Counterflows: Beatrice Dillon & Guests The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland November 2019.

Since 2012, Counterflows has brought experimental and underground music into focus in Glasgow, and this winter it is Edinburgh’s turn to benefit, with three Counterflows events planned. The first of these, last Saturday at former church, The Queen’s Hall, was well attended, no doubt thanks to Counterflows’ reputation, as well as well as to Creative Scotland’s subsidy which kept the entrance price low.

The mostly but not exclusively youthful underground music fans, perhaps facilitated by the mid-set ice-cream, apparently soon dismissed any possible pre-conceptions about the venue, and embraced the place’s great acoustics and the evening’s varied programme.

Opening with a DJ set from locals Tim Fraser and Ailie Ormiston, their low-key and interesting offering was an engaging start to the evening.

Next up was London’s Café OTO stalwart, Oxford-based jazz pianist of distinction, Pat Thomas. His 30-minute set was a thing of beauty, to this listener encapsulating a Cecil Taylor-style creative brilliance with Oscar Peterson pulchritude. Graceful, intelligent and apparently entirely improvised, another hour of this would have been welcomed by many.

A second highlight was Porto and Edinburgh-based drummer Paul Abbot and electronic musician Rian Treanor, whose highly integrated slow-build set entranced. An impressive showing, especially considering this was their first collaboration.

Headliner, London-based artist and musician, Beatrice Dillon, known for her interest in the intersection of bass music, house and experimental music, was reportedly here for her first live set ever in Scotland. The trancey style hit the sweet spot for the rhythmically swaying audience.

This initiative was a great success (indeed, what’s not to like: experimental music; in a church; ice-cream; beer..)  Let’s hope that Counterflows can find the ongoing funding to bring its excellent programmes eastwards on an annual basis.

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