‘MUTATIONS FESTIVAL’ (DAY 4) – THE HOPE & RUIN + THE PRINCE ALBERT + THE FOLKLORE ROOMS + PATTERNS + KOMEDIA STUDIO BAR + CHALK
The music Brighton music venues for day four of the Mutations Festival were The Hope & Ruin, The Prince Albert, The Folklore Rooms, Patterns, Komedia Studio Bar and CHALK.
The Brighton & Hove News Music Team collected our wristbands for the final day (day four) from East Street and we referred to our Mutations Festival programmes for the plan of action and headed off to our chosen venues.
Here are our reviews of day four of Mutations Festival and they are shown in earliest to latest order. Enjoy………
SUNDAY – 7TH NOVEMBER 2021:
LIME GARDEN – 12:50pm to 1:20pm at The Hope and Ruin
DEEP TAN – 1:20pm to 1:50pm at The Prince Albert
LUCA WILDING – 1:40pm to 2:10pm at The Hope and Ruin
TIBERIUS B – 2:00pm to 2:30pm at The Folklore Rooms
DEATHCRASH – 2:20pm to 2:50pm at The Prince Albert
SMOOTHBOI EZRA – 2:40pm to 3:20pm at The Hope and Ruin
REGRESSIVE LEFT – 2:50pm to 3:20pm at Patterns
FEARS – 3:00pm to 3:30pm at The Folklore Rooms
KAI KWASI – 3:10pm to 3:40pm at Komedia Studio
HOME COUNTIES – 3:20pm to 3:50pm at The Prince Albert
LYNKS – 3:20pm to 3:50pm at Chalk
MANDRAKE HANDSHAKE – 3:50pm to 4:20pm at Patterns
ALBERTINE SARGES – 3:50pm to 4:30pm at the Hope and Ruin
HATTIE COOKE – 4:00pm to 4:30pm at The Folklore Rooms
NUHA RUBY RA – 4:10pm to 4:40pm at Komedia Studio
DITZ – 4:20pm to 5:00pm at The Prince Albert
PVA – 4:20pm to 5:00pm at Chalk
THE UMLAUTS – 4:30pm to 5:10pm at Patterns
JIMMY HERRITY – 5:00pm to 5:30pm at The Folklore Rooms
WU-LU – 5:10pm to 5:50pm at Komedia Studio
DELMER DARION – 5:30pm to 6:00pm at Chalk
CMAT – 6:00pm to 6:30pm at Patterns
LUNCH MONEY LIFE – 6:20pm to 7:00pm at Komedia Studio
SCALPING – 6:30pm to 7:10pm at Chalk
BIG JOANIE – 7:00pm to 7:40pm at Patterns
BEAK> – 8:10pm to 9:10pm at Chalk
ANNA MEREDITH – 9:40pm to 11:00pm at Chalk
My Sunday commences at The Hope & Ruin with Lime Garden, who are the day’s first artists to perform. Comprising Chloe Howard (vocals & guitar), Leila Deeley (guitar), Annabel Whittle (drums) and relatively new bassist Tippi Morgan, they deal in a particularly varied form of indie. The first song has a robotic Korg synthesiser pattern, whereas the second song ‘Fever’ has a beautifully funky guitar figure courtesy of Leila, and a largely spoken vocal from Chloe. Chloe seems vaguely horrified that so many people are “already on the pints!”. ‘Bread’ is in ¾ time, but isn’t quite an old-fashioned waltz. Their next song (which I didn’t catch the title of) is particularly punchy by contrast. They play their single ‘Sick And Tired’, and follow that with ‘Clockwork’, which is harder hitting but with a nice sense of dynamics. Final song ‘Pulp’ again employs the Korg, to especially spectacular effect in the intro. There has been something of a buzz about this band and deservedly so. They have certainly been one of my ‘finds’ of the weekend, and I look forward to hearing and seeing them again. Check out their Bandcamp HERE.
