A post-Primavera jam at Magia Roja – 1st June ’15

Hans-Joachim Roedelius (analogue synthesizer)
Christopher Chaplin (iPhone)
Francesc Diaz Melis (analogue synthesizer, sequencer)
Florenci Salesas (melodica, xylophone, analogue synthesizer)
Nuno Rebelo (guitar)
Eli Gras (amplified objects, guitar)
El Pricto (alto saxophone, plus a touch of synth)
Luiz Rocha (bass clarinet)
Antoni Robert Gadea (guitar)

Is there a difference between a jam and an improvisation? Is one a sub-category of the other. And if so, which?

Whatever the answers, for me a “jam” implies something a little more relaxed, less intentional, more of a ‘let’s-see-what-happens-if-I-do-this’ attitude on the part of the musicians. Similarly, it’s possible the audience are also more relaxed – no expectations other than sound will be produced; definitely no preconceptions regarding style or genre… Maybe.

This particular jam, at the occult-ish Magia Roja headquarters in the heart of Gràcia, was a semi-private affair. At the time, I didn’t know or recognise everybody but the ‘guests of honour’ were undoubtedly Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Christopher Chaplin (on iPhone ringtones, no less), fresh from a performance of the delicate and evocative King of Hearts at Primavera Sound a few days earlier. Antoni Robert Gadea was both organiser and guitarist, Nuno Rebelo was also on 6-string, and Luiz Rocha and El Pricto were there, both on reeds (although El P did experiment with H-JR’s keyboard during the 2nd set). The others I hadn’t previously had the pleasure, but thanks to Antoni for the names.

And?

It was fun to listen to, and I suspect even more fun to create. Over the course of three ‘sets’ with rotating personnel, we were immersed in waves of sound, throbbing synth textures, jagged distorted guitars, momentary melodica melodies, a little wailing woodwind…The first jam was a case of throwing every conceivable sound into the mix and seeing what happened. Dense and meditative and slow. The second piece was probably the most coherent with a steady rhythmic pulse that anchored everybody; conceivably there could have been a song lurking at the heart of this one. The third get-together was a shorter, freeform and abstract afterglow.

And overlaying everything, a sense of fun and an absence of seriousness that allowed a few quirky/goofy moments: I mentioned the ringtones, then there was the chorus of amplified beer can ring pulls, and the sampled/delayed intoning vocals (Brian Eno’s, apparently).

Sometimes, informality is best – relaxed, loose, open to anything, no pressure of performance and yet, the result was a set of extended sound pictures, ever-evolving, a kaleidoscope of shapes, textures, patterns and arresting noise.

Thanks for the invitation, Antoni; it was a great way to spend a Monday evening.