Hulme Group MInd

On Friday night I got the bus to Hulme to see Richard Norris take his ambient/deep listening project on the road. The two Group Mind Abstractions albums he’s put out this year have remained close to my turntable since their release and should be available on the NHS- their effect as a kind of aural medicine, totally absorbing mind clearers and mood enhancers is second to none.

The event was at the Niamos, an old theatre close to the city centre, formerly the Nia Centre and before that the Hulme Hippodrome and Grand Junction. Hulme was famously the home of the Crescents and the birthplace of Factory. Now there are masses of student residences right up to the theatre, buzzing on a warm Friday night. Niamos is an arts and culture hub, cans of Red Stripe behind the bar, the faded grandeur of the theatre interior and a boho vibe. It’s so relaxed there wasn’t even anyone checking tickets on the door. I was expecting a Group Mind night for some reason and hadn’t quite realised until I got there that Richard was supporting a Brighton band/collective called Partial Facsimile. A see through screen was hung across the front of the stage with fractals, shapes and digital waves and cities projected onto it during Richard’s set. He played for just over half an hour, long drawn out sounds, warm waves of ambient noise and twinkling riffs, the 5.1 surround sound really proving its value. Sitting in the main, tiny auditorium as part of a very small crowd- there were fewer than thirty people there- the effect was striking, encompassing and enveloping. I loved it but wanted more. I’d have happily immersed myself in the Group Mind for another hour or two.

Partial Facsimile are a surround sound and visual art collective, four guitarists, three playing sitting down, and a drummer plus keys playing long, drone rock, plenty of reverb and space with FX pedals- a¬† little like an expanded Spacemen 3 but without the drugs and the walking with Jesus. The songs comment on modern life- commuting, social media, lives lived through screens, fake news, climate change, Brexit, immigration- and films cutting up images of the same projected onto the screen while the group play. At the end of each song a QR code appears, linking to articles and research. Pretty interesting and worth seeing even if the realisation that I wasn’t getting any more Richard Norris and his Group Mind initially left me a bit deflated. Below is a clip, a minute’s worth, that I took during Richard’s set. I don’t usually film parts of gigs on my phone but having a visual and audio record of this show seemed like a good idea- part of me wishes I’d filmed the whole thing.

Re-Animations

In 2009 Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve released a compilation album rounding up their remixes and re-animations of a bunch of artists- The Chemical Brothers, Franz Ferdinand, Late Of The Pier, Peter, Bjorn and John, Tracey Thorn, Badly Drawn Boy, Goldfrapp, Midlake, Dust Galaxy, Real Ones, Simian Mobile Disco and Findlay Brown. At the same time that album was released Erol Alkan and Richard Norris were asked to mix all their versions together into a single, hour long set for a special download edition. They went back to their versions, took some of them apart again, re-assembled them and then stitched the whole thing together. A decade later it has re-appeared online for your enjoyment, an hour of psychedelic, electronic, time shifting, retro- futuristic exploration. There should be something in this for everyone to enjoy.

 

Group Mind

I’ve mentioned it a couple of times already this year but it bears repeating- Richard Norris’ ambient album Abstractions Volume 1 is a wonderful record/download, the very embodiment of chill out. I know some of you agree- Drew and I discussed it when we met for a pint on Thursday night. Richard has done several mixes for his Group Mind project all in a similar vein to the album and this one, Group Mind Mix 004, is ace, over an hour of immersive warm sounds, experimental ambient, drone and piano pieces. Perfect for Sunday.

Monday’s Long Song

Richard Norris’ ambient album Abstractions Volume 1 has been on heavy rotation round Bagging Area Towers since it came out in February. It is a stunner, four beautiful and completely absorbing meditations, what Richard tags ‘deep listening’- nothing much happens but it doesn’t matter, nothing happens really nicely . It draws you in, fixes you and as I said somewhere else recently works really well as a kind of aural Valium. And God knows we all need some of that from time to time, in these chaotic and depressing days especially so.

The vinyl edition has four tracks- the download comes with Confluence 2 as an additional one, a twenty minute journey to nowhere/here.

Shorelines

This is new from Richard Norris, the first fruits of his current ambient direction and label Group Mind, a gentle instrumental that drifts very nicely, drone overlaid with melody.

The shoreline above is the Atlantic, Messanges, south west France, pictured in the summer of 2017. Just in case you were wondering.

Group Mind

That’s week one done. To celebrate the end of the working week here’s a brand new mix from Richard Norris who’s on an ambient tip at the moment. He’s just started a group/label/forum/series of events called Group Mind and kicked it off with a two hour mix of ambient, drone and deep listening. A sure fire way to improve your day, switch your mind off for a while and focus on something else. Includes tracks from¬†Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Wilson Tanner, Jas Shaw, Penelope Trappes, Elaine Gazzard, Hiroshi Yoshimura, Alarm Will Sound, Erland Cooper, Chihei Hatakeyama, Richard himself and BBC Radiophonic Workshop legend Delia Derbyshire.

Reading My Mind

Jeez- the previous Circle Sky single (If I Let Go) was a good one, a real 2018 highlight, but they’ve now given us this one as a follow up. A sublime piece of subtle, emotive, electronic music that reveals a little more each time you click play.