Review: Instrumental

Union Chapel Studio
20th March 2003

60 Buddhas (Catherine Browning)
Lachrymosa (Brian Wright)
Duno (Andy Nice)
Forever (P & P Hartnoll, arr. Sally Ward)
Spacefish (Joby Talbot)
Smokebelch (Sabres of Paradise, arr. C. Browning)
Harp (C. Browning)
Bathtime (P & P Hartnoll)
Piano (C. Browning)
The Great Sound of Letting Go (Moodswings, arr. Jason Hazeley)

Catherine Browning (Violin)
Brian Wright (Violin)
Sally Ward (Viola)
Andy Nice (Cello)
Andy Waterworth (Bass)

Think Steve Martland meets ambient club land and you're somewhere on the way to defining this string quintet. As an ensemble very much focused on re-inventing dance music for a classical ensemble, it's no great surprise that their collaborations with other artists/composers have stepped into the dance arena. Having debuted here with material from their first album Acoustek, Instrumental returned to Union Chapel armed with new tracks and commissioned works from the likes of Orbital and Joby Talbot. Whereas Acoustek was primarily an album featuring arrangements of existing composers' works, Instrumental's second offering is made up of the quintet's own compositional creations over the last year.

The night opened with Catherine Browning's "60 Buddhas". John Adrian's visuals served as the main focal point, as the sounds of Instrumental washed over the audience minus the quintet's presence on stage. The second track of the set (Lachrymosa) was based around a poignant violin line (Brain Wright) that easily commanded the listeners' attention over a simple bass and cello accompaniment. By the time "Duno" was underway, Instrumental were fully assembled on stage and producing an energy driven performance. Effects and sound design were used throughout many of the tracks, enhancing the dance element of the quintet's style.

Joby Talbot's "Spacefish" was inspired by a photograph of "some curious carp apparently floating in mid-air" taken by his wife at London Aquarium. Guesses can only be made as to what kind of expression the fish were wearing, but if the pace of this work was anything to go by, they may have needed to come up for air. The piece worked up into a relentless frenzy with jarring rhythms and a minimalist approach towards the motif that featured throughout. In stark contrast "Bathtime" stood out as a comical little number courtesy of the Orbital brothers. The bellowing English charm of this track snuck between sea shanty and nursery rhyme, with Andy Waterworth on bass conjuring up a quirky sense of pomp and merriment. Tracks such as "Harp" didn't always have enough sense of definition or variance to keep the listener hooked, but the overall impression of the quintet was a tight, rhythmically driven ensemble.

As Instrumental encored with material from Acoustek, a cheerful surge of recognition emanated from the audience - evidently as appreciative of old material as they were of the new.

- Helenka Bednar

See Also: Classical Events in London

BLAM!, Peacock Theatre - London Theatre TicketsBLAM! - Neander's productions display limitless physical expression along with boundless curiosity.
Die Fledermaus, London Coliseum - London Theatre TicketsDie Fledermaus - Johann Strauss 's classic operetta Die Fledermaus is a comic story of revenge, seduction and mistaken identity.
Peter Grimes, London Coliseum - London Theatre TicketsPeter Grimes - The story of fisherman Peter Grimes and his uneasy relationship with the other inhabitants... Rigoletto, London Coliseum - London Theatre TicketsRigoletto - Verdi's story through the patriarchal environment of a 19th century gentleman's club...
The Snowman, Peacock Theatre - London Theatre TicketsThe Snowman - When a young boy's snowman comes to life on christmas eve, the two set off on a night time quest for adventure...
Fidelio, London Coliseum - London Theatre TicketsFidelio - Two hundread years after its premiere, Beethoven's Fidelio continues to thrill audiences...
Le Corsaire, London Coliseum - London Theatre TicketsLe Corsaire - A thrilling ballet about Conrad, a dashing pirate and his love for Medoraa...
Shadowland, Peacock Theatre - London Theatre TicketsShadowland - Peacock Theatre - This groundbreaking new performance by internationally acclaimed dance troupe Pilobolus is best described as part shadow act, part dance, part circus and part concert...