WHALE WATCHING TOUR. Concert Hall, Reading. 25.04.2010

This is special. Seriously special. Not like a ‘great night out’ or ‘what a brilliant gig’ kind of special, more than that. Not bigger maybe, but better, definitely better. And that’s thanks to the members of the Bedroom Community, an international but decidedly down-to-earth recording collective that have somehow found their way to Reading, and the mystical magical sounds they’ve brought with them. Stressing the plurals is important too as the music really does belong to everyone tonight. From distant, chilling introduction to almost orchestral finish there are no distinct sets, no solid breaks between acts, just one rolling, weaving, stirring showcase of quality.

So Valgeir Sigurðsson’s desperately delicate combination of frozen-over electronics and early-sun acoustics meets Sam Amidon’s cracked and ragged but oh so perfect voice. Amidon’s weary words and banjo blur into Ben Frost’s almost-alien art-noise. And somehow that sits perfectly next to Nico Mulhy’s contemporary classical compositions. But really everybody works on everything all the time. And a supporting cast armed with trombone, violins, violas, double bass, handclaps, and crinkled plastic aren’t crowded out either, instead adding all-at-once intriguing, interesting, exciting, and vital varied elements to the mix.

They thread together ambient atmospheres, animal sounds, searing strings, booming bass that you feel in the depth of your chest and the juice of your bones, acoustic folk songs, murder ballads, and soundtracks to movies that haven’t been made (and indeed movies that have) and two hours after the collective first stirred to life (although it feels like just 15 minutes have passed) they finish up a show that should stay with everyone in attendance for quite some time. Seriously special.

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