Tag Archives: Sylent Running


Mike Nock on piano and Niko Schauble on drums at Memorial Hall

What you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts, so if I found Sylent Running a tad soporific, I was engrossed from the moment of arrival at this gig. Simplicity in the line-up was reflected in the music they created with such apparent (and probably real) ease. Schauble is my favourite drummer, so I was anticipating a treat. Couldn’t help contrasting his playing style with that of Ari Hoenig — the latter being much more the showman and Schauble most of the time seeming to be utterly lost in the music, unaware of anything or anyone else. But of course he was well aware of Nock — the communication was tangible, though it was achieved through no visible means.

This was music to fill the soul and totally occupy the attention, so that you wanted to be nowhere else but there, in the moment. I found myself smiling, though there was no patter and no gimmickry. Variations evolved without hurry, with textures and timbres valued by each player. I heard Art Blakey’s words (as recalled by Charles Tolliver) in my head: This was music to wash away the dust from our everyday lives. As the set evolved, there were periods of swing, of substantial force, of great involvement (of audience and the players). And at times Schauble was so delicate it would break your heart. Is that what makes drummers great … the ability to release sudden force, yet at times to be so restrained?

I have not said much about Mike Nock’s playing, but it was superb. Leaving this gig felt like returning to Earth after a trip to some space beyond. A space of immense satisfaction.


Barney McAll on keyboards, Gian Slater vocals, Chris Hale on electric bass, Ben Vanderwal on drums, Dan West on laptop, toys, electronics, Nir Felder (New York) on guitar

This was quite different from what I’d expected from the notes promising experiments in relationships “between silence and non-silence, beauty and its opposites … pristine acoustics and botched, ‘confused robot’ electronics”. Barney explained the set would explore a future scenario in which Gian was the last person on earth. They began with a piece that may have been titled “Okaline” or similar, then one Barney said was “for my son … he smiles a lot right now”.

Holy Trinity cathedral was packed for this, though many seemed not to stay that long. You have to be in the right state of mind, in the moment, and I was probably already ahead of myself, working out when to leave to catch Mike Nock and Niko Schauble, so I did not do this justice. There seemed to be a lot of surreal beauty, but not much of its opposites while I was there. It was too ambient for me, despite the hypnotic feel and the enticement of Slater’s voice.

This is a fairly inadequate snapshot of what I’m sure ought to have been considered as a whole concept piece. I had the chance to hear Sylent Running again in the Alpine MDF Theatre, but it clashed with the gig by Barney’s brother, John McAll and I went to that. I was not disappointed.