IMMIX ENSEMBLE feat. JAMES CANTY
Now in their third year on the scene, there’s a sense of occasion when IMMIX ENSEMBLE reappear for a show every few months. With collaboration at the heart of the project, there’s no predicting what it’ll sound like, except that the next gig will sound different again. This is their first time in Buyers Club, but its similarities with Edge Hill home-ground Metal – a repurposed brick shoebox with friendly acoustics – are obvious.
The first half of the programme is devoted to Outfit frontman Andrew Hunt’s solo work as DIALECT. It’s a waste of time describing this highly individual voice with comparisons, suffice to say it’s not Outfit, it just sounds like momentary music. Waterfront Epiphany betrays its origins in an abrasive synthworld, emerging from the delicate woodwind and string arrangement as a chatty, pointillist debutant.
The Philip Glass Ensemble comes to mind more than once tonight. Though Immix commission Rays Of Light’s cellular structure is reminiscent of the composer’s style, and the instrumentation similar to that group, it’s a more of a general feel about the event than any specific musical influence. The intimacy of Buyers Club’s upper room, where even the occupants of the rear benches are pretty close to the players, and the lack of a barrier between orchestral timbres and pop styles result in a kind of happening. One crucial difference: as with each Immix collaboration so far, everything is a début. The audience at the Philip Glass Ensemble’s first concert numbered just six; in our loft tonight, it’s standing room only.
After the interval it’s the fount of all charisma JAMES CANTY’s turn to play. Immix’s line-up (a sextet of cello, violin, bass clarinet, oboe, alto sax, and trumpet played by classical musicians) often produces a pure, sine-esque tone. After a first half accompanying Dialect’s electronic work, the brittle sound of Canty’s fingerpicking really keeps the set’s feet on the ground. In just five songs, he spans the gamut of what these collaborations can do, be it dressing up SYC as baroque pop, or creating a fully-fledged suite like Early Bird. Canty says something interesting when introducing closer Reality TV Star: “This next piece – it’s a song really, but Dan [Thorne, alto sax] called me a composer, so I’ve kind of gotta call it a piece, haven’t I?” Crossing the barriers of style is Immix’s MO. The audience are seated in rows, they listen in respectful silence to musicians playing (mostly) from sheet music, and they applaud at the end. But the atmosphere is still a gig, totally and utterly. You could explain why, but that’d miss the point. Gigs like this are probably the cutting edge of music in Liverpool right now. Vive la différence.
Stuart Miles O’Hara / @ohasm1