I’d love to be able to write reviews about the artists performing at Musicircus but I have two problems stopping me. One: there wasn’t really anything that said who each artist was and Two: it was really difficult to hear a lot of it. To it’s merit, Musicircus showed just how much music there is in Colchester – it was good to see the streets filled with people performing but, while I appreciate their goal, it was a bit difficult to absorb what was going on. The idea is based on the series by the same name by John Cage back in the 60s – the concept wasn’t a bad one, really, but I’m not sure it necessarily works with the kind of music on display. Potentially if the performers were all working in he same key, perhaps the same sort of tempo and with the same dynamics then this could have been an interesting two hours but you could be standing a few metres away from an acoustic performer and still not make out what they’re singing as the horn section 10m away blasts away. One street had more of a chance with just three performers but the woman playing acoustic music, without any amplification, stood no chance when placed opposite a two piece band with a bass drum and microphones. They in turn stood no chance against the drum kit playing further down the road.
In amongst the chaos I think Wilswood Buoys were blessed with the best position; up on the roof tops inbetween the two main hubs of music in Lion Walk, they were able avoid most of the sound bleed that made a lot of the event a bit more difficult. There were some nice interactive components too – the drum circle outside Paperchase gave children the opportunity to get involved and there were instruments in the walkway to the high street set up for people to play along. As I walk back through the main part of Lion Walk I see someone angrily ripping their cables out of their amplifier, their voice lost to the two bands and the orchestra of horns playing just meteres away from them. I think the concept cold possibly have worked a bit better if the artists were interacting with each other – when you have three singers standing 10m from each other at a crossroads it doesn’t really work if they’re all playing their own material – if they’d been able to work together, harmonise, play in the same key, play in the same temp they could have potentially created something uniquely interesting. As it was I just found it all a bit difficult to understand. Maybe next year they’ll take the concept and improve it, I think it has a lot of potential.