Gamelan and Piano : Wilson Chu and Gamelan Naga Mas

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Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Thursday 27th Sept 2018

This Gamelan and Piano concert was chock-a-block full of treats. Here are four for starters; the celebratory atmosphere of a student’s final event; the attraction of the gamelan instruments themselves, before a note was even played; the professionalism of Wilson Chu (he should run a masterclass on how to receive and respond to applause), and the variety the programme packed into one hour.

Gamelan music, with its ancient origins, comes from Indonesia and is played on an orchestra of metallophones and gongs. It has a characteristically shimmery sound, as the instruments are tuned in order that the harmonics produced should jostle and dance against each other, this effect being called ‘ombak’.  If that sounds quite exotic, it is, but what surprised me was what a welcoming sound world the gamelan proved to be, with several styles sounding perfectly at home beside it.  I was even reminded of some Scottish traditional music (e.g. ‘The Joy of It’ by Catriona MacDonald), and of Debussy (not surprising, he was one of the many classical composers to love and be influenced by the gamelan). The gamelan-inspired piano pieces worked extremely well, and were tuneful, lyrical and sometimes flamboyant. These pieces for solo piano i.e. Tembang Alit, by Jaya Suprana, Java Suite by Leopold Godowsky, and Chu’s own Paraphrase on a Javanese Theme should be widely played.


The prepared piano piece by John Cage introduced wit and humour, as the preparations acted like a costume for the piano, so that it could play a new role alongside the gamelan with the help of many unusual timbres. You can judge for yourself what the finished effect was, but I thought it was glorious. The addition of voices allowed for what was the highlight of the evening for me, as the voices were left solo chanting a rapid motif, one of the deeper gongs came in with the drama we associated with gongs, but a lot of playfulness as well. By the last two pieces it was as if the gamelan instruments had really woken up, there was rather a lack of volume of the shimmering sonorities previously mentioned prior to that, and rather a lot of drum. But the last two pieces, by Wilson Chu and the leader of Gamelan Naga Mas, J. Simon van der Walt were a fitting dramatic and musical climax to a wonderful evening of music. Now listen again to the wonderful music of Wilson Chu and the Gamelan Naga Mas, and wish him well in the future, as do I.

Catherine Eunson

An Interview with Devon More


Devon More will soon be rocking into Edmonton & Vancouver with her Flute Loops. The Mumble caught her for a wee blether beforehand…

Hi Devon, so where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Devon: I grew up in Kamloops BC, and now live in East Vancouver, but I also spend a lot of time in New Westminster.

When did you first develop a love of performing?
Devon: I always wanted to be “an artist” – even before I knew what that was. At 6 years old, I learned my first instrument – the flute – at a summer music camp. Recently, my parents shared a home recording of me singing an “original song” (called “The Froggy Dance”) around the same age, so things haven’t changed much.

What are the strings to your showbiz bow?
Devon: I’m a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, though I think of myself primarily as a songwriter – and there is always an element of story to my work. I tour my original musical storytelling shows to festivals across Canada. I’m the frontwoman and guitarist for Hang Lucy – a Vancouver-based punk-pop indie rock power trio (also featuring John Pigeon on bass, and Ariane Tasca on drums). We just released our debut EP this spring! “Stroke of Luck” is now available on iTunes, Spotify, and all digital music outlets. I perform musical works of “edutainment” at schools across British Columbia, where I also conduct workshops with young people and work with educators on arts integration. And I started my own indie theatre series in New Westminster.


Can you tell us about Way Off-Broadway Wednesday?
Devon: Way Off-Broadway Wednesday is the underground theatre series I run. It’s my effort to keep the “Fringe” spirit alive year round, and create a casual live performance space that is inclusive, unspoiled by market capitalism, and connects people face-to-face. It started by accident in November 2016: I was in the middle of a month-long run in the cozy cabaret-style back room of The Heritage Grill (a legendary local music venue in New Westminster, BC). And then He Who Shall Remain Nameless was elected on Tuesday, November 8th… Performing Berlin Waltz (my Cold War cabaret that details the history of the Berlin Wall and my years living in the city) the following night – to coincide with November 9th’s anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall – was strange: suddenly “Walls” were a hot topic again – and much closer to home. But it also was therapeutic and empowering to share the incredible story of the peaceful revolution enacted by ordinary people that ultimately destroyed the Berlin Wall and the oppressive regime behind it. I have been programming a different weird, wild, and wonderful weekly work ever since. Every Wednesday night, at 7pm, Way Off-Broadway presents a unique show, ranging from Fringe circuit hits, to intimate storytelling events, to first readings of brand new plays. And W.O.W. always operates at a postcapitalist price point: Pay-What-You-Want, with proceeds going directly to the evening’s performers.

