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Thomas Dalzell / Lives As Omens in Sheffield

Thomas Dalzell / Lives As Omens
Bishops House, Sheffield
Saturday 21st September 2024, £13.20
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    Thomas Dalzell / Lives As Omens + Phosphene + Pefkin, £13.20

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Thomas Dalzell/Lives as omens cut his teeth as a singer/synth player in various post punk bands, around Edinburgh in the late 1970s/early 80s. He's also played saxophone in a diverse range of ensembles, from 1950s style r&b, jazz and Scottish traditional fusion.

He's been performing as Lives as omens since 2010 and occasionally as jazzhandstemazepamman. He released his debut solo album Chymical Garden of Delights (on Komponist) in 2021. A collection of stories, some ancient, some more recent, recorded between 2010 and 2020.

He's currently recording a new album, produced by John Cavanagh, which features Gayle Brogan on vocals and John Cavanagh on VCS 3 amongst others.


John Cavanagh began recording as Phosphene in 2000, a solo project with a constant openness towards collaborations. The fourth full-length Phosphene album, The Amber Time Machine was recently released on Sonido Polifonico Records of Sheffield and features guests including Gayle Brogan (Pefkin, Burd Ellen, John's cohort in Electroscope), John Clark/Debukas (bis), Finland's Sonic Temple Assassins, members of the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra and more.

Phosphene's live shows across time, though not great in number, have included an exhibition guest performance amidst an 8-bit projected flock of birds at Dundee Contemporary Arts, a show in a church in Cheltenham with Charles Hayward (one of Cavanagh's musical heroes) and, for this special appearance in Sheffield, the Phosphene show will feature a film homage to Vincent Price, Roger Corman and The Raven.

Phosphene's sound was described by Terrascope's Phil McMullen as something which approaches the levels of texture found in a Rimsky-Korsakov (with his colour/hearing synaesthesia), or a Debussy. Oliver Postgate deemed Phosphene Evocative, occasionally disturbing!

Cavanagh is known for his long-standing work as a voiceover artist and radio presenter. In addition, he wrote one of the first books in Bloomsbury's 33-1/3rd series on classic albums: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (on Pink Floyd's debut) is now available in Italian, Spanish and Chinese... plus the original in English! John also produces records and occasionally operates a record label, with releases including albums by Delia Derbyshire and Ron Geesin.

John Cavanagh's website:

Physical release on Sonido Polifonico Records, SP 039 in very limited edition box set form

Gayle Brogan performs solo under the name Pefkin, creating slowly-unfolding, ritualistic hymnals that draw heavily on the landscape and natural world, using violin, electronics, voice and field recordings. She has released albums internationally on labels such as Morc, Wild Silence, Digitalis and Sonido Polifonico. She is also one half of innovative folk duo Burd Ellen, a third of psychedelic electric folk trio Meadowsilver, and has collaborated with cult Irish singer-songwriter Alison O'Donnell, modular synth composer Jonathan Sharp, and Irish collective United Bible Studies. Gayle has performed across the UK and Europe, including Fano Free Folk Festival in Denmark as well as Cambridge, Sidmouth, Leigh and Moseley Folk Festivals in recent years. She co-promotes a highly respected series of sell-out gigs in a Tudor museum in Sheffield.
Pefkin emerged after the retro-futuristic psych / electronic duo Electroscope went into hibernation in 2000. Her first solo show was supporting Pram in spring of that year. Influenced by Nico, Hood, Movietone and Syd Barrett, she created a fragmentary, more stripped-down version of Electroscopes bedroom psychedelia but retreated from live performance in 2001. Pefkin has released over 10 albums on labels such as Morc, Wild Silence, Reverb Worship, Digitalis, Pseudoarcana and Siren Wire as well as several sold-out lathe cuts on Sonido Polifonico. Pefkin returned to live performance in 2013 and has played across the UK and Europe, including Fano Free Folk Festival and Woolf II in 2019.

Her sound comprises a mesmerising and enigmatic layering of vocals, violin, analogue synth, zither, psaltery, harp, guitar, found objects and field recordings. She records at home in Sheffield.

Pefkins music has received comparisons to Coil, Popul Vuh and Nico.

Spooked-out twilight listening that is both unsettling and compelling, drawing you into a private world. (Ed Pinsent / Sound Projector)

Something akin to what it must have been like hearing Nico's 'Marble Index' when it was released; alien yet curiously familiar, beautiful yet stark, hypnotic yet troubling. (Grey Malkin / Active Listener)

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