Cinema Soloriens 20th Anniversary Tour

Mello Mello, Liverpool
9th November 2013

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Cachophony From A Parallel Universe

Tonight was the second half of a two day residency at Mello Mello for this renowned psychedelic, free jazz combo touring project, which builds on and continues to showcase the music of Marshall Allen and the silent filmic or eclectic sound world of James Harrar's tenor sax.

Allen was the star esoteric alto saxophonist in the Sun Ra Arkestra until it's eponymous leader's demise in 1993; now approaching 90 he is still as active as ever and fronting several projects like this bash: be prepared to be bashed!

Billed for an 8pm start, things were running a bit late as support act Paddy Steer set up for his own idiosyncratic act, showcasing an array of chaotic Heath-Robinson like filters and tuners that must have kept Progressive Radio in Dale Street in profits for years, and which the early BBC Radiophonic Workshop would have been proud of.

Nor was that all. In his diamante helmet he caressed his drums and keyboards using a hosepipe with electrical pick-up on the end, while twiddling knobs in synch with the sounds being produced. His Darth Vader-like helmet with flashing rainbow teeth was a hoot. Well received, it was then a work of art to dismantle his gear.

Mugstar, unannounced, then performed their own set of incessantly strident guitar riffs with occasional keyboard and voice-over, (which tasked the singer), as all the white space in the music was consumed in a black hole of sound.

Through all this Allen sat close to the stage like an NHS out-patient waiting for his number to be called. He got up once and accidently went out of the Fire Exit door. As more alterations to the equipment on stage was in order, I asked him if he would like a beer while I was at the bar. He graciously accepted the offer and lubricated his throat.

Finally then onto the stage, at 11.33pm, came the stars, accompanied by Rogier Smal and a fellow percussionist, who must remain nameless. To the backdrop of Harrar's mind expanding and perceptually awakening silent films/videos, they proceeded on the cosmic mind blowing genre with which they have made their names. It was indeed a performance that you won't see every week, and one which a late surge in the crowd to the front, left those sitting on seats with a restricted view.

A flashing screen, visceral and disorienting sounds, not just from their trademark instruments but also from Allen's EVI, (Effects Valve Instrument) and the exotic ethnographic bulbul or tarang of Harrar, ensured that those watching had a spaced out night.

But at 12.40 am, as the band raucously played on, I had to go out into the pouring rain, on a spacewalk of my own, in search of a taxi.

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