John Robert Ferguson

 

Tour Archive January 08

In January 2008 Tron Lennon completed a brief tour culminating in a performance at Transmediale 08:

 
Side Cafe - Newcastle (UK)

Side Cafe provided an intimate ambience for this Flipside concert which served as a good local warm-up, the playing experience felt good and a capacity audience helped make this a successful night.

 

Winning Post - York (UK)
 

Liaising with Will Edmondes, this concert followed up on an earlier CETL funded project (a free improvisation workshop led by John Edwards and Mark Sanders) and featured mesmerizing performances from some local practitioners including Karl DSilva, Gwilly Edmondez and Matt Postle. The electronics in my guitar malfunctioned just before our performance, this contributed to a rather tense set, perhaps lacking in dialogue somewhat but relatively cohesive nonetheless. I discovered a new strategy for performing with light sensors, activating the circuit by gripping a torch between my teeth, thus keeping both hands free to do other things. The evening maintained a workshop like atmosphere throughout and we were made to feel very much at home amongst this inquisitive audience.

 

Queen Charlotte - Norwich (UK)
 

Having left York at 8.30 am we arrived in Norwich early afternoon and managed to get my guitar successfully repaired. The ‘Queen Charlotte’ advertises live ‘music’ seven nights a week, on arrival we were impressed by the scale and layout of the venue and with a helpful engineer soundcheck ran glitch free. Although planned as an evening of ‘live electronic experimentation’, unknown to us the architecture of this event had changed beyond all recognition, resulting in us headlining a night of singer songwriters. Taking the stage at 11pm, following three hours of acoustic guitar based repertoire was an uncomfortable situation. The mood in the room fed directly into our music, a drone based set ensued, not deliberately confrontational, but still perhaps perceived as antagonistic. We played quite well, compositional form suffered somewhat, but expectations were questioned:

‘I’ve never heard anything like this before!’ (Queen Charlotte sound engineer).

 

<>TAG - The Hague (NL)

Tag gallery in Den Hagg is an arts space consisting of a gallery, performance area and office. We struggled to park the van as the entire street was being regenerated, and had to carry all the equipment by hand through a building site, a distance of over 200 meters! The gig felt good, exploring the torch in mouth strategy again, pulses from my analogue electronics worked well with Paul’s turntable manipulations. Musically, the performance felt far more brutal than either of us thought we were capable of. The visual projections were less than ideal, a small screen, some distance from the audience with our movements casting shadows onto it. During post-gig discussion we received some constructive criticism from Kier Neuringer, artistic director of Tag Gallery and a well-known local musician/live cinema practitioner:

‘My biggest problem with it was the video, the music was visceral and alive, the visuals were not, very little correlation between the two. The only time it really worked was the couple of times when the vinyl scratching could be seen, when the music stops, the visual does not. It caries on, a big no no!’

In highlighting the fact that we are musicians not visual practitioners Keir’s comments raised questions with which we still grapple, giving us plenty of food for thought whilst traveling towards the final performances of the tour. For example, what is our relationship to a flat, rectangular, framed projection? Do the visuals distract from the interaction inherent in our music making?

We could not remove our equipment from Tag Gallery until 11am the next morning and then got lost trying to navigate around a (foreign) one-way system, finally leaving The Hague at midday. This was not a great start to a ten-hour, 700km drive from The Hague to Berlin.

 

Salon Bruit - Berlin (DE)

On arriving in Berlin we once again got very lost, after various phone calls to the promoter it turns out that there was more than one Kastanienallee in Berlin and we were at the opposite side of the city. Feeling stressed and nearing a point of total exhaustion we were barely on speaking terms, so opted to play a stripped down, mostly analogue set with no visuals at 2am. This experience was a revelation. There was then, and still is now an inherent compromise within our visual setup; for Paul the latency introduced via digital processing of time-coded vinyl is felt as a lack of control and tactility, and the sound of digital audio files does not compare with the sound, flexibility and realness of analogue vinyl. For me, not having to setup behind a table and in front of a laptop camera allowed me to readopt my preferred floor-based performance setup with no audience/performer separation. Crouching on the floor surrounded by tactile technologies facilitated musical chaos and accidental triggering of audio, an inherent part of my practice.

Club Transmediale @ Maria - Berlin (DE)

Tron lennon Transmediale08 Pic

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After much debate we decided to divide the performance into two halves, with and without visuals. Performing under the Club Transmediale theme of Unpredictable the start of our performance was fitting as my light sensors accidentally triggered huge amounts of sub bass frequencies at extreme volume. This came as somewhat of a surprise to Paul since it was not a process with which Tron Lennon would usually begin. Nevertheless we embraced the challenge, playing a difficult but enjoyable 25 minute music set. For the last fifteen minutes we activated the visuals - it was great to see them projected via the huge screens surrounding the main room.