Bang on a Can’s Field Recordings, and a disappointing second visit to Amico Bio

Last night I went back to Amico Bio, with R, before another Barbican concert. We were slightly less impressed this time.

R, again, chose a nice red wine (I have no idea which one this time, but they seem to be good ones) and I had a gin and tonic. For starters I went for the focaccia, which we’d enjoyed so much last time, and R had bread with tomatoes and rocket- which is exactly what he got. We had hoped for some balsamic vinegar, or some kind of salad dressing apart from olive oil, but oil is all there was for bread dipping and salad.

For main, I went for the gnocchi in a spinach sauce which was really tasty, not strongly seasoned, but salt and pepper was available on the table. I enjoyed this. R went for the Tempura, which I do think is a strange menu choice for a main but anyway, it came with nothing but a thick, sweet, syrupy dipping sauce which wasn’t particularly nice, and it was very greasy! We also had a side order of fries which were soggy and covered in oil.

I think this is the kind of place where you need to decide your dishes carefully.  The dishes we’ve had that are Italian in origin have been very well executed. Deep fried items have been badly done. I would return (I do want to try the weekday afternoon tea) but not so sure about my fiance, who didn’t feel very well after last night’s meal.

Anyway, after that we went to the Barbican for our Contemporary music concert.It was interesting. The premise was that this Brooklyn based group, Bang on a Can, were performing pieces by different modern composers, all based on old recordings- sound and video. The beginning was dreadful, awful scratchy sounds made with old records (not one of the official pieces) and this filler did come back a couple of times in between pieces throughout the evening.

The first piece, however, was really nice, based on a recording of singer Benoit Benoit, with first clarinet and then keyboard and eventually the whole group (including double bass, cello, percussion and guitar) imitating the sound/melody. This was followed by the reading of a poem, read and written by John Cage “Diary: How to Improve The World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse) accompanied by some nice music, which was quite effective.

Other pieces I enjoyed included “Gene takes a drink” which was a Flight of the Bumblebee-esque piece of music (fast, hyperactive) as a video played of a garden, with low down camera work, moving fast up and down and all over the place. Eventually the camera reached a pond where you saw the reflection of a dog drinking and realised that the camera was attached to its collar. I really liked that. Also, a recording made in a Casino with accompanying music, imitating the sounds of the slot machines.

I didn’t enjoy the sounds of knives and scissors sharpening so much, but there were plenty of interesting pieces in there and I would recommend seeing this dynamic group:

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