Rob Padley, Arsey Rob, Sly And The Family Drone – Dubrek Studios

A palindromic night of sorts, it depended upon why you had come. Rob Padley unveiled a collection of his oil on canvas works in the café area, and upstairs were performances from Arsey Rob and Sly And The Family Drone.

To start the night Russell Beresford was on hand DJing with a selection of electro beats for people to get in the mood whilst taking in the exhibition. A very civil early doors crowd had gathered specifically for the artwork, and it’s great to see people taking advantage of these events on the level that they wish to engage them.

At a glance the collection is largely geometric, rectangles, squares, thin downward bars and so forth, but the more you look and take in, the more variation appears. Thick oil layers give way to thinner, more delicate brush strokes and small spatter marks. Careful thought in colour choice of skies which thickly fight for position, images start to appear of streets and roads.

The immediately formulaic approach of heavy vertical ridges stands out, mainly due to the immense beast of a piece, Region 20 which grabs your attention even before you fully enter the room. A variety of darker oils are present strafed in thick downward strokes. My assumption was that it had been created through careful palette knife application, but Rob explained that it was actually put in place using a variety of different sized grouting scrapers. Initial observation of the piece showed that there was clearly something underneath this thicker layer, large diagonal crosshatching and another layer of artwork beneath that.

Rob has an appreciation for the variances of British weather and sees beauty in what we might consider the mundane. A rainy scene just off of Derby’s inner ring road is inspiration for one piece, another a straight view down a street.

“They are mainly landscapes and cityscapes, but people see other stuff in there which is fine by me; as long as I’m putting paint onto a canvas I’m happy! Some of them are entire paintings that were finished and then got covered up by another painting which are those ones with the vertical lines in rows. All my future paintings are looking like that right now. I like the result.

“I like the idea of veiling a painting through another painting. Region 20 has about four other paintings in there. It started off as a very loose abstract and then got covered up with a much looser abstract with much thicker paint using a very big wallpaper brush so you get big thick strokes in there. Next was a layer of quite thin, washed down paint with plenty of turpentine, lots of vertical stripes in different colours and finally covered up with the really thick stripes that you see.”

Arsey Rob, Rob Padley, Sly And The Family Drone at Dubrek

Changing monikers, the multi-disciplined Rob Padley transforms into Arsey Rob as his one man electro attack is first on the bill. Previously of Wintering this is a glorious in your face series of punches mixed with floating pads which are filtered and resonantly bent on the fly, 1980s C64 lasers thwips, hints of Saturn and Juno here and there, solid rounded kicks and white noise snares, glitching, slicing, stuttering, swinging its way across the set.

It’s good to see the music getting the recognition it deserves live. A CD of such a mix wouldn’t necessarily be out of place in a [INSERT CHAIN BAR OF YOUR CHOICE TRYING TO CAPTURE THE 20-30 DEMOGRAPHIC] to neck Jaeger Bombs to, but to see it play out live is excellent. Naturally reserved, there is void concentration in his wide-eyed-glazed stare, only betrayed by a subtle foot tapping and fingers drumming in anticipation of the next loop to be added on, dubstep subs and delayed flanges push and withdraw with the precision of a slow motion coastal undertow filmed in 4k in winter. By the end of the performance he hasn’t even broken a sweat.

Arsey Rob, Rob Padley, Sly And The Family Drone at Dubrek

A short break from the boiling room, we all vacate to the beer garden. On our return upstairs the scene has changed drastically and the four members of Sly And The Family Drone are set up and ready right in the centre of everything. The audience is free to move around the entire room. Its utterly captivating as there is no ‘front’ only ‘in’ and the generally stoic faces of an audience happy to avoid eye contact with others gives way swiftly to nods and smiles. It swiftly sunk in that the word ‘drone’ in the Sly And The Family Drone may well have been an indication of the type of music and a slow drudgery began the set. Lots of general rocking back and forth from the three stood members of the band, the drummer nodding until they were in sync with each other ready to launch.

Arsey Rob, Rob Padley, Sly And The Family Drone at Dubrek

Three desks full of pedals lay ready to be frenetically jabbed at, small mixers with auxiliaries fed back into themselves, vocal mics feeding back from the speakers and a mildly bemused technician working out what exactly should be fed through the PA which largely pointed at an empty space given the crowd had moved much further forwards into the performance itself. Pounding rhythms from all ensued and the saxophonist lit up. This sort of music is deceptive as it feels like it lasted for maybe ten minutes at most but was probably a lot longer. The energy and communication, the power unleashed fully entertained the audience which was awash with genuine smiles of mild awe.

The second half of the set stepped up a notch, whilst no specific melodic instruments beyond the saxophone, there was more variation in the pitch textures being created. Tempo increased and so did the room temperature leading to the main puppeteer of the group to begin stripping, jacket and top disappearing.

Then came the interaction. There was insistence that people join in, and join in they did. Floor toms and cymbals were rabidly distributed to all so that they could join in with the unceasing tribal element that reigned. Now down to a pair of modest black boxers, the ring leader, drenched in sweat climbed his amp/cab stack, arms raised as the music drifted out.

Arsey Rob, Rob Padley, Sly And The Family Drone at Dubrek

Utterly captivating, this is something that I really don’t know if I want to see again. I’m sorely tempted to drive to their upcoming Leicester gig, but equally want to keep hold of the memory of this performance for a little longer. A definite must-see if they ever swing this way again!

You can find Rob Padley‘s Art and Photography:

You can find Arsey Rob:

You can find Sly And The Family Drone:

You can find Dubrek Studios:

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