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PowerPlant featuring Joby Burgess (Percussion)
Purcell Room Monday 18th July 2005

Joby Burgess. Percussion

Elysian String Quartet;
Emma Smith. Violin
Jennymay Logan. Violin
Vincent Siprell. Viola
Laura Moody. Cello

Matt Fairclough. Sound Design
Kathy Hinde. Visuals

Joby Burgess:
Matt Fairclough. Audio Technique 3
Philip Glass. 1&1
Tansy Davies. New Piece (Premiere)
Javier Alvarez. Temazcal
Steve Reich. Electric Counterpoint.

Joby Burgess and Elysian Quartet:
Various pieces by Kraftwerk

This concert was part of the Rhythm Sticks International Drum and Percussion Festival and featured two distinct halves, the first featuring solo percussion performance by Joby Burgess and the second an ensemble performance of versions of pieces by the German electronic specialists of the seventies and eighties and, thanks to the sampling of their work by others, cult dance act and influence of the eighties and nineties, Kraftwerk.

The first half featured an array of percussive instruments, ranging from electronic synthesisers, to a table top and a set of maracas, and allowing a fine showcase for Joby Burgess’s musicianship. At the same time the performance was projected behind him onto a set of screens, culminating in Kathy Hinde filming Burgess being filmed during the performance of Electronic Counterpoint and then this film being projected again onto the original image….

As to the music, the piece by Matt Fairclough, with its emphasis on a consistent beat, was an excellent concert starter. The next two pieces were slightly less successful. The Philip Glass piece for tuned table top resembled some of the less interesting work of John ‘Bonzo’ Bonham. Similarly the new piece by Tansy Davies, essentially a written drum solo for a conventional drum kit, lacked the spontaneity and excitement that a drummer like Max Roach could achieve.

The first half concluded with a minor concerto for the maracas by Javier Alvarez, a real show stopping piece and Reich’s, at times, beautiful Electronic Counterpoint. Not for the first time this listener was spellbound by the crystalline nature of Reich’s soundworld.

The Kraftwerk musicians appeared with masks à la The Lone Ranger (or Michael Stipe) painted on to their faces, black strips for the Elysians and silver in Joby Burgess’s case. The visual display this time featured images associated with the music, for example, images of a cyclist during ‘Tour de France’, of models during ‘The Model’ and of a journey during ‘Trans-Europe Express’. There were also vocal contributions from the musicians, particularly from Joby Burgess, who wore a headset throughout and whose voice was electronically treated.

The performance, with its co-ordination of musicians, audio technologist, visualist and visualisation represented a great logistical feat and was thoroughly enjoyed by audience and performers. Perhaps next time these forces come together they could attempt a similar approach to the greatest of all German groups of the Seventies and Eighties, the percussion driven and Stockhausen influenced Can?

Mark Dennis

© Peter Grahame Woolf