Venn Festival Radio Circus: Swollen Cochlea live

The Cube Cinema, Dove Street

Max Milton Quartet, Team Brick,S J Esau, Mole Harness

Set list: a present from the future


Venn is an annual music festival in Bristol, taking place over a variety of venues and bringing together a weekend’s worth of inspirational artists both local and international. In 2005 they followed up the inaugural year’s priceless tag team event with a 3 hour Venn Radio Circus. This consisted of three shows broadcast live from the stage of the Cube Cinema, one of which was an edition of the S J Esau-presented internet show ‘Swollen Cochlea’, featuring four different live sessions.
For my set I was intending to play a couple of new tracks I’d just finished, but when I turned on my sampler to start working on live versions of them another track called ‘a present from the future’ happened to load up first, and I absent-mindedly began playing around with the samples for it. In previous performances this track had already started to veer away from the recorded version into the live manipulation of the constituent samples, and on this occasion I stumbled upon some new ways of processing it live on the sampler which had never occurred to me before. After an hour or so of doing this I decided to completely abandon what I’d planned and just play a single ten minute version of the track, which by this point bore little resemblance to the original, and was also augmented by minidisc field recordings fed through the sampler’s effects, plus additional sounds gleefully cannibalised from other tracks.
In the past I felt far too compelled to recreate live what I’d already recorded, whereas over the last year or so I’ve moved much more towards reconfiguring the original samples into different structures as well as mixing tracks together. Reworking ‘a present from the future’ has changed my attitude towards playing live once again, as I’ve realised that it’s much more fun to not only restructure things but also to mash up the samples completely and process them live into something new. It’s also less stressful as a performance, because if there is no ideal template to recreate then the potential for making mistakes (and my capability for onstage mistakes is something I’m highly aware of) doesn’t really exist any more. The possibility of a mistake becomes more the potential for something new and interesting to happen. Naturally this is all just an elaborate justification for practicing less.

Next gig

Back to main live page