Pram, James Blackshaw, Human Bell
Helen Newbery 26/04/2008
So, for the last 7 years, Triptych has brought the best in music and the visual arts to Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow. This weekend saw the last ever of these annual treats, before apparently re-emerging in a new form (the precise details of which have yet to be revealed).
Appropriating most of the venues in all three cities for the weekend, the festival is hosting three diverse acts at the Bongo Club this evening. First on are Human Bell, from Baltimore and Louisville. They comprise two guitarists (even if one of them has a double neck) and one drummer. Given that there are only the three of them on stage, however, their sound shows a surprising expansiveness and variety: at times there's a bluesy Americana, at other times there's a far rockier sound, and sometimes they sound almost wistful.
Following on is London's James Blackshaw. The kind of astonishingly accomplished guitarist that you simply don't come across very often, he appropriates diverse musical styles and makes them his own. During 'River of Heaven', if you close your eyes and let the music wash over you, there really is the feeling of flowing water. At other times there's a more upbeat feeling, and overall, there's a surprising amount of variety on offer, considering there's just one man and a guitar on stage.
Birmingham's Pram have produced an eclectic series of albums through the years, typified by last year's The Moving Frontier. This evening's focus rests equally between their music and the films from Film Ficciones which are being projected onto two orbs in front of the stage and a screen behind it. Always inventive, and at times disturbing, the visuals seem to be at one with the music. Combining lush electronica with guitars, oboes, keyboards, and many other instruments too numerous to list, these talented multi-instrumentalists create swirling and atmospheric soundscapes. For me, a slight disappointment of the night was that there were no vocals, as the lush and wistful voice of Rosie Cuckston is a highlight of Pram's sound on record.
However, overall, the night provided an eclectic programme of varying styles, without a vocalist in sight!