What does Devon More like to do when she’s not performing?
Devon: Surf. Cycle. Swim. Be a super auntie to my 2 nieces and 1 nephew.

You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Devon: Patti Smith, Bonnie Raitt, and Ella Fitzgerald. I’d cook whatever was in season at the nearest farmer’s market.

You are bringing FLUTE LOOPS to the Edmonton Fringe. Can you tell us about it?
Devon: Flute Loops is a comedic music-based play set at the rock concert of a hipster band: The Flute Loops have just gone viral, thanks to Thomas’ knack for translating face-melting guitar solos from classic rock into fancy fingerwork on the flute. I play Thomas’ girlfriend: a classical music-loving, quantum physics PhD student (and fish-out-of-water) who is filling in at the merch table for the evening. The concert doesn’t run as expected…and it might have something to do with my character’s thesis project, which aims to warp space-time – using the pressure of sound waves. It’s worth mentioning that she is heavily under the influence – of Stephen Hawking.

Where did the idea come from?
Devon: Flute Loops started at the intersection of music and math. I wanted the subject matter of this summer’s show to be relevant to my method of music-making. I often work with a loop-station so that I can live-mix the accompaniment for my songs, and in effect play several instruments at once; the result is a progression of patterns and intervals that made math seem like the natural choice. And math lead me to fall down the rabbit hole of Quantum Theory – which from a writer’s perspective is so rich with philosophical questions about the nature of space, time, and certainty. At it’s core, Flute Loops is an exploration of the “space between” – whether it be the intervals between music notes, the gaps in our subatomic structure, or the alienation we feel as humans.


Can you tell us about the backing band?
Devon: If I am honest, I put a lot of my pet peeves regarding the worst of musician-types onto The Flute Loops’ band members. They’re a 4-piece band of attractive, straight white guys who managed to go viral thanks to a gimmick of instrumentation, sloppy, sexualized lyrics, and an infectious dance video. Thanks to this taste of fame, their egos have grown so big they can’t even be bothered to turn up on time for their audience. The Flute Loops’ also rely heavily on “samples” from pop music, which in turns inspires my character to sample some of the most famous riffs and licks – from the classical genre…! I had a chance to spend a month composing the soundtrack at the Lookout Arts Quarry (in Washington) this spring: the resulting indie rock songs explore the nature of space-time, and are embedded with traces of Ravel, Mozart, Strauss, and Beethoven – among others.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show in the streets?
Devon: Flute Loops is a rock opera about quantum physics where anything that can happen does… Only suitable for patrons who like live music, strong female characters, and – this is important: who have a sense of humour. Another useful prerequisite would be a small degree of curiosity about the universe. We’ll warp space-time, and transcend all 4 dimensions…and sometimes the spirit of Stephen Hawking even swings by.

What does the rest of 2018 have in store for Devon More?
Devon: After spending 5 months on the road this year, I’m looking forward to a creative and productive autumn back home in East Van. I miss my Hang Lucy bandmates! We will be hitting local stages. I have a brain full of new story and song ideas to bring to fruition, along with an exciting season at Way Off-Broadway Wednesday.




Fri Aug 17 @ 8:30pm
Sat Aug 18 @ 12:15pm
Tues Aug 21 @ 2:30pm
Wed Aug 22 @ 6:00pm
Thurs Aug 23 @ 11:30pm
Sun Aug 26 @ 4:00pm


Sat Sept 8 @ 6:15pm
Mon Sept 10 @ 8:15p
Tues Sept 11 @ 7:45pm
Thurs Sept 13 @ 5:00pm
Sat Sept 15 @ noon
Sun Sept 16 @ 8:15pm

