts a really nice music night at The Dog House," she says, being the friend of a friend of a friend.
"What, as in The Dog House, Kennington? As in 'south London'? As in 'not very far from me?'"
"Yeah. His name's Gavin Hammond, he's on MySpace, check him out"
And he was/is. Mellow, acoustic feelgood stuff but with just enough trace elements to think it might work. No harm in scootin' over and asking anyway. "Yeah, it should be OK, just turn up early Sunday evening and we'll work something out."
"Hey, Nathan, er, seem to have sorted you a gig..."
So there we were, four-strong Team Rivulets (with late back-up from Speakeasy Luigi) bedded down in the comfortable upstairs room at the Dog House, any pre-match tension soothed by the even more comfortable harmonized acoustic groove of Gavin & friends. Two hours pass and with our hero now entering his second day without sleep he finally gets the call...
Hearty chatter. Its the curse of the quiet gig and the Dog House was no exception. Having a big table of friends and supporters in the room had proved no immunity for Gavin - what chance our boy? But tonight's events offered a simple solution to this problem: just be a bit special, that's all. The last of the daylight having drained away, the stranger from Indiana, dropped out of the sky straight into SE11, takes up his trusty Takamine and begins to play.
Subtle, centred, starkly powerful, Nathan doesn't appear to be doing much but then you don't always have to. The musicians were quick to notice but the effect was soon seeping across the room. Like rivulets, you might say. Then, three or four numbers in, it happened. Or rather, it didn't. No talking. The opening guitar figure of Waited for you and.. silence. Watching him against the inky night sky, the window framed with white fairy lights, this was palpably A Moment. Upper lip stiff, lower lip well bitten. Sitting next to my plucky partner in this whole little escapade, I became aware at one point she'd glanced over to me. I was equally aware that there was absolutely no way at all I was going to turn round since I knew, just knew, she too would be glowing and that would've been.. overload.
So the last note falls away and suddenly everyone finds their voice again but it's the same word that occurs to everyone: 'More!'
There was to be a little more and another (headline) date the next night but largely for the converted. The thrill this night had been in the revelation of strangers.. and how we'd sort of helped it to happen. Waited for you in particular is one of the great undiscovered songs. It lies buried out there, a quiet latent power just below our banal, chaotic, imperfect surface, like an unexploded bomb from wartime. And now, like then, victory was ours. Cheers, Nathan...