Wednesday 17 September 2014

Arhai & Jon Sterckx Drumscapes

Jon Sterckx - drumscapes
Jon Sterckx added his drumscapes to Arhai's wandering vistas at RichMix this week (14/09/2014) in an expansive panorama that let the mind break free of its urban shackles. This was not my first visit to hear Arhai duo Jovana Backovic and Adrian Lever, the last proving a struggle for a man who felt completely out of his depth.

Alex Teymour Housego -
Jon Sterckx and flautist Alex Teymour Housego sat cross-legged between the standing Arhai pair. This was a relaxed and collaborative affair that projected ease and pleasure through its complex themes. Sterckx latter produced a second set solo performance that allowed the audience to experience these layered narratives without us being dab hands at the cryptic crossword.

Jovana Backovic - Arhai
Linchpin Jovana Backovic was the thread for the whole performance and as ever her vocals were possessing. Rarely did you, or could you, focus on the content of her lyrics. Changing between 6 languages is in itself disorientating. More than that the words become chants and motifs rather than hooks to hang meaning onto. To either side of Backovic were keyboards linked up to a computer full of earthy noises. The combination of traditional instruments and electronic gelled seamlessly which allowed Backovic's voice to float above in her trademark ethereal stream. She continuously caught the eye, with a presence more enchanting than Morgan Le Fay at her seductive best.

Adrian Lever - Arhai
Amongst the gypsy spells and Balkan beats the cross-legged Alex Teymour Housego rotated his collection of Bansuri. His grey socked toes peeped out from under his black robes. The dancing beats bobbing them back and forth as though they were little mice eager to escape from their holes.

If Jovana Backovic was our Le Fay then Adrian Lever was our Merlin. Possessing rapid dexterity his willowy figure towered over us on Medieval dulcimer and tambura. After several aborted attempts I captured broadcaster and turntablist DJ Ritu in my sketchbook. She not only provided us with tunes before and between performances but also interviewed the musicians post performance.

DJ Ritu

It was night of layered sounds and textures that transported the mind and imagination. Jon Sterckx's drumscapes were the pinnacle of this sentiment. A revolving door of percussion instruments were played into his computer and spat out with an energising fruitfulness. The permutation seemed endless, the avenues that lay before us boundless and his performance understandably spoke of freedom. With a drum as big as the moon sitting on his knee he conjured up the image of a storyteller. While his sound spoke in a tribal voice that swelled in the pit of our stomachs.


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