I don’t often leave the D2 comfort zone to go to gigs (and when I do I generally make a big deal of it), but Thinguma*jigsaw are special. I’ve never seen them before, and as their album is probably the best thing to come out of Ireland since… James Joyce? I was excited.
James Joyce, then. My understanding was that the event was in celebration of Bloomsday, and that this was why Thinguma*jigsaw were playing (they love him). Thinguma*jigsaw are an insane, hyper-literate, necro-obsessed Norwegian couple whose arrangements consist of banjo-and-musical saw, banjo-and-flute or banjo-and-melodica pretty much exclusively, if you didn’t know.
It was a walk around Howth Head, followed by a repair to the Bailly for further music and merriment. James Joyce and Thinguma*jigsaw (with the potential for added Mumblin’ Deaf Ro) in Howth is basically the ideal Saturday afternoon to me. There was something weird though. Aoife Mc flagged it, but I missed it. Psycho Kate Bush fan event. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a Kate Bush psycho, but I’m not one, and I’ve only heard two Kate Bush songs ever. So that was a bit of a shock. Also, we couldn’t find the actual walk so we just went to the pier until the pub bit started anyway.
I think the Severed Headmaster and Little Myth Epiphanymph, a.k.a. Seth and Martha (Seth may be a second level of fake name – possible real name Stein) were probably there for the Joyce rather than the Bush too though. They started with a reading of the climax to Ulysses that captured a lot of its fluidity and energy, and also showcased Severed-Seth-Stein’s hybrid Norwego-Hiberno-Americo-Mockney accent.
They commanded silence for their music. The Headmaster landed somewhere between an author reading his work and a circus ringmaster introducing acts when explaining songs. Martha did not talk, but her death-stare said enough. They sang a lot of songs about death, including a cover of I Love The Dead by Alice Cooper which has the implied Joyce association attached (cheat sheet: last book of Dubliners is called The Dead). His voice is a frail falsetto, over a musical backing which has to be skeletal by definition.
Skeletal is Thinguma*jigsaw all over. They trade in silence, gaunt banjo picking under genuinely shiver-inducing bowed-saw parts. They are kind of scary, especially at such close proximity. If you can’t picture the music still, go to the Muxtape and listen to Serpent’s Apple. I have no idea how a duo would develop into what Thinguma*jigsaw are. No microphones, no nothing. Just words, bones and shivers.