Neu Reekie #2: With the Vaselines, The Pastels & Linton Kwesi Johnson


Leith Theatre
August 17th

With Neu Reekie events, you know it’s going to be an eclectic mix of performances with a thread of connection running between them, with a challenge to trace the links and currents between one and the next. The loyal followers of these legendary mashups of animation, music and poetry veers towards an artsy, Scottish crowd with plenty of beards, craft beer and irony. They are a chilled bunch too; able to stand up through endless off-the-wall animations as the warm up entertainment. The renovated art-deco Leith Theatre is truly a beauty of a venue, with quality acoustics, a domed ceiling and a solid, spacious stage. Founders of Neu Reekie Kevin Williamson and Michael Pederson are almost like a hipper, sweary version of Ant n Dec, rightly thrilled with their continuously impressive lineups. Big respect to them for messing with the territorial hoarding that can come with the middle-class dominated arts scene in Edinburgh, as they have been at the forefront of the genre blending that is rapidly becoming commonplace.

The series of short films kept us mildly occupied for the first half an hour, kicking off with an iconic Canadian animation Ryan about the difficult life of Ryan Larkin by Chris Landreth that won an Oscar for Best Short Animation in 2005. Das Rad, a clever, short subtitled German short film featuring conversations between rocks, was also a winner of many awards. An episode of the original Batman was next, to appeal to the nostalgia of a mainly British middle-aged demographic who could fondly appreciate the kitschiness that was normal to us as children. Molly Nilsson is a Swedish singer based in Berlin. With a stereotypically serious Swedish stage presence, her slightly stilted dancing wasn’t without an underlying self-consciousness. Her clear, strong vocals matched her neat and defined appearance. Her most recent album Imaginations was released in 2017, and continues the poetic synth pop that she’s known for. Tracks like Mona Lisa’s Smile brought in a reggae soundtrack that would neatly create the vibe to welcome the following act.

Linton Kwesi Johnson influenced not just Black youth struggling under state oppression and everyday violence in the 70s, but developed a cult following across the country, particularly among the punks and reggae lovers in Scotland around that time. Author of seminal collections of dub poetry, Voices of the Living and the Dead, Dread Beat An’ Blood, Inglan is a Bitch, founder of record label LKJ Records The crowd was dutifully respectful as he outlined the life and death struggles of the Black community in London in the 70s and 80s, and made sure to emphasise that the struggle is ongoing The poems he chose touched on many of the significant moments in Black Caribbean British history in the past few decades, from the infamous Sus laws, the sickening arson attack of the New Cross Fire that inspired the Black People’s Day of Action, the resistance and uprisings that erupted across the country. Without the usual backing beat from a live band or backing track, the silence brought a solemnity to the occasion. LKJ, now in his sixties, has lost none of his gravity, power and presence. The griot of our times, he explained how the original Windrush generation heroically endured a great deal of the racism coming their way, as they had to provide for their family and make the best of their situation. However, the next generation, born in Britain had different expectations and became the rebels, fighting for many of the rights the new generation take for granted today. He finished by making the point that despite all the pressure and struggles, what a victory it has been for Caribbean people on the 70th anniversary of the Windrush to know they have successfully integrated into Britain, to huge applause and appreciation.

Wishing LKJ could have still been speaking, rather than standing around watching more animations, I waited impatiently for the next two very different sets. There was huge anticipation for the doyennes of the Scottish ‘pop-punk’ scene, the Vaselines and the Pastels. The Glaswegian duo, Eugene Kelly and Frances McKelly form the heart of the Vaselines, an alternative rock band with an interesting history, a cult following in Scotland and a wee one across the water in the grunge scene of Seattle, mainly because their songs were covered by the legendary Nirvana. With a full band to back them, their lyrics are satisfyingly strong and clear, and the good humoured banter between them and the rest of the band likely a left-over from their former marriage. Crowd favourites like Son of A Gun and Molly’s Lips had everyone rocking and enjoying themselves. The band split in 1990 and reformed in 2008 to everyone’s delight. Think slightly jangly guitars, lovely harmonies, strong storylines and some cheeky banter.

The night closed with more Scottish indie pop legends, this time in the form of band The Pastels. Having added and shed various members over the decades, the present incarnation is formed of Katrina Mitchell, Tom Crossley, Alison Mitchell, John Hogarty, Suse Bear and Stephen McRobbie (who also founded the Monorail Music shop, a hub for Glaswegian music lovers). This performance brought a full ensemble of the 6 band members on guitars, drums, keyboard, flute and vocals. Kicking off in 1981, they became a staple of the British Indie scene in the 1980’s. Fading away for a while, they had a great come back with their 2013 album Slow Summits which was shortlisted for Scottish album of the year. For a band that’s been going for 35 years, with cult status among the Brit-pop loving Japanese, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a few more decades of quirky performance yet to deliver to their adoring Scottish fans, nodding blearily but joyously along right to soothing songs like Secret Music through to the end of the night. With DJ sets by Chris Geddes and Andrew Divine thrown into the mix, you can’t say this unique night isn’t great value for money.

