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NOW Festival 2006

19 November 06 words: Amanda Young
"This year's line-up covered a spectrum of disciplines; digital technology, sound and image, music, live art and projection"

NOW festival 2006 has been a popular and exciting month long culmination of the arts and performance, introducing cutting edge to the city’s corners. Now in its eighteenth year it has a solid following of art and music lovers. In its name top acts grace the venues and art spaces of Nottingham. This year's line-up covered a spectrum of disciplines; showing the increasing move into interdisciplinary digital technology, sound and image, music, live art and projection. I made it to some of the events listed and browsed the online art space.

Konk Pack was by far the most adventurous event in its own right. This improv band played Oct 18th at the Canal house bar, an unusual venue as the audience was kept mainly to their seats apart from a few rogues at the rear. The music spanned ambient muddles to rawkus rhythmic completion of acoustic sets and digital effects. Konk Pack (Tim Hodgkinson Thomas Lehn and Roger Turner) were swimming with each other, fighting and lost alone. The set began as the band found their feet with the instruments like naïve unsure musicians. This was rapidly turned around with Roger turner’s explorative drum sets and percussion that pulled the traveling sound into sense. Noise and melody was explored as Hodgkinson played the lap steel guitar with fascination for it’s sound. Lehn on an old EMS synthi A, drew tones and loops through and round beats, plucks and glitches. The texture of audio was phenomenal, this improvised set was utterly challenging as it shifted through peaks and troughs of sound. I found myself listening into depths of audio passing through time like they exist in the fourth dimension.

I wanted to make it so see Addictive TV’s The Eye of the Pilot at Cineworld but alas, tickets had sold out by the time I got to call. Well, if you want to see headliners perform free the NOW fest you can’t leave it till the last minute to book! I saw them play live at Stealth last year and these guys certainly knew how to bring on a good time.

Online at beherenow.org.uk is graphic artist Jonny Norridge’s, Sim Sweatshop. This is an online game of the shocking reality of global manufacturing injustice in a virtual world. The gamer is in the position of working in a sports shoe factory as a sweatshop worker. Cockily thinking, “Yeah I can make the three shoes against the clock”, it all goes drastically wrong, as food and energy levels cannot be topped up enough with the poverty wages. The game becomes a fight. Staring hard at the computer screen drained my eyes. My fingers and wrist was aching from working the mouse as I tried to make them shoes. Information on real conditions was available to reality check the game. This experience was brilliantly thought provoking and challenging, but leads me to question what is the solution to this global problem? I feel it starts from individual choices.

Another music performance that this time I felt didn’t live up to its expectations was J Spaceman’s acoustic set. Presented at St Mary’s church n the lace market, it was a belle venue for an event and should be further explored by artists and musicians. I talked to the Reverend Steven who told me about its fascinating history of three restorations. The church relates back to the Normans when the church was first rebuilt from wood to stone. Part of the rebuild can still be seen inside with gargoyles around the archway. Although the church’s acoustics were stunning this gig was disappointing. I felt as the music wasn’t challenging and seemed all too loving of god for my atheist liking. The inclusion of a string quartet and gospel choir gave a beauty of hanging notes and drive in the sound but I found J Spaceman to be mediocre in his execution of song. The hour and a half set passed slowly as neither pace nor rhythm changed. The applause at the end gave the impression that Spiritualized and Spaceman 3 fans were aptly pleased with the gig. Still I could’ve done with hearing more Grrr... amongst the religious loveliness.

I do eagerly await next year’s events. NOW festival shines in the roots of Nottingham as a class collection of arts in unexpected places.

Now Festival website




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