The mean streets of Clerkenwell formed the backdrop for a visit by electroacoustic act Jasmina Maschina, the Berlin-based artiste swopping one grey metropolis for another (we had sun last week, honest). Slipping on-stage and shedding her shoes, the Australian expat fixed her gaze on her Mac, started strumming her guitar and began the gig as unassumedly as she continued. Bobbing her head gently, she sampled herself, allowing the computer to take large portions of the pieces, adding her soft vocals and delicate guitar patterns to the mix. It was a performance of understated intensity, if that's not a paradox.
Some of the pieces, such as "Ausland" and "City Fever", were taken from the new City Splits #1: Berlin record, featuring two artists from one city (the other half, Golden Disko Ship, visits the UK in June). One song, "Lisa's Opening", is, as yet, unrecorded.
This Maschina was slightly under-powered, as she acknowledged, owing to a bout of food poisoning, but she played very much within herself, barely acknowledging the audience. I was reminded of Kurt Cobain's description of listening to The Raincoats, as if he were hidden in the attic, eavesdropping on them and afraid of being discovered, lest it break the mood. At the end of her seven songs/tone poems, Jasmina Maschina thanked the audience and slipped her shoes back on. And I shuffled out onto the streets of Clerkenwell, feeling I'd borne witness to quite an intimate experience.