Nicholas Lativy

Clang Sayne at Cafe Oto

Cafe Oto is quiet on this bleak bank holiday weekend night, even the sound technicians are on holiday. My only familiarity with tonight’s artists prior to the show was one gorgeous Clang Sayne track on the Wire Tapper 22. Still, with no other plans for the weekend, a show at Cafe Oto - London’s foremost venue for new music - seemed like a pretty good idea.

James O'Sullivan

The night starts off with Hyperpotamus who builds up funky songs and dreamy ballads with just four microphones, some loop pedals and his own voice. It’s an awesome spectacle to behold as he commences singing a few notes or beat-boxing into a mic and we watch as almost magically they come together to form intricate multi-layered compositions. In between he talks to the audience and introduces tracks with names such as The Unhappy Hedonist. For Someone Somewhere lulls us into a dreamland with its gorgeous rhythms as Hyperpotamus intones “Leave your fucking phone off, no use for that here”. When he finishes a queue quickly forms around the merchandise table to pick up a copy of his 2009 debut CD Largo Bailón along with the complementary clothes peg.

He is followed by James O’Sullivan who performs solo improvisations on prepared electric guitar. The electric sound is a departure from what I’m accustomed to hearing from the instrument. Softly and with great precision James draws a soulful lament from the aether. Whether rubbing the guitar with the head of a drumstick, tapping its strings with a spanner or dragging its head across the floor, each tiny contact births a new and wondrous sound.

Laura Hyland

James then joins up with Laura Hyland and the rest of Clang Sayne for the main performance. The group are comprised of Laura on vocals and guitar, James O’Sullivan, bassist Peter Marsh and percussionist Paul May and are backed by gorgeous blue projections of organic forms. Blending sounds more often associated with free improvisation with more traditional song-forms the group’s music seems like a natural extension of James’ earlier solo set. It retains the beautiful restrained feel but adds rhythm along with Laura’s emotionally charged lyrics crying out softly into the dark. As the gig comes to a close I pick up a copy of every CD available and head home to listen on loop.