Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, EC1. To 29 May. Enquiries (ansaphone/fax) on 0171-490 2118Reuse content
The London Musicians' Collective is presenting its fourth annual festival of experimental music over this Bank Holiday weekend, giving curious audiences the opportunity to sample the delights of contemporary avant-garde performers from Germany, Quebec, the USA, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Britain. The weirdest act on the line-up is arguably Keiji Haino, an enigmatic Japanese man-in-black who wails and plays very loud guitar alongside very quiet percussion for extremely long periods of time (often up to four hours at a stretch). The grooviest performer in the festival is probably Marshall Allen, now aged 71, in his European solo debut. Fond of wearing gold lame capes, Allen was saxophonist with the legendary Sun Ra Arkestra. Aficionados of free jazz consider him the Archangel Gabriel to the now- departed Ra's God. Also noteworthy is the Czech violinist and singer Iva Bittova, a popular star in Eastern Europe, who creates enchanting and seductive "world music". But the most obviously avant-garde offering is from conceptual American composer Alvin Lucier. He will be performing solo compositions for feedback, tape recorder, piano and domestic items. For "Nothing is Real", Lucier will play fragments of the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields" on the piano which will be recorded on cassette. After the last fragment has been performed, the tape is played back through a small loudspeaker hidden inside a teapot. During the playback, the lid of the pot is raised and lowered to change the resonance characteristics of the pot. Twice during the performance the pot itself is lifted off the piano lid, causing the resonance to disappear completely. Heady stuff, indeed.