After doing battle with the traffic heading for the march in support of the miners and travelling the last three miles in just under an hour I was hoping for something really special from this years event. The line up looked promising with lots of famous names. Ex-Tangerine Dreamers and Van Der Graaf Generators so I was hoping for a treat.
What I definitely was not expecting was for Alquimia who was first on stage to be one of the best. Normally the first up on stage tend to be at least a little dodgy. Not this time. A wonderful mix of synth, flute, percussion, and female vocal chant swept me away on a powerful wave of Mexican mythological rhythm. Combining spacey segments with very hypnotic rhythms that impressed me so much I bought the compact disc that was on sale at one of the varied retail stalls in the foyer.
I never expected David Jackson, ex-Van Der Graaf Generator sax and flute person, to be able to follow Alquimia but he made an admirable effort including performing on two saxophones at once and also playing out a stunning version of the Peter Hamill classic "Train Time".
Third on stage was May East, a Brazilian, who had as her on stage companion an Australian, Craig Gibsone. Between them they combined elements of New Age, Rock, Avant-Garde synthesiser and didgeridoo to unusual but excellent effect.
So far three excellent sets of very different but all stunning music, but followed by a dull, bland and very boring effort by ex-Tangerine Dream man Steve Jolliffe. I was expecting more (perhaps too much) but all we got was the tired muso ramblings of a man blatantly trying to break into the American CD market. He made each piece of music sound like the previous one and only seemed to want to use uninspiring flutes, sad.
I was hoping that the festival was not going to go downhill from here and Mark Jenkins eased my suspicions by starting his solo set off with a brilliant synth piece straight out of the manual written by Tangerine Dream in 1979 when they produced Force Majeure. Perhaps sounding too much like his obvious inspirations but a good set none the less.
Ian Boddy came on and gave us more of the same not stunning but competent synth work, this time sounding like a second division J-M Jarre and by now my attention was beginning to wander what I really wanted right now was something a bit different. Something to spirit me away to a different place. Not people trying to sound like their favourite bands or artistes but someone to come on and prove that they have listened to all the T. Dreams, K. Schulze's, Amon Duul, Can etc., etc. and then make them into something new and take it all a stage further.
Imagine my surprise and joy when Lightwave came on stage and delivered a set that was exactly that. The three band members Christian Wittmann, Christoph Harbonnier and Paul Haslinger (another ex-Tangerine Dreamer, but not it would seem full time band member) combined to produce a very atmospheric, enormously spacey sound. Taking live synth music to places I have never heard it go before. Combining it all with dry ice and lasers to impressively produce a set that was so far out it made The Orb sound like they were down a hole! I was familiar with their Nachtmusik compact disc (available on Erdenklang Tel. 081 858 9190) which is an almost ambient dreamscape that every one into synth music and early Tangerine Dream should own. But they took it a stage further combining it with monster riffs. Definitely a band to watch out for. I hope they get the recognition they deserve 'cos there's no-one quite like them around at the moment.
All in all then a wonderful day's music. Shame the attendance was down on last year &emdash; probably down to the fact that last year Chris Franke was headline, a bigger draw than Lightwave, and the miner's march taking over the the centre of London. The overall standard of the music was much higher than last year's, and I hope the organisers keep up the good work in providing an outlet for bands daring to do something different that they feel strongly about. Next year it would be really nice if they could get a major act to headline. I wonder what Can are doing in October? I hear Amon Duul are reforming with the classic early 70's line up, would that be special or what!?
Above live report - Andy Draper.
Ian Boddy is recognised as one of the UK's leading synthesists and judging by his album Drive we are not surprised. Drive is a masterpiece of pleasant atmospheric/sequencer based electronic music and it is available on compact disc. More recently issued is Ian Boddy's Jade album on the compact disc format by Something Else records. A forthcoming concert by him in April is unconfirmed as yet but more information can be obtained by contacting Future Age Music Express. Hopefully Ian Boddy will be featured fully in a future issue. For now here's a listing of Ian's past albums and the two newest releases are listed in the news section.
Images - Mirage cassette (1980)
Elements Of Chance - Mirage cassette (1981)
Options - Mirage cassette (1982)
The Climb - Signal LP (1983)
Spirits - LP (1984)
Phoenix - Something Else LP (1986)
Jade - Something Else cassette (1987)
Odyssey - Surreal CD/cassette (1989)
Decade - Mixmusic cassette (1989)
Some information on Lightwave's history was given last issue but their first three cassette only albums were not mentioned. They are fully listed here in Lightwave's discography. Their new compact disc album is set for release in the spring possibly on the French Spalax label.
Mark Jenkins premiered tracks from his Thunder At Midnight album at UK Electronica 1992. It is currently available on cassette (see news section) and it is possible that it will be issued on compact disc in the near future possibly with a few remixed tracks and/or extra tracks. Once again contact F.A.M.E. for more information or for details on how to order it.