Electronica and Improvisation at Hope Chapel


Some images and words from Alan Dearling

Billed as “a night of experimental, psychedelic and electronic sounds”, it provided a great opportunity to spend a few hours in this rather remarkable and imposing venue in the heart of the artistic centre of Hebden Bridge. In fact, this Baptist Chapel is still a working church – but it also engages with arts, music and recording facilities and other community-focused events. It’s a real treat of a space for music – superb acoustics, an upstairs balcony, and an area behind the pulpit for image projections.

Three sets of musicians performed. All different in styles and contents, and obviously every member of the audience had their own preconceptions and preferences – me included. But, I was very involved in photographing the event, so probably didn’t pay as much attention to the music as many who sat enthralled in the wooden pews. I was up and down stairs from the lower ground floor auditorium and darting around the gallery.

During the three sets from Fire Tower 4, Lines of Silence and Scissorgun and dj-ing from Paul Owens from Muse Music Café, the Live:Lab did a great job projecting images onto the back wall of the chapel and making sure that the sound was par excellence. Fire Tower 4 moulded themselves into the fabric of the space and the community. It was welcoming. Intimate, friendly and engaging. They told us that they do not arrive with a set list and genuinely improvise with whoever is part of that day’s collective. The results were lyrical, lush and each performer seemed to allow space, freedom and fluidity for their colleagues. World jazz music, shades of techno and EDM, pulsating beats, scat vocals. As they said, “No two Fire Tower 4 performances are ever the same.” A lovely way to create a creative portal into the evening’s performances.

Indeed, a bit of musical magic! Video (but rockier than at the Hope): https://youtu.be/0dvf8Gn94UM

Lines of Silence call themselves purveyors of “space music from under the soil”. A very intense show, much more free jazz than psychedelia to my ears. Dark soundscapes, ghostly scraping and creakings from scary monsters just out of view.

Well-supported by locals in the audience who were obviously very personally involved in the fairly ambient and at times quite musically challenging sounds. They have recently released their second album, ‘Stations of the Sun’. https://linesofsilence.bandcamp.com/album/stations-of-the-sun

Lots of interesting experiments in found sounds, loops and musical excursions from Scissorgun. They are a duo consisting of Alan Hempsall on guitar and vocals, combined with an array of keys and computer gizmos commanded by David Clarkson. David is a veritable veteran of electronic programming and production.

It varied in tone and tempo from aural cinematic film clips to quite noisy rock ‘n’ roll. I bought Clarkson’s 2023 new album, which is created from field recordings described as ‘A pocket guide to Dream Land’ – “faded fairgrounds and coastal ghost towns of the British Isles”. Quirky and not without humour. Scissorgun short live video clip: https://www.facebook.com/scissorgun/videos/527130419523040

A mixed musical canvas and very special venue, a space made more special by friendly organisers, performers and the sound and lighting crew.

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