October 2016, Cafe OTO in London, and a concert to celebrate twenty years of Confront Recordings, staged by the label’s owner Mark Wastell. Cafe OTO nestles in a side street in Dalston, a gloriously unpretentious venue where a small team share duties at front of house, attending to the bar, sound and lighting, creating a space for performances from some of the leading improvisers and experimental musicians from across the world. Its vibe is part bar, part cool village hall, part vinyl and cd boutique, making it without doubt one of my favourite places in the capital.
The centrepiece of the set is a performance by Rhodri Davies, Mark Wastell and – via pre-recorded reading – David Sylvian. OTO’s capacity can be barely more than 100, and as the musicians take their places glasses of craft ale are set down whilst those who arrived early to secure one of the low-key wooden chairs settle and other audience members gather round in anticipation. I love the way the convivial atmosphere subsides and you could hear a pin drop as a performance starts at this venue. It’s the music that compels people to gather here. To the left, Wastell and a sparse percussion set up: a tam tam – essentially a large concave gong – a 16 inch floor drum and some singing bowls. On the right, Rhodri Davies with a small electric harp placed horizontal on a table with various devices to manipulate and supplement the sound, including an e-bow, a real bow and a radio. In the centre, an empty chair for the ‘virtual’ reader, illuminated by a large angle-poised lamp stood beside. Continue reading “There is No Love”