A brisk walk over to The Prince Albert to catch deep tan. This trio has a striking image and the first thing I noticed was the small custom made guitar which was made to the French singer’s own specifications, this created a high pitch sound all the way through their set. The bassist certainly had a 1000 yard stare. Their second song was sung in French and I would suggest that they are putting out a quirky post punk retro vibe in an amateurishly beautiful way during their 7 song set. There’s a Slits and Kleenex vibe going down with this lot and I’m sure that if he would still be with us that the legendary John Peel would have liked them. They informed us that this was their first time in Brighton and I for one hope that they make a swift return. ‘Do U Ever Ascend’ was a quicker number to start with and they ended with ‘Oyster Pink’. Because of the unusual guitar sound, I would even suggest that there is a North African vibe going down here.. Check out their work on Bandcamp.
I stay put in The Hope & Ruin to see singer/songwriter Luca Wilding, who tells us that he’s going to “sing some sad songs”. The songs may be sad, but they are also achingly beautiful. Luca frequently sings in a pleasingly plaintive falsetto, which wonderfully suits his material. His singing style is very expressive and emotive. Luca makes the songs live. He accompanies himself on finger-picked acoustic guitar. However on ‘Mama Make The Pain Stop’ he uses a Korg synthesiser figure which is effectively percussive. Luca seems to have been quite busy writing and recording during lockdown – we get the title track of his ‘Book Of Fate’ EP together with his latest single ‘Nobody Came’. Luca has some utterly superb material, but his description of the songs’ lyrical content isn’t inaccurate – probably best not to listen to them if you’re feeling down! Check him out on Bandcamp.
One of our photographers, Cris, dipped into catch Tiberius b at The Folklore Rooms, but not much was said about the performance. Find Tiberius B on Bandcamp.
I squeeze my way into a fairly packed Prince Albert to be impressed by deathcrash. Their dour, doomy rock is pleasingly complex. Their bassist has a five string bass – always a sign of a serious musician, and deathcrash’s music is nothing if not serious. Also on offer are the vocalists Fender, drums with Akai APC Key 25 with M-Audio and Laptop, and there’s also a Fender Jaguar. Vocals are mainly spoken, and there is an impressive use of dynamics, with crescendos and decrescendos aplenty. The musicianship on display is simply jaw-dropping. Their music has to a large extent captured the mood of lockdown, and as they have now signed to Untitled Records, I look forward to hearing a lot more from them before too long. Find them on Bandcamp.
Having started my day at The Hope & Ruin by watching Lime Garden, I returned there to catch a bit of Smoothboi Ezra. Ezra sang to us and had a guitar and was supported with mate Jackie on bass. I would suggest that maybe they should have been put on at The Folklore Rooms and the music I was hearing would most certainly be for fans of Americana and folk music. ‘Familiar Sadness’ was the second track and all of the material was in the same vein. Check out the work of Smoothboi Ezra on Bandcamp.
Regressive Left clashed with Smoothboi Ezra and Fears, so we sadly missed the Regressive Left set.
Talking of The Folklore Rooms, we took a short walk down there to see Fears who is a London-based Irish musician and producer whose real name is Constance Keane. This was a little different as she combines her reflective electronics and acoustic samples with her haunting vocals with the accompaniment of organic visuals behind her. Fears invites the listener on an ethereal journey. Her melodic haunting music comes with an Irish twang. This was her first show in Brighton and this would be ideal music for a relaxing Sunday afternoon. The crowd appreciated her work. Check out Fears on her Bandcamp page.
Kai Kwasi was performing the same time as Fears and Home Counties. set, so we missed the Kai Kwasi set.
I retraced my steps back to The Prince Albert where I had several minutes before enjoyed the deep tan set and was now heading back in order to now catch a 5 piece going under the banner of Home Counties. They were utilising two Korg’s and a recorder plus a tambourine. A Squire guitar came with the vocals, and there were drums, another guitar and not forgetting the bass. Their first track was twangy with Streets style vocal delivery which certainly shook us up for a Sunday Afternoon. Track two certainly made good use of the twangy sounding Squire guitar work and in general they played off kilter tunes. Find Home Counties work on Bandcamp.
An enthusiastic crowd made their way downhill to CHALK for the totally unique and memorable Lynks. On offer here is a trio of individuals that were giving us lucky punters high-octane electro-pop that is just what’s needed to boost energy levels for the night ahead. If you like Confidence Man or The Correspondents with a healthy dose of satire thrown in then make sure you find time to catch Lynks – you won’t regret it. Check out Lynks on Bandcamp.
