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The Eccentronic Research Council feat. Maxine Peak / Delia Darlings - Caro C & Ailís Ní Ríain
Queens Social Club, Sheffield

Article written by Matt H - Jan 19, 2013

Eccentronic Research Council - Witches Brew
It’s a bit of a trek on a snowy evening in Sheffield, but plenty have made it. Not just are The Eccentronic Research Council a pull, but the supporting selection of “Delia Darlings” would be enough to get many of us out by itself. A selection of female composers and a documentary, all inspired by the groundbreaking tape artist of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, most made it across the Peaks to the appropriately dated surroundings of a Sheffield Working Men’s Club (complete with Phoenix Nights tinselling curtain backing on the stage).

Ailís Ní Ríain on double bass picked out a rather jazzy composition, augmented by a trumpeter who looked like he was fairly familiar with a working men’s club, with an especially effective bowed, drone section in the middle (not a million miles from the Sunn O))) I was listening to on the way over). She was followed by Caro C, a more obviously DD-inspired electronic artist who built an impressive ebb and flow of beats, live-sampled voice and other sound (a bouncing ping-pong ball amongst them) into an intriguing whole – a direct and (curiously) organic mode of musical expression. Kara Blakes “The Delian Mode”documentary rounded off the whole, efficiently sketching out the importance of Delia Derbyshire’s art. Its use of conventional talking heads (Sonic Boom who was in touch with Derbyshire at the end of her life featuring prominently), belied a subtle approach that left the (frankly less important) more personal angles wraith-like in the background - drawing more on images of sound production at work to give a real focus on the unusual nature of the work.

Slightly less unusual perhaps, but still odd enough for most, the ERC were giving one of the last performances of their 1612 Underture. We covered an earlier Sheffield performance a while back . While it’s (naturally) similar they’ve got it smoother since, but happily not too smooth. Adrian Flanagan still looks and moves like he’s stepped out of a Tardis from Manchester 1990, and has no fear of playing for laughs. Which makes having Maxine Peake on stage(now more comfy as a frontwoman for this sort of thing) all the better. You suspect she could make pretty much anyone’s gags sound as polished as a Victoria Wood one-liner, and it doesn’t get much better than that. Not that the 1612 Underture needs that much help – it’s a natural for this northern audience; funny, grumpy and acerbic and with some fabulous poppy refrains. Living proof then that, against much precedent, it can be a good idea to involve actors in music, and if it’s not coming back, you can always get the record. It’ll be good to hear something new next…


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