Lisa Williams

Pussy Riot: Riot Days



 Sunday 19th August, 2018

Seldom have I experienced Punk Rock with such potency and power. Possibly the most famous punk rock outfit in the world. Not famous for the music that they create, but famous for actually being Punk as Fuck. I mean these Girls really suffered for their art at the hands of the Russian Orthodox Church and Vladimir Putin. Imprisoned for two years for singing some of their songs in a church. Pussy Riot became world famous with freedom fighters the World over, campaigning for their release from prison, while also highlighting the Homophobic regime suffered by gay people in the Soviet Union.


As you can guess, with it being the last of Pussy Riot’s performances at Summerhall, it was completely sold out. Luckily for Divine, He has friends in high places. Thankyou Will McC for making it possible for me. People were crying because they couldn’t get a ticket. The support band Swoon warmed the audience up brilliantly, they reminded me a lot of Modern day Gary Numan, only with a beautiful blond Italian on lead vocals. Indeed they rocked. Pussy Riot were then introduced By a gentleman, Explaining thus.

Alyokhina’s show is poignant, because she very nearly didn’t make it to Edinburgh. Last week it was reported that she had “smuggled herself” out of Russia. She had refused to undertake the community service given to her after she had participated in yet another “unauthorised” protest, and as a result the government had forbidden her to leave the country. In the end she ignored their orders, drove all the way to Lithuania via Belarus, and boarded a flight there instead”


And thank god she did, because Riot Days is more than just a gig – it’s somewhere between a gripping piece of Putin-skewering musical theatre, an urgent jazz-punk book recital and a film screening that unfurls like a nerve-shredding thriller. With a cast of ever-changing actors. Turning their pain into an art form that vocalises the necessity for political change that is not too distant from the oppression of Tory austerity in the UK. These young people, all of which are under 30 years of age are such a massive inspiration for people to stand up and fight back. But fight back with Art as truth.

The performance is relentless; techno punk, with a story to tell. Projected onto a screen with film footage of Pussy Riots history and the English translation of the Russain Vocals being sung. The Dissection Room at Summerhall was packed to the rafters and every single person was immersed in the experience. Fuck the Spice Girlz. This was real Girl power.

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert.

The Great Song Cycle Song Cycle


August 20-25 (20:35) 

Triplex Studio, The Space UK

I have just witnessed one of the most startlingly enigmatic pieces I have ever beheld at the Fringe. An enchantress of astounding ability & a music-maker of kaleidoscopic proportions, Joanna Wallfisch wants to tell us a story. Caught with the restless spirit of adventure, she cycled the Pacific coast of the United States. ‘Your eyesight tangibly improves,’ she tells us, ‘from looking outward every day.’ We are totally at one with her, & can almost visibly see the mountain passes & eternal beaches she describes.

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A journey through the meditation of the road, adventure, beauties, strange things and people and more.
Read the full interview…

The tale is constantly accompanied by her deft ukulele work & her complete mastery of loop-pedals, which swathe her poetical words with a mesmerizing soundscape. Sometimes she speaks her simile-laden soliloquies, sometimes she sings her self-crafted songs exquisitely, all times she wears an expression of sheer sweetness. Joanna Wallfisch is a 21st century troubadour par excellence, a siren on the shores of sublime thought, & to see her perform is something of a necessity for those seeking beauty at the Fringe.


The Melomaniacs: Dust

DUST, Melomaniacs © Jean Luc Fievet (5).jpeg

The Assembly Rooms Ballroom

16th till 26th August

The Film.
The Assembly Rooms Ballroom was a fitting environment for this musical project to be presented. Performed against a cinematic backdrop on which the film “Dust” was projected, a collaboration with the New York based photographer Jean Luc and film maker Lee Archer. We are taken on a two week journey through America, skillfully edited into a 55 minute production. The presentation of the film is enough to give this highbrow multimedia experience a 5 Star rating.

