EST's ten favourite live gigs of 1994 ...

12. Rhys Chatham An Angel Moves Too Fast To See (Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, August) Not so much for the music, which veers from the alien-guitar-harmonies hidden behind a rock rhythm section through to the alien-guitar-harmonies finally left alone, but the church choir phenomenon is interesting. You see, there are 100 electric guitars on stage, all recruited locally for the event, and every single one's flatmates and mother have turned out. It's not often that avant-garde gets an audience outside those already in the know, and it's gratifying to see how appreciative the applause is.

11. Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares (Royal Festival Hall, London, November) Best damn cover version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow that I've ever heard.

10. Asmus Tietchens, Zoviet France, Philip Jeck, Christina Kubisch, Hafler Trio, Klangkrieg, and others Sound / Works Exchange (Goethe Institut, London, April) See last issue for the full lowdown, but boy was it good to see this bunch of ghetto residents out in the open. Highlight remains the Hafler Trio's Andrew McKenzie, who our previous reviewer described as "a psychotic cross between Norman Bates and Alexei Sayle".

9. Bruce Gilbert (Tower Records, London, March) Really, honestly, there's nothing quite the same as being in Tower Records, with a crowd of aghast onlookers standing around slack-jawed, while a man in a garden shed creates an unholy barrage of electronic rhythm'n'noise, is there?

8. Olympic Shit Men / Con-Dom (Bar Sate, London, June) Now, look, I'm hardly your usual gung-ho noise music fan, but stuck in a crowded, dark cellar, barely able to see what's going on, with the volume at a seemingly absurd level, suddenly, it all makes sense.

7. Glenn Branca Ensemble Symphonies 8 & 10 (Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, February) So everything's wrong. So it's not loud enough. So the guy in the seat next to me thinks nothing new has been done with guitars since Jimi Hendrix. So it's hard to tell if the fuzzy noise I can hear is coming from the guitars or from an overloaded sound system. So what? It's enormous, it's chaotic, it's beyond comprehension, and when the riffing kick in, it's all you could want.

6. Spaceheads / Dome (Disobey, London, December) Dome, on this occasion, are shit. Spaceheads rool. Take Put Put's Andy Diagram, his trumpet and a pile of effects pedal, and take some more of that relentless, minimalist drumming, switch on, and watch it take off.

5. The Blue Humans / Put Put (Disobey, London, July) The Blue Humans are much as expected: all-out free jazz twin-drum-one-guitar assault (although they prove to be considerably better two days later in the tiny, cramped Rough Trade Shop). Put Put, however, steal the show with their relentless trance-rock, a rawer, more stripped down version of everything Faust, Can and This Heat ever attempted.

4. Caspar Brötzmann / F M Einheit (Disobey, London, June) Caspar is an Elvis pixie who could provoke amazing sounds from his guitar simply by sneezing on it. F M Einheit is the Fred Flintstone of industrial music, grinding rocks against sheet metal with obvious joy.

3. Tony Conrad (Creative Block, London, May) One of three "New Aura" gigs put on by the London Musicans' Collective, the other two featuring respectively Lee Ranaldo and a trio of Nicolas Collins, Peter Cusack and Matt Wand. Conrad was a member of La Monte Young's Theatre of Eternal Music, but has become best known for both his avant-garde film-making and for a passing collaborative recording with Faust. This is a terrible pity; his own music is absolutely gorgeous. Take one violin and sit it on a mechanical bow to drone away, take another and play sustained, ever-changing drones across the top. Simple, and mesmerisingly beautiful. And if this weren't just a '94 list, the Conrad and Faust performance from February '95, an incredible blend of rhythmic chaos and ordered drones, would be at the top.

2. Otomo Yoshihide, Yamatsuke Eye, and others LMC Festival of Experimental Music (Conway Hall, London, May) Surprisingly disappointing fest makes good with the pairing of two of Japan's best exports: ten-second bursts of hyped and hyper energy; Otomo makes noise with records and post-industrial guitar, Eye spasms and shrieks. A hit, a very palpable hit.

1. Phill Niblock (Conway Hall, London, June) Oh, you can read about Phill in EST #6, I think.

by Brian Duguid

Copyright of the original authors (c) 1995