Blueblut/Pamelia Stickney & Seb Rochford fire up the Theremin at The Vortex

Tony Benjamin
Thursday, May 16, 2024

Sounds from Vienna’s musical underground thrill at Dalston’s jazz mecca

Blueblut at the Vortex - Photo by Tony Benjamn
Blueblut at the Vortex - Photo by Tony Benjamn

It’s been some years since ex-pat US drummer Mark Holub decamped from the UK to Vienna’s musical underground. Originally a one-off collaboration, the Blueblut trio of Holub with guitarist/inventor Chris Janka and Pamelia Stickney’s Theremin is now in its 10th year, with Lutebulb, their fifth and latest album.

 On tour here in the UK, Stickney took the opportunity to renew her improvising duo with drummer Seb Rochford. Their entertaining support set ranged from sinister Gothic soundscapes to gleeful ‘Broken Down Disco Machine’ – a corrupted blend of broken beats, neurotic bass lines and drum overloads.

The set laid out Stickney’s astonishing palette of Theremin tones combined with deft pedal work which are at the heart of the Blueblut sound – especially notable being her impeccably precise walking bass often synced to Janka’s adroit guitar and effects. The two interwove through the set, sometimes tight as any rock band, at others in a wonky counterpoint while Holub’s restless drumming picked and pushed through the threads of their tunes. There was a tidal quality to the cartoonish ‘Arrobark’, its cosmic drift melting down into hard riff and back again punctuated by random gunshots, dog barks and church bells. ‘Aumba’ built layers of furious guitar over stolid Theremin bass and drums towards an absurdly lyrical conclusion.

Of course they closed with ‘Kaktusgetrank’, their 5/4-time surf guitar mash-up of ‘Tequila’ that slumped to an absurdly slow tempo before roaring up to a double speed disintegration. It was a piece of entertainingly clever foolishness that perfectly captured Blueblut’s ethos of having jazzy fun with familiar rock tropes in their own highly original ways.


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