I was here by chance, having already arranged to meet a friend at the 13th Note for a drink. But it looked too interesting to miss. Thingalism was the name of the event, and Ensemble Thing the name of the outfit – for the most part a double quartet of keyboards, electric bass, large hand drums and saxophone. The music was Philip Glass type minimalism, often involving an almost call-and-response action between the two quartets who lined up either side of the stage and were seperately amplified. A couple of the five pieces they played substituted one of the bass guitars with a cello and one of those also drums for trombone.
It was interesting stuff. I admit to being pretty ignorant when it comes to this kind of music, so I was relying solely on my ears rather than any prior knowledge. They played pieces by Louis Andriessen, Glass, Joel Harding, Frederick Rzewski and David Shire – none of whom, Glass aside, I knew anything about. Most of it had that familiar pulsing, stabbing rhythm, but it wasn’t particularly atonal, although there wasn’t a great deal of warmth to it – the Glass piece again being the exception.
Ensemble Thing are described as a “band of escaped music-college students and teachers”, and there was a rough quality to the performance that perhaps betrayed a lack of rehearsal. Indeed, one of the members joked after the very long “New Piece” by Joel Harding that they should play it again until they get it right. I enjoyed it though, and at three quid in, it was good value. I’ll certainly be looking out for more Thingalism events, if this is an ongoing project.