Alistair Strachan plays cornet, flugelhorn, electronics and percussion. He is regularly spotted playing at experimental and folk gigs in Brighton, and in the past few years he has begun touring in Europe. He is an active member of two notable musical collectives: Safehouse, an open improvisers group, and Willkommen, who lean more towards folk. As a promoter and curator he has put on many events, sometimes low-key gigs in small venues, other times more expansive affairs such as SoundCurious, a weekend festival of musicians interacting with visual art.
People sometimes come up to Alistair after gigs and remark that they didn’t realise the cornet could be played so softly. A music mogul in Frankfurt once suggested that his lips must be made of balsa wood, such was the softness of his tone. This lightness of touch has drawn him to composers and musicians who value subtle, plaintive playing over the more strident trumpeting normally associated with a brass section. His horn certainly emits some eerie noises on occasion, perhaps informed by the many years he spent as the web editor for the Fortean Times, fielding news reports of incoming frog falls and unearthly hums.
He has played at some big UK festivals – Green Man, the Big Chill – and at some fancy venues such as Queen Elizabeth Hall, but most of his favourite gigs have been in more unexpected haunts – an old minesweeper in Deptford Creek, a stone barn in mid-Wales, and inside a large shrub in Warwickshire.
He has a number a regular groups he plays and writes with – Hamilton Yarns, Sons of Noel an Adrian, ViV, Oddfellows Casino and Crayola Lectern to name a few. He has played live with some stars of the musical firmament such as Damo Suzuki and Warren Ellis, and has recorded with two Mercury Prize nominees – The Go! Team and Laura Marling. He has studied with Roma brass players in Serbia and with a local be-bop trumpeter … but none of this seems to have overly changed his sound, which lies somewhere between Trumpton and New Orleans.