A creation of Wire and The Quietus contributor Joseph Stannard, The Outer Church has been booking the weird and weirder to play his (ir)regular Brighton sessions in a variety of locations since 2009, before reaching its semi-regular home, The Green Door Store. Dealing with what Joseph loosely terms as ‘rural psychedelia’, this can encompass folk music, electronica and drone, as well as poetry (the ever interesting and remarkably perceptive Gareth Rees starts this evening with a fantastic turn, especially his iPhone assisted, sea based, final poem) and film, often all in the same edition. It’s a night that rewards repeat visits, and recent success stories Grumbling Fur and Demdike Stare are testament to the variety and quality on offer.
Clearly Lutine should follow the path of the above named outfits to bigger things. They are remarkable in their single-minded, sophisticated and anachronistic approach to minimal folk. Ignore the synthesiser and projections and you’d think that they’d gracefully emerged, fully formed, from entertaining a medieval banquet with their expertly constructed laments. Key to their sound are the beautiful, telepathic harmonies between Emma’s delightful soprano and Heather’s slightly more versatile backing, lending immense weight to a series of murder ballads. The music provides the slightest of paths for them to cast their mysterious magic spells, but makes full use of the sounds available to them; Heather’s keys providing the structural grounding for Emma’s multi-instrumentation which included autoharp. If songs of the strength of ‘So It Goes’ and ‘Sallow Tree’ are anything to go by, their debut album, released later this month, will garner significant attention. You have a chance to see them for free in Falmer at their album launch show. Don’t waste it.
Kemper Norton is a regular feature of The Outer Church’s entertainment and it is clear his ‘coastal slurtronic folk’ and self-deprecating nature go down wonderfully with the audience. Clearly aware that he’s not a natural performer, Kemper gets the crowd on board with a shuffle through his handwritten lyrics and a demeanour that brings to mind your favourite teacher. Dealing normally with things rural and pastoral, a cover of ‘Let’s Pretend That We’re Married’, by Prince was something of surprise; Kemper admitting that he had “systematically removed the joy and funk from the song”. It didn’t leave much. The track ‘Helston Music Fayre 1994’ was much more like it, with its pulsing beat, distant tribal drums and disembodied voices sounding like the soundtrack to the sunrise at a village fete hijacked by The Ministry of Sound.
It was mightily unfortunate that the evening’s headliners The Lowland Hundred had their set cut short by The Green Door Store’s strictly enforced 10.30pm curfew (or the late running of the night depending on the side of the fence you’re on) as it left just time for one song. Granted, that song was a 20 minute epic starting in relaxed, spacious, found-sound territory; a gorgeous soundscape within which Paul Newland’s exceptional Robert Wyatt like voice excelled. Like a violent storm the song went from serene to tempestuous with the guitar often acting the part of the waves, until a frenzied feedback drenched conclusion where multi-instrumentalist Tim Noble joined the six string maelstrom. It would have been mightily interesting to see where it would have gone from there.