Dust was conceived by Paul Silver, Kim Murray and myself. It emerged from a series of free wheeling Monday night jam sessions in late 2016. We found that good things happened when we made things up as we went along. Before we knew it, we had an album.
Read the full interview…

The Performance.
In the sparsely populated ballroom, complete with chandeliers, The Melomaniacs took to the stage to perform the album “Dust” in its entirety. A recorded work that has already gained rave reviews in the music press. The band walked on stage in silence. The film began and for the next 55 minutes, we the audience were taken on a musical journey of delicate ambience, full of chemistry and rich in ear-candy and eye-candy. I relished Mike Marlin and Kim Murray’s expert guitar playing, weaving sonic pleasure and making every note count. There was also Paul Silvers’ Keyboards and electronic effects, complimenting the sparse musical arrangements that fully engaged the audience. Mike Marlin’s beautiful poetry sung with true soul and spiritual clarity. Just before the end of the performance an Angel arrived from the Spiritual Realms (Divines a Clairvoyant and is able to see that which most are unable to). At first I thought the Angel had arrived to compliment the experience, which of course it did. But then just before the last number, Mike told us while fighting back tears, that his Father had ascended to the Heavens two weeks ago. It was then that I knew, that the Angel was Mike’s Guardian. Musicians of this caliber are always mediums of the muse and spiritual grace. As the last echoes of Paul Silvers’ expert saxophone faded into the silence of The Melomaniacs’ fully engaged audience. The performance was over. The silence was as musical as the performance and film that we had just experienced.

After the performance we had the opportunity to congratulate and thank the band at the Merchandise stall, where I was presented with a beautiful coffee table style hardbacked book of the photography Jean Luc Fievet had taken on the adventure, A copy of the LP and tucked in the lapel of the beautiful book a copy of the compact disc. All bound together with Melomaniac ribbon. Being a DJ of ambient and chill out, The Melomaniacs beautiful sonic fidelity will be part of my DJ sets for years to come. Delicate, Moving And Powerful Art.

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

Mike Marlin. The Visionary, Guitar And Vocals
Paul Silver Keyboards, Electronic Effects And Saxophone.
Kim Murray.Guitar.
Danny Monk. The Sound Engineer.
Jean Luc Fievet. The Photographer.
Film Maker. Lee Archer.

Swingin’ The Fringe

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Assembly Checkpoint, Bristo Place
Aug 13th (21.30) 14th (18.30) 15th (15.00)

Two weeks or so into the great festival of the arts this the Edinburgh Fringe a cavalry of colour has just rode into town, all guns blazing. A collaboration as romantic as Napoleon & Josephine, the Jive Aces swing band has found a perfect soul mate with the Satin Dollz. Together they gallop through their keenly-selected ouvre, drawn from the rich treasury of the last middle century, bringing each song to life with dancing, singing, costume changes, confidence & style.

All the band were splendidly dressed in the baggy trousers of the 1940s, & all were incredibly tight to the task & the tune. Jive Ace’s daddy-o crooner Ian Clarkson on trumpet & vocals, Vince Hurley on Piano, John Fordham on Tenor sax, Ken Smith bashing his double bass with a grin, Peter Howell on Drums, Alex Douglas on Trombone & the immensely welcome presence of Lottie B on Baritone sax. For the third song, like Valkyries of the Nibelungen, three of the Satin Dollz – the singers – flew in. The voices of Coco, Bella & Lena harmonized & energized. Into the next song bounded the dancing Dollz, Kitti & Peach, adding yet another dimension to the occasion. As the full package, the Aces & Dollz are pure performers, with songs like Shoo Shoo Baby & Too Darn Hot in particular being delivered with the most theatrical flourish.


“Swinging the Fringe” is our first show at the Fringe with the Satin Dollz – it is upbeat fun jive and swing music with the gals tap dancing, singing and great choreography with colorful frocks and suits with the style and glamor of the 40s and 50s
Read the full interview

The show had begun late, with the group telling the Mumble, ‘sorry about that, as it happens, surprisingly, 30 minutes isn’t enough to get one act off the stage and the audience out and then move and set up entire band equipment for 12 people from another floor!’ The show also ended late, on account of the stream of encores forced upon the Aces & Dollz by a full house audience which had increased in enthusiasm with every beat. Indeed, at the very end the entire audience stood up & were invited to leap themselves into the final dance – to which every single person acceeded with delight.