Oceans of Silver and Blood - Live at Cafe Oto

Live at Cafe Oto

Oceans of Silver and Blood

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Description

Oceans of Silver and Blood - Live at Cafe Oto

As darkness fell outside so the duo of Joachim Nordwall and Mark Wastell took their places behind their instruments, assorted tone generators/synths and a tam tam respectively. This was the third time I had seen this duo play, the first two occasions, both in 2007 had been in the tiny basement of the Sound323 shop and in a packed Red Rose club, two very different performances. these days the duo have (for some inexplicable reason!!) chosen the name Oceans of Silver and Blood for the duo.

Mark Wastell has become highly skilled with the tam tam these days. Of all of the instruments I’ve seen him play down the years (are there any I haven’t seen him play?) he has probably made the tam tam his own more than any other. I don’t know any other musicians doing similar things with the instrument in this area of music today. Yet I also feel it is his most limiting instrument. Whilst his incredibly deft touch is able to conjur up the most ethereal of sounds from the metal disc these days his palette is naturally limited. Where the tam tam comes into its own is when combined with other, complimentary sounds, but these are not always easy to come by. Often when I watch people play with him they spend quite a bit of time seeking out ways with which to work with the very particular soundworld of the tam tam. Its not an easy instrument to combine into your average improv grouping.

So it was very pleasing to hear the tam tam combined with Nordwall’s droning bass-heavy synths again, as in this group the musicians have long since worked through the challenges of combining acoustic and electronic sound and have begun to build a very close musical relationship. As undulating, textured drone music goes this is as good as it gets for me. Yes the basic premise of the music was somewhat predictable, the synth sounds and resonating percussion mixing and merging in the air around the room to create a dense, highly detailed mass of sound, but it was done so well. Here and there it dropped away, leaving one or the other instrument softly purring in the spaces below. Some of these moments where gaps were left in the swathes of sound were truly gorgeous, like layers of polish peeled back to reveal the grain of a piece of wood below. I came to enjoy these little cameos of calm amidst the storm a lot more than the rest of the music as a whole.

As I had wanted Julie to get a good view of what the musicians were up to we sat in a corner alongside the playing area (thankfully there’s no stage at Café Oto), but as the PA was peculiarly at a 90 degree angle to how the musicians were sat, the swarms of sound did odd things as they bounced around the walls of the room and reflected out from the corner behind us. Seeing the tam tam being played just a few feet in front of us, but hearing its sound coming from high behind our heads was a strange feeling. Sitting directly underneath a loose light fitting may not have been such a good idea either as when the waves of sound hit a certain frequency it vibrated madly, creating a quite remarkable and yet rather annoying sound.

This was a pleasing performance of really very beautiful music. It may not have been the most challenging set I’ve attended recently but it was certainly full of drama and excitement, underpinned by some strong musicianship. Did Julie enjoy the music? Well not much, though she said it gave her a better understanding of the music and what it is I enjoy so much in it. (Richard Pinnell www.thewatchfulear.com)

Tracklisting

Download Album (CCS10DD)
  1. Oceans of Silver and Blood (Joachim Nordwall & Mark Wastell) - Live at Cafe OTO

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