Sunday, 31 July 2016

Drone Ensemble at UnEARTH

Last night the Drone Ensemble played as part of TOC's UnEARTH event at Alphabetti Theatre.

"UnEarth at Alphabetti Theatre will showcase some of Newcastle's most interesting experimental and electronic musicians. From artists pushing the boundaries of live coding, improvisation and a number of creators building their own instruments, UnEarth is sure to be a highlight of the summer. Expect to experience the power of the acoustic drone and get your grove on to some seriously dancey vibes."

Performers included Mr Blazey, Jamie Cook, Ben Jeans Houghton, The Drone Ensemble, Phil Begg, Shelly Knotts and co¥ᄀpt aka Sean Cotterill.

Mr Blazey kicked off with his Kalimbo Project:

"[This project] is an attempt to apply collage techniques to every level of a musical performance; a thumb-piano ‘collaged’ together from everyday objects (lunch box, cupboard door handles, bike spokes etc.) contains motion and touch sensors which control effects while triggering, layering and juxtaposing fragments of samples and found-sounds through simple gestures. Expect exploratory shifting layers of ambient drones sprinkled with sloppy beats."

Check out the demo here:

The Drone Ensemble were next up. We began with one of the friction drums, then gradually added another friction drum, followed by another. 


Edwin then introduced the large hurdy gurdy and after a while Ben shifted from playing the friction drum to playing the pipe gurdy. Later, I left my friction drum and took over from Edwin on the hurdy gurdy as he moved onto the percussion, shortly followed by Bex. 

Ben moved back to the friction drum for the remainder of the set. Bex and Edwin gradually faded out the percussion, and Edwin joined me on the hurdy gurdy, pressing on the strings to alter the sound produced. We ended the set by gradually fading out the hurdy gurdy.

We were pleased with how the performance was received, and felt it suited being played in such a venue. Unlike some other places where we have played, at the Alphabetti theatre each of the performers could hear the sound of the instrument they were playing. Hopefully the recording (which will go on the Drone Ensemble soundcloud soon) will sound as good.

Ben Jeans Houghton followed our set. creating layered loops with a multitude of instruments and his voice. Awesome!

For more information about Ben's work visit

No comments: