@ Decimal Place, Lincoln, UK, October 2nd 2012
Had I known such a facility as Decimal Place was available in the historic UK city of Lincoln I’d have stopped bemoaning Lincolnshire county’s lack of culture long ago. Tucked away behind Lincoln Cathedral – one of the finest buildings in the country, sat towering over the shops and houses below – the art gallery run by Dex Tape Noise (who plays a set here tonight, with slow poetry and tiny drum) is as basic as they come but has been quietly holding film and lecture nights, avant-garde music gigs and general shenanigans for the past year or so. Essentially Dex’s house (the travelling musicians are bedding down upstairs later on) Decimal Place’s downstairs is tonight given over to a table full of wires, synthesizers and laptops for Weird Garden. The sound gear is in the kitchen, there are TV’s fizzing blindly in the corner and examples of Dex’s childish landscape art hangs lopsidedly on the walls.
Manchester’s Jon Collin is the first act to take the floor tonight, surrounded by intrigued passers-by who sit deep in the old couch and perch on plastic chairs. I found a place on the stairs alongside a local photographer who introduced himself to me as being someone who “‘looks after Dex – y’know, bringing him cups of tea and stuff”. Collin runs the Winebox Press label and performs a set on guitar that recalls William Fowler Collins’ dark western plains. Starting with a minute of almost total silence as the
instrument settles and the small audience focuses, Collin brushes his strings with a bottleneck and coaxes out the first of many long drones. Fingerpicking over the top, letting the amp do its own humming work, Collin allows the music to bloom and bring life to the arid landscape like a sudden shower of rain before it too soaks into the earth and fades out. We sit quietly until the guitar touches the floor with a wooden clunk and, with a nod, Collin signals the end of an enthralling opening set.
Having shuffled into the kitchen to make some adjustments to his set up, Dex emerges to perform as Tape Noise. His show is based around pre-recorded poetry, tonight being streamed directly from YouTube on his laptop. Around this he fiddles with a variety of instruments as the stream suffers from a slow connection, jolting mid-sentence and falling silent altogether for portions of a set that is as clearly improvised as they come. It’s quite clear Dex is making it up on the hoof and it hardly ever makes sense, but the man has enough rough-edged bohemian charm to pull it off as he shambles around the table pressing buttons and tapping percussion. Read in a flat monotone, the poetry has an air of John Cooper Clarke about it. Mainly it’s about weeds and how they can be beautiful even as they take over the land. I was left thinking of My Dance The Skull and their various Voice Studies cassette releases.
Komodo Haunts’ Ollie Tutty is a prodigious young talent. He combines two projects tonight, playing some songs as his other alter-ego Mt. Tjhris, but it’s not easy to separate the two until he explains afterwards with typical self-deprecation. “I played two sets tonight,” he mumbles, “one as Komodo Haunts, and one as Mt. Tjhris. That’s T-J-H-R-I-S, but you can say it however you want. I have tapes available for two pounds.” Tutty’s hair is so long it falls onto his synth keys and follows him around like a tail as he sweeps from one side of his gear to the other. Always busy, perhaps a little too much so at times, his music conjures up sweltering atmospheres even on a night
when puzzled pedestrians walk past wrapped in coats and scarves as they make their way to ye olde Englishe pubs that surround Decimal Place. The tropical beats are transporting, by turns disarmingly pretty and deeply disturbing, full of froggy clicks and stuttering buzz hula. The sounds are ever-changing and the music is rarely allowed to settle into any kind of groove but it is fascinating to watch the young artist scuttle around. It’s clear he has a very bright future ahead of him, albeit one populated by imagined jungle beasts.
After a beer and cigarette break the show re-commences with Daniel Voigt’s Hering und Seine Sieben Sachen. Voigt is maybe better known as the man behind SicSic Tapes but he has his own work out on labels like Cosmic Winnetou and Cae-Sur-A. He had an accident with his cat recently that left his arm in a pot but, pot-free, his music starts with a sampled séance that brings the room temperature right back down. Voices try and bring back the spirit of Houdini before slow electronics take over, washing through like dry ice. A sleeping tiger growl emerges as Voigt sways slowly, his back to the congregation, and a reverent swell drowns. The second piece is noisier, building on rewound tape
squeals and churning sci-fi malfunction as further calls from beyond are heard. A woman, it seems, has achieved contact with an alien and she gibbers in tongues as Voigt brings his set to an end on a hauntingly chill note.
Gael Moissonnier drinks English ale and plays his synth on the floor in stocking feet. He flings his shoes under the table as he struggles to set up. A local radio chat show is coming through on his amp and he can’t get rid of it. It’s a common problem here, I’m told, and we’re lucky to escape a blast of Ronan Keating’s anodyne Irish pop. Undeterred, Moissonnier decides the house amp will have to do fine, but unfortunately it is nowhere near as loud as his music warrants. By far the noisiest artist of the night, he sticks his fingers in sockets to draw out squealing zaps that should be deafening but instead crackle quite meekly from the corner. Moissonnier continues gamely and his performance is fascinating – especially when he picks up his gibbering walkman, takes it on a journey around the room and then exits onto the street before posting it back through the door until the thing dies a slow, agonising death on the mat. This final flourish is inspired, detracting from the amp issues altogether by focussing in on the smallest, most old-fashioned piece of equipment in the room and ensuring the night ends on a note that is equal parts hilarious and bonkers genius. Moissonnier re-enters with a smile on his face as we stand and applaud.
Tapes change hands at the end of the night (I came home with a great haul) and we retire to the pub for a pint and a chat. It’s been a good one, it’s agreed – Dex is delighted, saying it’s the best night they’ve had at Decimal Place so far. We talk about ‘New Weird Lincolnshire’ through our smirks but I sincerely believe that – if Dex wanted – he could make Decimal Place one of the places to go in the area for out-there music. God knows we need it, and we were close enough to the cathedral for him to hear the music and our pleas.