|Now '96, Essence, Nottingham, England
30th November 1996
A GUY CALLED GERALD ESSENCE, NOTTINGHAM
THE promoters of Nottingham's Now '96 festival have collected together Internet performances from Zion Train (live in Europe, allegedly) and Mr C, whose virtual presence is being netted direct from The End in London. The future of clubbing? Who cares. What we're here for is a live set from seminal drum'n'bass head A Guy Called Gerald, complete with visuals from Buggy G Riphead, who was responsible for those FSOL computer images.
Opening with a slow thud from a talking drum, the room gradually fills with the sound of an African choir endlessly chanting their harmonised mantra of "A-fri-ca, A-fri-ca", the combination of sounds creating a tense ambience, threatening to erupt until a heavily echoed violin comes in to keep the lid on the pressure cooker. High notes cut through the smoky room, testing our sonic tolerance levels, pitching towards a glass-shattering crescendo. The onstage TV screens display nightmare images morphing with liquid, acid fractals melting into Super-8 street fights. Suddenly the warm sound of a piano and female voice attempts to calm things down. Until Gerald hits the button marked "breakbeats" and the audience bursts into life.
It's the junglism that the crowd wants. The tension has been stretched for 15 minutes so the sense of relief which fills the room as the grooves kick in is almost audible. There are piano arpeggios in a minor key, followed by the violin; it's like a drum'n'bass Philip Glass where the beats and timbres are inextricably intertwined to create a hybridised tension. Classical junglism - two genres meeting in a stylistic collision, both the music of mathematics in their own way, come together fora session of number crunching. Twenty-five minutes of total excellence.
[Reviewer: MARTIN JAMES]