PRINT December 2002

Music: Best of 2002

Clive Bell


1. Stereolab (Royal Festival Hall, London, Feb. 1) Live, the drums are much punchier and more humorous, and Laetitia Sadier’s trombone has the same chilled dignity as her singing.

2. Mark Ribot (Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, Feb. 3) Utterly solo on a cussed-looking old guitar. The antithesis of ambling through his licks, Ribot always chooses the difficult and highly personal route.

3. Akio Suzuki (SOAS, London, Feb. 27) Sea-sculpted stone flutes and long coils of wire. Suzuki walks a Shinto tightrope between the simple and the uncanny.

4. Cornelius (Royal Festival Hall, London, May 6) Audience and band sucked into a vortex of world-beating video on the big screen.

5. Jocelyn Pook (ICA, London, May 17) Playful, intimate storytelling and choreography from an all-female string quartet.

6. Eleni Kallimopoulou/Pocket (Blue Camel at Arcola Theatre, London, May 19) Exquisite Greek kemancha fiddle opposite Pocket’s joyous, tumbling guitar instrumentals.

7. London Musicians Collective Festival (Purcell Room, London, June 2) Excellent evening of largely acoustic improvisation. John Butcher, Xavier Charles, and Axel Dorner place astringent wind chords into silence. Sylvia Hallett and Anna Homler (saw, accordion, toys) give whimsy a good name.

8. Jordi Savall (St. John’s Smith Square, London, June 20) Viola da gamba maestro unleashes Baroque passion, twirling the gamba like a waxed mustache.

9. Mick Beck (12 Bar Club, London, Aug. 25) Is it possible to excite with nothing but a clanky bassoon? Beck improvises a resounding yes.

10. Michael Hurley (12 Bar Club, London, Sept. 19) Irresistible slow grooves on a red electric guitar; songs about weed, money, life—you know.

Clive Bell, a frequent contributor to The Wire magazine, is a musician and composer specializing in Far Eastern musics. Featured on recent albums by Jeff Beck and Bill Laswell, he is currently working on a 2003 performance with Theatre de Complicite.