I must confess to being somewhat overwhelmed at first sight by Mandrake Handshake at Patterns. For a start there’s nine of them. I had to count them twice to make sure that I hadn’t missed anybody out. The band comprise Row Janjuah (guitar), Trinity Oksana (vocals), Elvis Thirlwell (tambourine, percussion), Eris Nishku (tambourine, percussion), Charlie Arrowsmith (guitar), Danny Jeffries (bass), Shan Sriharan (synth, organ), David Howard-Baker (saxophone, flute and keyboards) and Jan Bourdier (drums). The band themselves describe their music as “flowerkraut”. Personally they remind me of the result of some kind of unholy liaison between Sly and the Family Stone, The Grateful Dead, Hawkwind, Can and Soft Machine. So prog cosmic psychedelia with a touch of jazz thrown in. It was their first time in Brighton and they are utterly compelling and I could have happily carried on watching them for another couple of hours at least. My act of the weekend by a country mile. Check them out on Bandcamp.
With the gigs coming fast and furious for the last Mutations Festival push, we had to dip out of a trio of acts. They were Albertine Sarges, Hattie Cooke and Nuha Ruby Ra.
Brighton based quintet DITZ were formed in 2016 and were inspired by Mutations Festival itself – so it’s fitting that they play this year’s event at the Prince Albert, where they made their original debut. This is a band that pushes boundaries – Cal Francis’ vocals are at times almost whispered…hardly even spoken – a’ la Jim Morrison, they are then barked and ferocious. Guitars and bass are pushed to their absolute limits – and every single centimetre of each instrument is utilised to produce a ferocious orchestra of chords and percussive noise. As Cal firmly places his mic stand in the centre of the crowd we witness a true highlight of Mutations 2021. Treat yourself to some DITZ goodies on their Bandcamp page HERE.
I eagerly made my way to CHALK in order to witness the rather wonderful PVA who I had been so taken by with their previous Brighton concert performance up at The Prince Albert, that I travelled all the way to Hastings to hopefully see them again the following night. This didn’t quite pan out as planned, as the venue didn’t have a sound engineer and the venue were on their last legs and closed the following week and so PVA couldn’t really perform. I was more than upset, but all that was rectified tonight as the trio booted up their Korg Prologue Polyphonic Analogue Synthesizer and another box, plus Roland and Hydrasynth and guitar, plus drums with Roland drum pads. Track one reminded me of a combination of Front 242 vs acid house. They even gave us the first ever outing for a new track called ‘Project Bunker’. I really enjoyed this set and it was right up there in my top Mutations Festival performances. Without doubt, I would go and see this lot again. Check out PVA on their Bandcamp page.
More gigs clashed and so The Umlauts and Jimmy Herrity were sadly not covered.
Wu-Lu is a south London producer and multi-instrumentalist whose parents know him as Miles Romans-Hopcraft. Tonight at the Komedia Studio Bar he is joined by a full band who (including the man himself) consist of two guitarists, a bassist, synth player, syndrums & percussion, and acoustic drums. Between them they construct astonishingly ethereal atmospheric soundscapes. The lyrics are beautifully poetic, the basslines have a distinctive reggae feel whilst the guitars are spiky. The band’s use of pedals would make a shoe-gazer feel inadequate. It is impossible to fit this music into any particular genre. It occasionally is reminiscent of Dreadzone. There are occasional elements of rap. Indeed, at one point they put the stage lights out, put the guitars and bass down and go all-out rap for a couple of songs. Then the guitars and bass are picked up again and they finish with a song that sounds like Rage Against The Machine. Wu-Lu is without a doubt one of the most intriguing and compelling acts that I’ve seen for a long time. More power to his elbow. Check out his material on his Bandcamp page.
Staying put in CHALK we focussed on Delmer Darion who were a duo in charge of an Octatrack keyboard and Arturia keys and Celelstron keys etc. They played us floaty synth soundscapes that were swirly ambient and could easily feature in blockbuster films. The crowd was strangely sparse during this teatime set. To stand and watch them wasn’t the most interesting performance to witness across the four days, but I guess if you are used to something like DJ sets that that’s what you get. Delmer Darion are on Bandcamp, check out their work HERE.
