(Jan 30th 2016)
I recently discovered this grainy photo in our archive. It is one of only a few photos I know of that actually shows me playing live in 1976. For a number of reasons it is quite historically significant… well to me at least.
It is from a roll of 35mm Kodak slide film that was shot specifically to document my last performance of a live solo piece titled ‘Waveforms’, that I’d been performing around the UK for a couple of years. The show ran for one hour and was very chilled in tempo and mostly ambient and full of drones and sequences. It even had a trippy light show. This final ‘Waveforms’ was played at the Froebel Institute in London on the 3rd of July 1976. Yes there was a recording of it but I do not currently know where that is.
Cosey took all the shots… on her trusty Nikon F, with its beautiful Nikkor 55mm f/1.2 lens. She loved that camera and used to take it with her everywhere then and took hundreds of photos with it. But for my performance we mostly used projected light on stage and even for such a good camera/lens combo it was hard work getting decent images.
Although it is not very clear in the photo, I am actually standing in front of a large black modular synthesiser. This was my first self-built synth and it was loosely based on the EMS VCS3 - which I’d briefly owned (then didn’t) the year before. My synth was larger than the VCS3 and had more oscillators, more filters and so on, it even had a (for then) cutting-edge pin matrix programming board. It also had a joystick and a built-in four octave keyboard. As far as I was concerned it was the bees knees, no less than because I’d designed and built it all myself. Idiosyncratic it was but stable it was not… (here is a closer photo of the synth taken at Industrial Records studio a few years later)
There is also a bunch of other stuff on my desks, which you cannot see, including a two track reel-to-reel deck (containing various sound effects: “wind, sea, storms” etc.), a WEM Copycat tape echo unit, a couple of effects pedals, a ribbon controller and a self-built 16-step sequencer.
Also out of shot is the large quad PA system I was playing through. The quad PA was custom built by my friends Chris Cobb (a BBC sound engineer) and artist/musician John Lacey (son of Bruce Lacey) and was on loan from Throbbing Gristle.
The light-show and lighting effects for that live performance were being controlled by John Lacey and consisted of multiple Kodak Carousel slide projectors, three ’Liquid Light’ projectors and a couple of ‘multicoloured light columns’ at either side of the stage.
As an aside… in the early 1970s I used to run the ‘light-show’ as a separate endeavour, regularly getting gigs “to do lights” for major (and minor) bands and on the BBC ‘Colour Me Pop’ TV show. We were based in a ‘disco lighting’ store in Denmark Street, London, directly across the road from Hipgnosis studio, where Sleazy worked.
Behind me, also out of shot, are some very large mirrored panels (mirror-flex) which were angled toward the audience so they could see my performance and what I was doing behind the pile of gear on my desks. Later these panels were also used in some early TG live performances.
This final solo performance of my ’Waveforms’ show took place just three days prior to the first ever Throbbing Gristle live performance at the Air Gallery in London.
I used all the gear I was using at this show for that first TG performance, including the mirror-flex panels and the TG quad PA - but not the light show.
The rest is history…
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