7/14/2015

The Mekano Summer Set

Berlin Graffitti

Following our inspirational expeditions to the mega city of Berlin (imagine a place where you can hear adventurous music in public seven days a week, grab a vegan feast on every street, and a decent beer for less than £1), we've completed a mix and remix for London dirty-electro sleaze merchants Blindness.

Abstand : Berlin : Prost!

Plans for gigs are temporarily on hold as Arthur continues to explore That Europe inside aeroplane machines (intent on bringing back new and exotic sound samples), and Chucky having temporarily departed into the 1920s via the medium of Acting (and possibly a time machine). But come late July, we should be back on track to take the Meks back into the streets and alleys for your aural disturbance.




Our last live outing (Liverpool Kazimier) was such a blast and it was great to really get into exploring certain grooves like 
Fires Made Safe and Heatwave all over again.

In the meantime, we are looking to polish up and publish two or three new songs, one of which (8 Mile High Cloud) was previously only available on the CD version of the
 Pareidolia e.p.





Work continues on Mekhan Rising - the sequel to our audio documentary Behind The Sins - a Mekstory Channel audio doc that explores the legend of The Mekhan: a mythological Springheel Jack-liked trickster figure and features new music from us.

I'm also tidying up a live recording of our performance of Water Flowing Up a Hill at Liverpool's Everyman Theatre in May. And we also have videos for Pages and The Lighter (from the Pareidolia e.p.) - see below
...


"The essence of reality is not fact but question. There are no facts, only truths." The Key, Whitley Strieber.





The Mekano Set : Pages




The Mekano Set : The Lighter (edit)




The Mekano Set



5/16/2015

Water Flowing Up A Hill – The Meks do Light Night 2015

The Mekano Set grinning silly
Hello


Yesterday evening was Light Night, and as previously announced, The Mekano Set played a live soundtrack to a video montage of our own making at the Everyman Theatre.

Rehearsals had been a bit of a mixed bag... we managed to record some footage early on, and Milk wrote lyrics that centred around the Liverpool  / maritime / docklands theme that had some political undertones (and bits that were downright obvious). Then came the question of the actual music.

Despite problems with our various technologies, ranging from “oh, the laptop turned itself off in mid-recording again ha ha ha” to “I'm playing a G on the keyboard but that clearly isn't the note that's coming out of the speakers” and everything in between, we finally settled on three sections to accompany the video (which Milk had now painstakingly sellotaped together in spite of the unruly machines): a minimalistic intro; slow-paced title track “Water Flowing Up a Hill” (which cheekily repeats the Everyman's “Play on” slogan many, many times); and “Cruiser Rules” – this one had a little bit more of a groove and thus allowed Arthur to make the best of his new oil-drum drums and gave him a chance to really shine (which he did!).

silhouette milk and large projection of clouds
Milk and Water, Flowing up a Hill


Aside from technical glitches, there were also discussions about how much (if any) silence should be involved in the soundtrack, how many drums would be needed, the balance between planning and leaving space to improvise, and what our impish patron demon, the Mhechan, would make of all this, what with his name not being mentioned once in the whole performance.


The typewriter is an essential part of the percussive selection.
Dramatic clouds: still from Water Flowing up a Hill

We're wearing the same shirt... well, this is going to be awkward.


So imagine how pleased we were when it did all come together in the end, sounded good to our ears (and to at least some of the audience who kindly told us so afterwards), looked great projected onto that big screen which took up one whole end of the room, and felt as if it actually flowed, with quite a few of the lyrics matching up with the footage in places we hadn't even planned!





Although we didn't get to sample the numerous other delights that were happening throughout the city for Light Night, the newly redesigned and reconstructed Everyman Theatre was a great place to be. We had a quick snoop around into the Auditorium which had been transformed into a dark ocean of calm, and an even quicker peek into the room where the evening’s debates were happening.

The whole building was buzzing with people, so thankfully we also got a fair share of passers-by, looking in on us, sitting down, staying for a few minutes or the whole performance.



Big thank yous go to the Everyman Theatre and its staff, Victoria Junashko and Jo Stapleton who supplied us with superb additional visuals, Alan for snapping some super cool silhouettes of us (and sticking around for all three sets), Cath and Andy at The Gregson Institute, Thomas Lang and everyone else who came to listen and show their support.

We're a happy bunch.

Also:

5/07/2015

Water Flowing Up a Hill by The Mekano Set: Liverpool Light Night 2015 Everyman Theatre Hope Street

Sky photograph by BeatnikSoup


We have been asked to contribute something to this year's Liverpool Light Night. We're been working on a new 30 minute video + live soundtrack based around the theme of Liverpool / Merseyside life. It's been great to work on something that has inevitably become quite politically charged and (hopefully) sonically and visually adventurous.

