Colin Newman and Malka Spigel are no strangers to musical experimentation. As the frontman of Wire and bass player of Tel Aviv’s Minimal Compact respectively they were at the cutting edge of art rock and scratchy post punk. It perhaps comes as more of a surprise that they have been making interesting electronica, under the name Immersion, since as far back as 1995 when they released their debut album ‘Oscillating’.
Tonight they are launching a new phase of their Nanocluster project. This sees them producing a new set of songs with a collaborative artist before performing a show where both artists perform separately and then together. Previous participants include Tarwater and Laetitia Sadier. Tonight is the turn of Cubzoa; aka Jack Wolter of Penelope Isles fame.
Immersion start so quietly that people almost don’t notice, but the pulsating ambient sounds emanating from the Korg synths and the warm glow of the film projections are soon overtaken by a more dancey bass rhythm and simulated trumpet stabs.
There is no set-list: samples, patterns and fragments are pulled from the memory banks of the assembled machines to build a set very reminiscent of a Megadog rave in the mid 1990s. They finish with an electro punk banger – Malka looking cool as a cucumber on the bass – that brings you squarely back to the fact Colin is the man who gave the world ‘Three Girl Rhumba’ and ‘I Am The Fly’.
Cubzoa quickly leaps to the stage to the sound of piglets eating their dinner and delivers on his seeming intent to become Brighton’s answer to Neil Young. His music is slightly more introverted than Penelope Isles but it is no less beautiful. The melodies catch you and draw you in as they float around the samples and backing tracks.
‘Trope’ starts like 90s trip hop and builds into a stunning piece of dream pop. But it is the last song that truly reveals Jack’s genius. He picks up an acoustic guitar and does away with the samples, which at points in the set had sat slightly too loud over the top of his playing. ‘Unfold In The Sky’ truly does. It is simply a great song played beautifully and SOURCE is left expecting big things from the debut album Jack is working on for Bella Union.
All three artists return to the stage wearing Nanocluster T-shirts. ‘Neptune’ seems to get off to a false start but is quickly rescued by a dreamy funk shuffle that grows into a monster. It seems a shame that it might be the only time this song is performed live.
On ‘It’s Not About Me’ Jack almost pointedly disagrees with the title and allows himself to let rip with all his glorious guitar-playing prowess. The night then draws to a close with Malka on vocals singing ‘Other Ways’; a hymn to a better world, which is a fitting way to close a night of collaboration.
The Rose Hill, Thursday 21st September 2023
Lead photo by Toby Mason