Seriously though: if you heard and loved any of this year's electric Proms (Nitin Sawhney with the London Undersound Orchestra, for example), you would have adored this. Opening in the semi-darkness, a seated Marshall cast long, soulful notes into the room in sequence, using one hand on an effects box to sculpt them into a subtly echoing soundscape evocative of wide, monumental Scandiwegian vistas, with the occasional Arabic/Spanish lilt thrown in. Ending this first piece with a terrible feedback noise that he grabbed and twisted into a pulsing, scraping sound that finally petered into nothingness, Marshall asked 'Did you like that?' Confirmatory applause preceded a confession that the ending had been an accident caused by technical problems. The audience was delighted. Marshall then took to the floor to perform the rest of his set unamplified and unlooped, providing us with a fantastic, playful demonstration of his incredible musical skill. If you've never heard a tuba sound like a farting, vomiting, rutting elephant in a plughole, or do a call-and-reponse with a squeaky floorboard, or use a wall or an audience member's lap for a mute, or be sung into and harmonised with like a didge, or swung irreverently around on the floor for effect - well - you'll be there next time, won't you?
After the break, Murcof and some of Barcelona-based classical group BCN 216 (a viola player, cellist and trombonist) take the stage, along with Flicker, the visual sculptor. As things got going, my audio-visual engineer companion (without whom I wouldn't have had a clue) informed me of the various simultaneous processes going into the performance. The musicians play notes; Murcof samples them and manipulates them, playing them back out at us alongside the live musicians' sound, also adding in his own pre-made/collected noises. The musicians have a score to read; they also have monitors displaying Murcof's 'arrange window', so they can see what he's up to (apart from looking very bored at his laptop at the back of the stage). Meanwhile, Flicker has various things rigged up to speakers and cameras, and we see them projected onto a huge white circle (suspended halo-like behind the artists, above the room's giant pipe organ). A flat surface of water oscillates under a bright light; we see criss-crossing psychedelic ripples echoing the shape of the sound in our ears. A plant rotates on a turntable in a light box; we see interlocking aliens - no, a kaleidoscope - no, leaves! They're leaves! And is that rain, a galaxy, or underwater detritus? No! It's powder falling into bright light from a powderpuff connected to a subwoofer. Woaaah.
Murcof takes us on a journey through electronica and classical fusion, chucking in a few moments of good, head-nodding dubstep for good measure every so often to make your feet itch. Eyeball-wobbling bass, the eerie whines and scratches of a B-movie Sci-Fi soundtrack and the occasional warped Tetris noise combine to make Murcof's piece a somewhat dark and ominous one; but then, that's his sound, and it is worth listening to. Thank you, Contemporary Music Network, for bringing the Tijuana genius on a UK tour (he's on Fri 21st in Norwich if you're free) - and thank you OCM for once again putting world class, cutting-edge new music on our doorstep.