Delia Darlings Tour - Hebden Bridge Trades Club - 17th April 2014
I was gutted to have missed the Delia Derbyshire Day celebration both last year and this year in Manchester due to work commitments so it came as an enormous relief to find out the event was coming to my own little town while I was off shift. I won’t waste your time with a recap about who Delia was or why she was one of the most important artist in the history of electronic music (if you don’t know, google it) and just get straight down to telling you what happened.
It was a comfortable, sedate affair with tabled seating for those of us who arrived in good time (very handy as I was aching from the previous nights Carlton Melton/Cosmic Dead double-header I put on at the very same venue). The night began with a screening of Kara Blake’s award-winning documentary "The Delian Mode". While only 25 minutes long, it manages to pack so much in with interviews with the people who knew her, tributes from musicians of today and excerpts from some of her finest moments. I had no qualms whatsoever in shelling out ten pounds for a copy of it on DVD afterwards as it, its brevity only increases its power and it needs to be seen by a wider audience.
Then we got the actual Delia Darlings themselves. Three commissioned artists who had been given access to Manchester University’s archive of Delia’s audio tapes. Each artist talked a little bit first about what it was in her archive that had inspired her and then performed their work. First up was Daniel Weaver who had what seemed to be an old record player wired up with contact microphones and treated through a laptop. His strange, evocative piece was closest sonically to the Delian sound, although not something you would ever mistake for her. Like Delia, he was playing with sound and looking for that strange otherworldy undiscovered sound.
The composer Ailís Ní Ríain created a piece for trumpet and double bass which took the rhythmic feel of jazz and locked it into a modern classical structure. It was an interesting approach to take and the two players chosen brought it to perfect life. Finally we had Caro C who mixed up the sound of a bouncing ball (bounced live), strong vocals and techno beats. It was a nice mix of artists, all radically different yet all looking for new ways to explore sound. I am sure Delia would have loved it.
Finally, Delia Derbyshire researcher David Butler came out to introduce "To An Independent Listener" a 45 minute audio-visual collage. David had put together the sounds from the Delia archive of unreleased material and film maker Sarah Hill came up with the abstract visuals. What an astounding treat. I am sure it will all see release in the fullness of time but oh to own a copy of that film. This seemless mix of unreleased Delia sounds showed us all that though she is no longer with us, her music is still going to be making news for years to come.
It was a fantastic night and I am so glad it came to my town.