‘The Post-Apocalyptic Romance’ could be a slightly wordy name for a knowing rock band back in the day. It is in fact the name of Daniel Hartlaub’s art n’ music show held at Electro Studios Project Space. Over the weekend Daniel, originally from Frankfurt, showcased his drawn digital art at this happening art space in the hipper end of St Leonards.
On Saturday night a selection of Hastings and St Leonards’ finest musical minds and players came together to both celebrate Daniel’s exhibition and to interact with it. Hartlaub had drawn an incredible series of images reflecting both the inner and outer recesses of his mind. Their exterioreality, I had assumed, largely came from the specifics of the artist’s lived experience in Germany. In fact his work takes you on an alterior journey that summons up several European capitals from a different, colder, wartime where power politics and different lived realities intersected.
Daniel’s work took on a faster and more immediate meaning on Saturday night when it was projected on to two industrial-looking rusty metal doors in the main Electro Studios’ exhibition/workspace. International musician and avant composer Anthony Moore fed improvised treatments into his synth and then modulated the results, Keith Rodway’s electric bass tones punctuated proceedings, and Amanda Thompson’s keyboards and an electric violinist added further range to the ethereal sound n’ vision show. We were being driven at a furious pace through urban brutalism and romantic paranoia while Daniel’s signature image - a glass-eyed Kafkaesque figure - periodically emerged from the shadows. A swastika fleetingly appeared. Other arresting images arrived, and then departed just as quickly.
This was a wonderful ending to an evening show that had actually begun with dance-meisters Simon and The Pope. I must confess that a different cultural event had prevented me from seeing this poptastic duo, and in fact most of Necessary Animals’ set. I can vouch for their shared entertainment value though from having attended some of their previous gigs. Necessary Animals feature yer man Keith, and art pop heavyweight Amanda Thompson from The Big Believe. I’m told that the Necessaries kicked off with the single they recently recorded for Hartlaub’s film of his graphic novel. I arrived to hear a slice of what i think was a track from their third ‘official’ album of original material, ‘Animalia’. This record is a regular feature in my MP3 headspace. It’s one that successfully utilises N. Animals’ celebrated art schtick while Amanda’s song sensibility prevents too much avant excess. I’d missed spoken poet Lucy Brennan Shiel guesting with her take on WB Yeats’ biggest hit. I did though catch another cut from the ‘Animalia’, the hit single ‘Driving Out of Town’ on which Amanda’s vocal craft and the band’s edgy urgency unite in a potent statement of post-Covid alienation and the spirit of what Tom Rush powerfully celebrates as “the urge for going.”
There then followed ‘17:17’, when for that time period Anthony Moore and an electric violinist held the audience in rapt attention for a transcendent, largely improvisational, drone-like trip in which Daniel’s hung images and the semi-darkness of the studio space combined to enhance sounds reminiscent of Bowie and Eno’s Neukolln’, Vangellis, and, in my warped mind, the violin solo from the Moore-produced album ‘Angel Station’, in a slow-burn wig-out. What is that cool electric fiddle player’s name? I definitely want to book him for the memoir readings I’m now planning to do at The Electro.
Hats off, and there were a lot of them on the men on the night, to Daniel Hartlaub and his musical collaborators. Let’s hope that The Electro puts on a lot more of these mixed media shows in Bulverhythe bohemia.