Origamibiro – Nottingham Contemporary, Friday 22 March
Originally published in the Nottingham Post
There’s more to an Origamibiro performance than mere music. As the Nottingham-based trio told us, their shows are also designed to lay bare the processes behind their work, giving us a glimpse of how it’s all done. “We bring our studio with us everywhere we go – and we don’t travel light”, Jim Boxall explained, gesturing to the sizeable array of kit around him.
While Tom Hill and Andy Tytherleigh concentrated on the musical elements – a pair of ukuleles, a double bass, an electric guitar that was alternately picked and bowed – Boxall, who prefers to be known as The Joy of Box, took care of the equally important visual elements. With a miniature camcorder in one hand, he manipulated a variety of objects with the other, looping the sounds which they made, and beaming his actions onto the backstage wall.
These looped and layered noises – crinkled camera film, scrunched and torn paper, the hammering of an antique typewriter – gave the band its percussion section. The two musicians used the same techniques, conjuring crackling and shimmering soundscapes from their instruments.
The music’s dreamlike qualities were boosted by video footage that juddered and flickered, never quite settling into full clarity. Sepia-tinted civic dignitaries beamed at us, all dressed up for a long-forgotten function. A waving child emerged in front of smouldering undergrowth. Letters were typed onto blotchy paper, and magnified to the point of abstraction.
“Experimental” is an overused term, but in this case it was justified. Much of the music was being performed for the first time, ahead of recording sessions for the next album, and you could sense the performers feeling their way through uncharted terrain, responding to each other’s ideas as they emerged.
“We wanted to make it as live as possible, which means it’s fallible and risky” said Boxall towards the end of the show. “Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t – but that’s part of the joy, isn’t it?” It certainly was – for to our ears, this experiment was an unqualified success.