This gig was only confirmed a few weeks ago and perhaps did not get the publicity it could have, so it was a bit of a shame that only a hundred or so were in attendance for the remarkable A Hawk and a Hacksaw. I saw them perform about a year ago in the same venue, playing an astonishing live score to the projection of Sergei Parajanov’s 1964 film “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” which was a stunning combination. After that performance I really wanted to hear them play again.
First on tonight however was the enigmatic duo of Frisk Frugt, fresh from Denmark only a few hours earlier. The stage in preparation looked fascinating, a skeletal drum kit surrounded by bells and other musical paraphernalia, and near the mic stand a truly extraordinary contraption. What appeared to be a dozen or so colourful recorders lined up and attached to a wooden box, into which air was to be pumped and the recorders sound synthesised!
Their overall sound was quite hypnotic, and for the most part unlike anything else I have heard. During one song they briefly sounded a bit like The Doors in one of their more experimental moments, but that was the only time in the set I could think of anyone I could compare them to. I enjoyed their set but am at a bit of a loss as to how best to describe them, perhaps it would be best to check out their site at Bandcamp. https://soundcloud.com/frisk-frugt and have a listen.
The audience really took to them too, and I think the band were equally having fun and happy to play on.
It was soon 9.30pm though, and time for A Hawk and a Hacksaw to take to the stage. Again I think they had only just arrived in Britain, and this was to be a more conventional gig than last time, but still with an array of instruments. Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I believe they lived for a time in Hungary, and the music of this country and Eastern Central Europe generally is the main influence on their sound. As well as their own compositions they performed traditional pieces from Hungary, Romania and Ukraine. Violinist Heather Trost is exceptionally talented, and totally on the same wavelength as accordionist and multi-intrumentalist Jeremy Barnes. Most of their songs are instrumentals, varying in pace, from haunting numbers like Laszlo Lassau and Cervantine, to the more upbeat and celebratory gypsy-styled numbers. Most of the songs tonight were from the new album, You Have Already Gone to the Other World, a title which rather sums up a theme and mood from some of their numbers, most notably the beautiful video for Laszlo Lassu.
All too quickly the set was over, and perhaps the audience were mesmerised, and too suddenly shaken from the spell to make enough noise to get the encore which should have happened, but I think there was just not quite enough of us to experience this lovely music, which was the only shame about the evening. All the comments I heard around me were extremely complimentary.
Words and photos by shashamane