At the end of the month, London hosts the two-day Match & Fuse experimental music festival. Promising a mix of jazz, rock, electronic music and genre-defying acts, you probably won’t have heard of most of the artists – but you’ll enjoy discovering them.
Now in its fourth year, the previously Dalston-based festival adds New River Studios in Manor House and the Green Rooms Hotel in Wood Green to its venue list this year.
Match & Fuse has held festivals in Norway, Italy, France and Poland. It aims to bring together European artists with different experiences, cultures and histories to see what kind of music they create.
So why come to our ends in 2016?
“There are pockets of London seeing a surge of artistic activity, with new and interesting venues opening,” explains Match & Fuse’s founder Dave Morecroft. Given New River Studios community-focused mantra, and Green Rooms’ focus on artist development, Morecroft said both venues “seemed a natural fit”.
A musician himself, Morecroft wanted to bring to London the experimental music scene that flourishes in Europe. He also wants to create an environment that is more hospitable to touring European acts.
Morecroft has just returned from France, where he says they held one of their most successful festivals in Toulouse. Much of the line-up will feature in London too.
“All these bands want to play in London because it’s the biggest city in Europe. But it’s a tough scene. So last year, when a Swiss band played to a packed house and went away saying, ‘Wow, London is great,’ that felt really fulfilling.”
But as much as it’s about the bands, it’s also about the audiences they attract.
That’s quite a mixed group at Match & Fuse, as you’d expect from a festival that hosts everyone from younger people seeking something new to older ‘chinstrokers’ who want something different.
Or everything from what Morecroft calls a “reverently silent” crowd at Café Oto to a packed dancefloor at Vortex Jazz Club.
“We want to bring something new to people,” he explains. “We want Match & Fuse to expose people to music they didn’t know they liked.”
If that’s not a lofty enough ambition, he also wants to the festival to be about discovering other cultures and creating a stronger sense of community cohesion. He describes it as “leaving your politics at the door – but then picking them up on the way out, with a different experience.”
It’s predictably hard for Morecroft to list the unmissable Match & Fuse acts, especially as his programming deliberately doesn’t focus on ‘headliner’ acts.
However we convinced him to give Seventh Sister readers his top picks:
Friday at New River Studios
• “Intimate and intense” French cello duo Leila Martial & Valentin Ceccaldi
• Match & Fuse’s first Estonian act, Ingrid Lukas
• Danish group Horse Orchestra and Norway’s Krokofant (two bands on a UK tour also playing in Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol)
Saturday at Café Oto
• “Brand new and exciting collaborations” Susana Santos Silva + Evan Parker (Poland and UK)
• Swiss harpist Julie Campiche playing with UK’s Pete Marsh and Paul May
Saturday at Vortex
• “Dark Swedish electro outfit” The Soil Collectors
• Lithuanian “power-rock-improv trio” Sheep Got Waxed
Plus, of course, an impromptu jam session (“it’s all about taking risks”) in the Green Rooms on Friday night.
Words by Nicole Val
Photos supplied by Match and Fuse