We moved onto Patterns for another tea time set, this time it came courtesy of CMAT. This venue is sparse too, a majority have gone off for grub no doubt. CMAT is just one girl from Dublin offering up country music with a pop element. She played on her Fender Telecaster guitar as well as her Omnichord which is like an electronic harpsichord. She sings with an American twang like many do these days. She had two hardcore fans at the front who sang merrily along with her tune. I most certainly wasn’t one of them. Find CMAT on Bandcamp HERE.
The last act that we were to miss was Lunch Money Life.
We thankfully take a trip back to CHALK to watch SCALPING. These are a five piece with electronics, guitar, bass, drums and Aero Laptop. I had forgotten how cold the overhead air condition at the centre front at CHALK is. It’s much colder than other venues, but we soon warmed up with all the dancing. It was nice to see decent backing films for this band. I reckon other band’s should have called upon the services of Innerstrings graphics for their gigs. SCALPING offer up nonstop heavy instrumental rumblings akin to PERTURBATOR and HEALTH, and meets recent Gary Numan. Industrial dance rock anyone? Trent Reznor would love them. Expect Ibiza meets Gothic Wave Treffen. The surprise package of the festival for me. Bass gave up the ghost near the end of their set which led to an impromptu jam at the end. Absolutely awesome. I need to see these guys live again. Check out SCALPING on their Bandcamp page HERE.
We make our way back to Patterns to see Big Joanie who are supporting IDLES on their forthcoming tour. These are a girl trio of bass, guitar and drums. The drummer adopted an unusual standing style of drumming. One lady was wearing a Poly Styrene (X-ray Spex) t-shirt and another an MC5 one, so I assume that these are their influences. But they didn’t quite hit the mark for me, but arguably anything after SCALPING would be difficult to relight my fire. Big Joanie have an album out early next year of which they previewed a track off of which rocked along pleasantly. For my liking there was a bit too much preaching e.g. “f@ck the police”, so who will they call when their house is burgled?. Best not tar everyone with the same brush eh? There are good and bad people in all manner of professions. Big Joanie are on Bandcamp.
We returned to CHALK for Beak> and remained there for the headline act of the night Anna Meredith. First up then was the Beak> trio who are members of the Roger Daltrey fan club (sic). One of them apparently used to play in Portishead. They had drums and echoey vocals, the bass guitarist was seated, the remaining member had two Korg’s with guitar and other wonderful electronic boxes. On starting the guitarist immediately broke a string on the bass, but he simply reached around for a replacement instrument. He told us he last broke a string on that instrument 20 years ago. Englishmen doing Krautrock, does it really work, it does when you have a decent British sense of humour. The venue was rather packed, possibly because this was now the only venue going for the festival. Drummer “there’s a lack of avant garde jazz”. Bassist “Avent practiced more like”. More enjoyable for me when the electronics are to the fore. Drummer had an unusual drumstick which had a built in little cymbals to it. For fans of NEU! and Amon Düül. Check out their work on Bandcamp.
Tonight’s headliner Anna Meredith is probably the most well qualified musician playing at this year’s Mutations Festival. She has a Master’s degree from the Royal College of Music, an honorary doctorate, and was awarded an MBE in 2019 for services to music. This is all very impressive, but is she actually any good? Of course she is!!! Anna has achieved the very difficult goal of making complex music that is accessible. A prime example is opening track ‘Sawbones’ (which almost immediately has Anna jumping up and down incidentally) where the tuba plays in counterpoint to the rest of the band. Much of the set is taken from Anna’s 2019 album ‘Fibs’, so is well-known to most of the audience. There are almost too many highlights to mention, but one is ‘The Vapours’, from Anna’s 2016 debut album ‘Varmints’, where guitarist Jack Ross taps like Eddie Van Halen. Another is ‘Killjoy’, where the whole band sing in absolutely faultless harmony. At one point the band sing the melody line whilst Anna Sings backing vocals. The band play an encore which is a combination of Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ and ‘Purple Rain’. Naturally these are very much ‘Meredith-ised’ versions, but both songs gain rather than suffer from that. Besides, what’s the point of playing covers if you slavishly copy the original? Live, Anna Meredith’s music is something to gloriously luxuriate in, and that’s what this audience did tonight. If you haven’t had that experience, I would strongly suggest that you remedy that next time she plays live. Check out her work on her Bandcamp page HERE.
The Mutations Festival was a massive success and we truly hope that the organisers repeat the feat next year!
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