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Eppyfest 2016 live review - Stroud

Live Review

Venue: Lansdown Hall, Stroud

Judy Dyble and William D Drake join a cast of innovative musical makers at this year's event.

Rivalling Glastonbury as the epicentre of magickal hippie Englishness, Stroud is the perfect location for EppyFest. Held in a community hall next to a spiritualist church, the atmosphere is a mix of village fete and obsessive fan convention. Welcome to sleepy Middle England, with all its occult oddness bubbling away just below the surface.

Festivities begin with guitar-strumming balladeer Tom Slatter. He leavens his surrealistic Sci-fi lyrics with self-deprecating humour, which is charming but overly whimsical in places. A more seasoned and impressive singer-songwriter is Marvin B Naylor, whose 12-string musings combine Bert Jansch-level melodicism with Roy Harper-style tonal shifts, free-form song structures and sudden swerves into tremulous falsetto.

An early EppyFest highlight are the electro-acoustic improvisation duo Darkroom, consisting of Michael Bearpark and Andrew Ostler, swollen to a trio on this occasion by their Turkish guest player Elif YalvaƧ. Mixing laptops with modular synthesisers, guitars and woodwind instruments, their set features a series of explorations into Eno-esque ambitronics, ebbing and surging before the sonic storm clouds finally dissipate to allow soft rays of Floydian guitar to shine through. Potent stuff.

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