We were originally asked to produce something around the story of the RMS Lusitania but the work quickly blossomed into something wider reaching.



It feels really good to be working on something that has organically come to be about some quite specific things (the history of Liverpool as a place rich in industrial / creative / anarchic energies - which is quite in-keeping with the "forward-thinking, renegade, democratic, naughty kind of spirit of the Everyman" as Everyman Theatre's Gemma Bodinetz puts it.



So we've been researching, physically exploring and sampling the landscape of the Merseyside dunes, docks, backstreets and secret spaces.  And we've come up with something that sounds like us, but it's not a set of pop songs (even by our standards). The opaqueness is still there, but beneath the surface you can hopefully glimpse some sharp details...

Water Flowing Up a Hill will be performed three times at Everyman Theatre (upstairs in Ev 2, next to the Theatre Bar) as part of Liverpool Light Night, Friday 15th May 2015.

Performance / Projection times will be at 7 pm, 8 pm and 9 pm. 
Everyman Theatre, 5-11 Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9BH

A short talking-heads piece created by Kim Ryan from Picture Palace and voiced by Alex Cox will also accompany our performance. 

There are currently no plans to record or release the material. 



I see water flowing up a hill 1

The blush of dawn
Fire blooming in the ruins

Salt for wounds 2

We never learn
We never forget

The sin of indifference and
The glory of blame

A cool breeze of regrets
The dark warmth of shame

Downtrodden for decades gets you underground, underground

Hidden depths, secrets, walkways tunnels leading down and out, down and out 

They are painting you pictures while you lie bruised and beaten down.
They'll hang portraits of your wounds in great galleries for you.




Sky photograph by BeatnikSoup



Written and produced by The Mekano Set. Visuals by The Mekano Set, Jo Stapleton / BeatnikSoup, Victoria Junashko.

S. Tschackert: voice, keyboards

A. Habsburg: voice, percussion

M. Taylor: voice, baritone guitar


Special thanks to Thomas Lang, Catherine Odita and The Gregson Institute.


We have produced work of this nature in the past (video collage / live soundtracks) and it's always great to have the opportunity to do more.













1. Chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe said reinvigorating Liverpool life / industry would be like "trying to make water flow uphill" http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16361170

2.  "It was like salt was being rubbed into our wounds," http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-22073199

4/28/2015

Esha Shields + The Mekano Set @ The Gregson Hall Liverpool Sunday 3rd May 2015

On Sunday we will be playing live in Liverpool with experimental Dreampop adventurer Esha Shields at the wonderful Gregson Hall. It's worth coming just to see the space alone. Really looking forward to this one. Here we are watching ourselves rehearsing: 

Mekano Set watch themselves rehearse
How do we do that?



Esa makes some seriously unique, adventurous sounds; songs that exist like little worlds. His overall sound makes me think of the atmospheric avant-pop of This Mortal Coil but it's difficult to place his influences and reference points. I think that's a massively positive thing in an age where you can generally recognize a band's (limited, safe, played-out) influences within moments of them playing. 




So it's massively refreshing when you hear someone coming from a refreshing angle: doing something that is both experimental AND really melodic. So many people use 'experimental' as an excuse to hoard a load of over-priced electronic toys (or vintage instruments / effects) in order to make a directionless noise. I think it's way more adventurous (and challenging) to attempt to do something new within the confines of a 3 - 5 minute song, in 4/4 time, with groove and melody AND elements of experimentation.

Mic stand, cables and machete percusison


I've been enjoying getting my live guitar sound going again. I've said before that I take pleasure in the way that our guitar sound tends to offend guitar bands - even Shoegazers. Plus, our guitar setup is seriously basic compared even to your average rock guitarist's - which pisses them off even more hehe (we also use a tiny, tiny 5 watt guitar amp!). All of the droning / hi-pass filter style sounds AND the big guitar riff that comes in later on this (The Lighter) for example, were done with: 

Cheap guitar effects
That's not even a 'real' vintage fuzz box #shockhorror
(Korg ToneWorks AX1500G (my secret weapon)
Danelectro Wasabi Forward-Reverse Delay Pedal
BOSS - FZ-5)


We'll be doing some new songs, tracks from our latest E.P. and a couple of old favourites. We'll also be performing a traditional Imercian lullaby all about the Mhekan and his terrible curse...

Chucky plays cheap keyboard wearing a hat
Channeling the Mhekan

It's actually been a bit of a challenge to re-learn how to play some of the new songs live. But it's definitely worth it. Really enjoying playing Matchmaker at the moment, and exploring Fires Made Safe (one of my all-time favourite songs) with live drone guitar and live drums - no loopage. 


bass drum and melodica and Milk playing a guitar
A bass drum + a Melodica: essential tools for any guitarist surely?