Miles Davis with a MacBook

Ideas of Noise festival is still a low key new(ish) entry to the musical calendar of the Midlands. I only discovered it at the last minute due to Supersonic festival posting on Instagram from the Experimental Writing on Experimental Music workshop on the Friday (I nearly wept, realising I’d missed that workshop!). Hence, this is less a round-up of the whole festival and more a snapshot of the three main bands I managed to catch on the Saturday evening.

Ideas of Noise festival is how I imagine Miles Davis would have sounded, if he’d lived long enough to own a MacBook. A line of thought that leads to the realisation that anyone who complains that electronic musicians spend too much of the gig head down over the laptop forget what it was like to watch a jazz drummer lost in a near fugue state, following a beat down a rabbit hole.

Anna Palmer, also of Dorcha brings her box of archive tricks and live vocals to the stage for a set that ebbs and flows between harmonic and overflowing chaos (this being an avant-festival, it’s the good kind of chaos). The sounds come thick and fast, tasters of ideas and potential future avenues of exploration. What Palmer dishes out in half an hour (more or less) other bands would make several albums of. Mixing live vocals and archived sounds, we’re taken down several possible avenues, where we root around and uncover hidden gems before ending on a wave of beautifully sung lyrics. Occasionally she brings a live guitar into the mix which, to my ears at least, added a noise/funk vibe to one track midway through the set.

Gonimoblast Duo plays as a stripped-down version of Chris Mapp’s usual five piece band. Bass player Chris being joined by Birmingham-based Annie Mahtami, composer and sound artist for this gig. Imagine being lured down a back alley and discovering an abandoned flying saucer. That’s what this set felt like. We slowly rise up on slow melodious soundscapes and the audience lose themselves in reverie. Playing comfortably within acceptable musical and sonic boundaries for the first half of the set, the two-piece lure you in. Then you discover the hidden sonic torture chamber. Judging by the thumbs up two gents in the audience gave each other as a high pitched sonic wave crashed on to the shores of our inner minds (and inner ears), this is the room we were searching for all along. Eventually we touch back down to earth, returning to the harmonious rhythms again. Gonimoblast Duo Deliver a solid set that feels like you’ve been to alpha centauri and reluctantly brought back to Earth.

Strobes, being keyboardist Dan Nicholls (Squarepusher, Vula Viel), drummer Dave Smith (Robert Plant, Outhouse) and Matt Calvert (Three Trapped Tigers) on guitar and synthesisers. Strobes, bounce into the high notes and keep us there in a whirligig of playful semi-improvisation that belies their complex melodies. We’re hit with a funk groooove (extra ‘o’s intentional) that has a taste all of their very own making. Cranking up the reverb and the crashing drums, they’re the perfect end to the Saturday night. Echo from the output fills the room and then cuts to a funk bassline stirring the audience and working magic on our hips as we run over the 11 o’clock finish time.
Ideas of Noise is still a small, intimate sort of festival nestled in he Edge, an artists’ space in Birmingham with some events at Vivid Projects, just over the road at Minerva Works. Go while it still feels like a unique, exclusive discovery; but tell all your friends, because it deserves to be discovered by everyone.