Review by Steve Dean
Photo by Simon Bamford
Although Audio Mill were not my primary reason for being at this particular auction sale, they added very much to the enjoyment of the event. Specialising in ambient electronica, utilising state-of-the-art computerised keyboards alongside acoustic and bass guitars, they provided an atmosphere most worthy of the occasion.
An old friend, keysman Kieran Williams (aka ‘Sheep’ or 'Sheepstarr') has worked extensively with exhibitor Rob Pointon, providing well-corresponding musical scores for the artist’s animated feature films. He and singer/songwriter Gaz Abbott, another old pal, have collaborated to form Audio Mill in what is a relatively new venture, and from what I heard here this afternoon, I shouldn’t think it will be long before they make a real mark in that particular genre at the very least.
Electronic synthesized music has come a long way since Walter Carlos (now Wendy) gave its then distrusted frequencies musical credibility with ‘Switched-on Bach’ in the latter part of of the 60s. The likes of Kraftwerk and Gary Neuman first cracked the popular market back in the 1970s and gave the new medium a much wider social acceptance. This acceptance growing with each successive generation until the genre finally reached the quasi-ubiquity it enjoys today. Indeed, Audio Mill’s performance at the auction played very much the role normally associated with a lone pianist or a small jazz outfit at such functions.
The pair assured me that this is by no means the full extent of their repertoire though, intending to play rather more up-tempo and dance-inducing works once they are out and gigging proper. If it is anything like as good as the ambient, laid back, but very melodic material they played here today, they’ll certainly be gigs worth checking out. Interesting stuff.
As was Rob Pointon’s artwork; a collection of forty portraits in oils, most of them painted over a 48 hour period, hung all around and ready for to be auctioned off that afternoon. Featuring such worthies as Nick Hancock, Gordon Banks, Bill Bratt and elected mayor Mark Meredith, the paintings fetched over £3000; making a satisfactorily fine result after all of this driven young artist’s hard endeavour. Hosted by Radio Stoke’s Den Siegertsz, the afternoon was a great overall success, adding much in the way of kudos to all creativity on display, both visual and aural.