Ipswich: Mini-music festival takes centre stage at PULSE

Dead Rat Orchestra

Dead Rat Orchestra - Credit: Archant

Music takes centre stage at the New Wolsey Theatre at this year’s PULSE Fringe festival.

John Callaghan

John Callaghan - Credit: Archant

Teaming up with Ipswich-based Antigen Records, a mix of folk, jazz and cabaret musicians will follow the main evening shows with free performances in the theatre bar followed by resident PULSE DJ sets.

Nathaniel Robin Mann

Nathaniel Robin Mann - Credit: Archant

Getting things started tonight are Colchester avant-folk trio Dead Rat Orchestra, who recently returned from a European tour and two sold-out nights playing to more than 2,000 people at London’s HMV Forum with the legendary Godspeed You! Black Emperor in October 2012.

Sealionwoman

Sealionwoman - Credit: Archant

The trio have established a reputation with an unconventional live show, challenging the traditional concert setting for truly memorable performances.

Formed a decade ago, they recently received critical acclaim after the release of their soundtrack to Mike Day’s BBC documentary The Guga Hunters of Ness which was voted sixth best soundtrack by Mojo magazine last year.


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Although their music is not entirely composed or improvised, they specialise in using antique folk instruments as well as anything they can get their hands on, from singing bowls to bird scarers.

Antigen Records has re-released three rare and highly sought-after Dead Rat Orchestra live albums as part of an on-going project to make their back catalogue more widely available to a new audience.

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They are followed tomorrow night by auto-karaoke and performer John Callaghan.

Described as “a renaissance man in a suitcase”, the contemporary cabaret performer brings with him a variety of homemade and recycled costumes for every song in his set. Singing along to self-composed backing tracks, he croons on a variety of subjects related to the human condition.

“Troubled folk” singer Nathaniel Robin Mann plays on Sunday.

Making up one-third of folk trio Dead Rat Orchestra, he’s a singer-songwriter and sound designer who specialises in using an interesting collection of objects including a phonofiddle, harmonium, ukulele and ankle-bells to provide percussive accompaniment to his songs.

He has composed music for the London Contemporary Orchestra and National Ukrainian Orchestra Kievskaya Kamerata. Last September he was one of five international artists commissioned to design an acoustic environment for the BE OPEN Sound Portal in Trafalgar Square as part of the London Design Festival 2012 and has collaborated with many leading international artists including Adam Lowe, Anish Kapoor and Marc Quinn.

London-based jazz duo Sealionwoman perform next Tuesday.

Featuring the voice of Kitty Whitelaw and contrabass and effects from Tye McGivern, the group’s first incarnation was put on hold when Kitty ran off to join a circus in Singapore, but the duo were reunited for a one-off performance in 2011.

Galvanised by the response, they reformed and revamped their sound mixing reinterpreted jazz standards with stripped down versions of their early songs.

Pre-show entertainment comes from Belle Vue House Hop DJ Martyn Peck, who will be spinning some vintage swing tunes on shellac at 78rpm.

“We’re thrilled to be working with the PULSE Fringe Festival this year to bring some truly unique music to Ipswich audiences in a very unusual setting. Being able to draw the likes of the Dead Rat Orchestra to such a wonderful venue as the New Wolsey for example proves there’s plenty for arts audiences to get their teeth into in Ipswich,” says Jason Whittaker of Antigen Records.

“Working with PULSE to bring such a varied festival programme this year is a fantastic way for us to continue our commitment to raise the profile of the town and bring quality concerts and album releases to music fans throughout Suffolk and beyond.”

Other acts performing include Halo Halo on June 3, Rayon Nelson on June 5, The Family Elan on June 6 and Killamonjambo on June 8.

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