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Group Members: The Neil Campbell Collective
All Music Guide:
British avant-garde collective Vibracathedral Orchestra was formed in 1998 by Julian Bradley, Neil Campbell, Bridget Hayden, Adam Davenport, and Michael Flower. The group's aesthetic is based on long-form drones coming straight out of the '60s tradition of Eastern-inspired rock and folk music, exemplified in the musings of obscure hippie collective ensembles Third Ear Band and Hapsash & the Colored Coat and Velvet Underground. Touching bases with the early classical minimalism of Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and Tony Conrad along the way, the Vibracathedral Orchestra create trance music from other dimensions. Their recorded music is strictly played live, in the home or in concert, recorded direct to two-track tape with guitars, violins, cello, banjo, mandolin, tanpura, clarinet, recorders, flute, whistles, trombone, various home-made instruments, percussion, organ, toy piano, and an arsenal of Casio toy organs.
Leader Neil Campbell was a veteran of the U.K. underground drone music scene having been a member of the mystical lo-fi act A Band and worked on numerous collaborations with the extraordinarily talented Richard Youngs, noise acts Prick Decay, Simon Wickham Smith, Smell and Quim, and the Universal Indians. Julian Bradley was half of the ultra-obscure duo the Negative Kite, and released a string of cassettes as Scorch.
Vibracathedral Orchestra started releasing music in 1999 with a CDR label of their own, which put out a number of obscurities that made their way to underground noise and avant-garde circles the world over. By the middle of 2000, the group had releases popping up in ultra-limited editions, and with American labels VHF and Giardia both putting out albums, their work became available a little more widely. Their affiliations with U.K. underground heroes Richard Youngs and Simon Wickham Smith, Skullflower, and Sunroof! got college radio and press looking to the U.K. indie scene again for inventive free-form music in the shadow of an electronica overdose to which the Vibracathedral Orchestra's organic music offered the perfect antidote. The CD Lino Hi appeared on Giardia records in 2000, and Versatile Arab Chord Chart on VHF, while Freedom From and Roaratorio released limited vinyl-only releases of their low-tech jamming.
The ultra obscure self-released 10" EP "Falling Free You and Me"/"Filling Sacks with Colored Scraps" -- although not officially a Vibracathedral Orchestra release -- is one of the stellar recordings of the group members in different incarnations doing cosmic improvisations that sound similar to some of the early John Cale experiments released on Sunblinded Music.
Fans of the underground scene that spawned the likes of the Dead C., Richard Youngs, Organum, and Nurse with Wound will hear a logical progression in the sound of Vibracathedral Orchestra, who carry the mantle of noise and Minimalism into a new century.
Vibracathedral Orchestra is an England-based drone ensemble that has been active since 1998.
The original group came together when Mick Flower began recording with Neil Campbell and Julian Bradley, who had released a number of homemade cassettes and an LP of their duo work. They self-released 2 CD-R albums before Campbell suggested merging the nascent group with the trio Flower was working with alongside Bridget Hayden and Adam Davenport, forming the best-known five-piece Vibracathedral Orchestra line-up.
Vibracathedral Orchestra has many self-released albums but has made music available through many underground labels, including VHF Records, Giardia, Eclipse, U-Sound, Qbico, Textile and Freedom From. They have twice been featured in session on Resonance FM, given an hour-long slot each time.
Although very much a fixed unit, the line-up has been occasionally augmented by the likes of Matthew Bower, John Godbert, Richard Youngs, John Clyde Evans (latterly known as Tirath Singh Nirmala), and Tom Greenwood (of Jackie-O Motherfucker). Julian Bradley left the group in 2004 with both Neil Campbell and Bridget Hayden following him in 2006. A new album, Wisdom Thunderbolt, featuring Chris Corsano and Matthew Bower as guests, was released on VHF in 2007. The group performed at the Colour Out Of Space festival in Brighton in August 2008 with a line-up of Flower, Davenport and Bradley.