Rhiannon Lowe's picture

CCQ didn't go to Bristol last weekend as some might have... we stayed home and went to From Now On, a brilliant gem of a festival on our doorstep.

Apparently there was a festival in Bristol at the weekend. If you listened to BBC 6 music, it d be hard not to have known. It s a shame that they, those jockeys of discs, didn t mention the fabulous, new and engaging festival that occurred the very same weekend just over the bridge in Cardiff: the wonderful From Now On; bizarre, given that some of the same bands have been championed by BBC 6 and even recently played live sets, (you listening, Marc Riley...)

 Adam Chard Apostille. Photo: Adam Chard

But enough of my petty gripes! With the weekend pretty much sold out, Chapter, where From Now On takes place, was buzzing, animating the venue in ways that used to epitomise it: as focal point for artists of all genres to congregate, shoot the shit, and come up with the next new thing. From Now On is in its third year, and 2016 brought in perhaps its widest range of stuff. I wonder where else it would have been possible to see such a breadth of artistic goodness.

The Friday evening gave early clues to the diversity that was to come. Upstairs, Tom Raybould gave out interactive virtual reality goggles and headphones, a circle of virtual string players surrounded the wearer, each one starting, stopping, and coming to an inanimate rest at the touch of a button. Over in the studio space, Meilyr Jones earlier afternoon soulful solo piano performance, as part of his artist in residence project at Chapter, was a striking contrast to the full-on charismatic and supercharged show that same evening.

Saturday s programme included: Anna Homler and Steven Warwick s Bread Woman, a figure with face and arms encased in bread, crooning cosmically to a background of ambient weirdness; Apostille, a Glaswegian explosion of punk and dance, rammed through wild driving synth, with movement and singing of a vulnerability that belied the jumping white socks and DM s; and Bas Jan, my favourites of the day, forging beautiful and awkward pop through a mix of Serafina Steer s delightful storytelling and rough bass, the ear-to-ear grin of Jenny Moore on her excitable drums, and sometime Chrome Hoof, Sarah Anderson s delicate violin.

 Adam Chard Breadwoman. Photo: Adam Chard

On Sunday morning, H.Hawkline led Sweet Baboo/Steve Black, Kliph Scurlock/an ex Flaming Lip, and go-to artist Casey Raymond in a semi-improvised interpretation, or rather an accompaniment of sorts, to a 70s Welsh horror film Gwaed ar y Ser (Blood on the Stars) - oh yes, brilliant. The previous morning we had been treated to a selection of crazy music pieces and films put together by CAM Sinema. These included documents of a couple of events from Chapter s long-running Expermentica festival, exploratory band videos, and an artist film about taking Welsh wool and plumbing into space.

 Adam Chard Serafina Steer of Bas Jan. Photo: Adam Chard

That evening showcased a series of bands (Threatmantics, They Is They Is They Is and Witching Waves) over which were projected image and film spliced and cut together by Club Foot Foot/Casey Raymond. Crammed into a gap was L Ocelle Mare s solo set of barely-held together beats, taps and rattles, harnessed by nervous twitching and OCD-driven off-kilter rhythms. Tiny hotel reception bells, foot beats, thigh strikes, banjo flourishes and tuning forks, were all carefully choreographed in; he (Thomas Bonavet of L'O M) seemed relieved at the end, it was as though he (and some of us watching) hadn t breathed through the whole performance.

 Adam Chard L'Ocelle Mare. Photo: Adam Chard

Oh, and to name but a few, Laura J Martin, Laura Cannell, Mark Lyken, Stealing Sheep and Julia Holter (yeh 6 Music, we had Julia Holter too) were in there as well; blinding, intimate sets and performances from bigger names used to much bigger venues. How lucky were we!

I fell over on the way home, my head zinging still, full of the visual earful of little wonders I d experienced. Good times. See you next year, Mr Marc Riley.

From Now On is brought to life by the wonderful Shape records and Chapter.