counterfnord

Gigs, dance, art

September 28th, 2007: Andy Moor, Tony Buck, Xavier Charles / John Wiese

@instants chavirés

I didn’t know anything about John Wiese, I had heard some praise but nothing specific. I can’t say his set lived up to the hype. A lot of clicks and rustling, some bell and metal sounds. But I couldn’t find my way within the whole. There were changes in pace and density, but I couldn’t make sense of it. I felt on the outside looking in, which is kinda frustrating if familiar usually, but not even that here. It just went over my head sight unseen. I just struck out on that one.

The main act was more like my usual playground. The clarinet of Xavier Charles was the most exotic element, as I had already seen Tony Buck a few times before. Of course I had seen Andy Moor many times, but never outside my beloved The Ex. What I really loved about this set is that they went through a quite diverse range of sounds and pace. Of course there was the usual spells of micro-sounds with quote-unquote unconventional handling of instruments — actually really common in that kind of music. But from time to time Andy Moor would play for while like he does in the freeform parts of Ex shows, and the others followed suit. My only regret was that I could not hear the clarinet clearly enough most of the time, especially when the volume went up. But there was some interesting interplay within that group, without any one dominating the proceedings. A good balance overall, and probably my favorite Tony Buck performance so far, as I felt the others prevented him from settling in any familiar routine. I believe they kept keeping each other from getting complacent, and that’s when improvised music is at its best for me.

September 29, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

September 27th, 2007: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui – Myth

Opening of the regular dance season, at last. Unfortunately, I had a very bad seat, especially for this one. It one so far on the side that some parts of the stage were out of sight. And of course it did matter as a lot was going on, and I missed part of the action. Another drawback was that I could not see half the musicians. There was a small ensemble on stage playing medieval music, and my curiosity about the instruments was thwarted. Not a big deal, as there was a lot to see anyway, but still. He’s been using a lot of live medieval music, and I share that fondness.

Overall, I liked it. I was more into it at the beginning than at the end, but that might be overload after two hours, reinforced by my not being able to see part of the action. Or maybe it was because the first chapter struck a bell. A lot of dancers dressed in black, hugging the ground around actors like their shadows at times, but more often moving of their own accord. Their movements were on the fluid side, a quality that disappeared as the show progressed. I usually like harsher stuff more, but here there was something about these shadows that I really connected with.

I couldn’t help thinking it was ironic how there was a spoken part about the wizard of Oz and finding a home. As I felt the overall mood switch from the early shadows to more light — and light can be harsh and violent — I felt like that comfortable place was drifting away. My home is in the shadow. I acknowledge my shadehood. It’s both a blessing and a curse, this connection. It does mean I’m missing the point, seeing myself there means I’m not seeing what was actually there. On the other hand, I’ve come to rely on dance for these insights. I don’t like it as much as I need it.

September 29, 2007 Posted by | Dance | , | Leave a comment

September 26th, 2007: El-P / Buck 65 / Bitchee Bitchee Ya Ya Ya / Smallwhitelight

@point éphémère

If there was any logic to putting these four bands together, it was lost on me. But on the other hand, there’s no need for any. Then again, the audience was receptive to all, so maybe it did make sense somehow.

Smallwhitelight came first. As far as I’m concerned, that was some run of the mill power-pop combo. With that typical british melodic bent. It’s not my thing anymore, and I found the drummer to be grating: most of the time he was just pounding with annoying regularity.

After a short break, it was time for Bitchee Bitchee Ya Ya Ya. Here the drummer was way more interesting, but I only liked a couple of songs. Way too sugary for me. Not as in mellow or soft, but as in some synthetic candy: at first it might be enjoyable, but it gets old real quick for me. Plus the singer’s voice was mixed too low. I often complain about the sound in that venue, and tonight was no exception.

Buck 65 was next, and we finally got into the part of the show I came for. That means Hip-Hop. Which is probably part of my negative approach to the opening bands. Anyway, this guy is really interesting, especially as a producer. He samples stuff that are pretty unusual in that kind of music, which is a very refreshing take. I didn’t care much for his flow at first, but it did grow on me. He even did a little DJing at times, though it was only for short bursts at the end of songs. That was tantalizing to me as I’m a big fan of DJing and I wish there had been more of it. But nonetheless I enjoyed this show. And anyone who covers the Jungle Brothers earns serious brownie points with me.

And then, at last, on to El-P. He had a nice, nice crew, with a second MC, a good DJ and some guy wielding keyboards. Again, I was bitching at the sound, I thought the balance was just not right. Maybe I was not in the best location within the room, but it combined with their pouring in some smoke whenever the DJ took center stage to annoy me. Anyway the set was pretty good. A lot of energy and edge without hostility, which is sometimes a tricky line in that genre. The MCs even left the stage to the DJ at some point, a development which I loved — his use of Radiohead’s National Anthem was a crowd pleaser, and that included me for a change, even though that’s maybe too obvious. There were some gems for me. What I like best is when the different layers are contradictory yet somehow manage to work together. They pulled that off several times.

September 27, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

September 24th, 2007: Grey Daturas / Placenta Popeye

@instants chavires

Back to my usual haunt, for the first time in months. I’m also back on the gig trail after a longish hiatus — one week is a long time for me. A loud gig to cleanse my ears. A welcome change of pace from the more subdued fare of this extended summer.

The opening band was Placenta Popeye. A guitar/bass combo that played very loud, starting with a pure maelstrom of noisy fury before calming down a tad. Not much, but the second song feature a pounding bass instead of a barrage of distorted sound. The guitar never went for such niceties, though. I was not in the mood for nice anyway, so I welcomed the assault. Nothing exceptional, but a cathartic moment, I won’t play picky.

Grey Daturas were something else. Though they’re supposed to be a trio, there were only two of them tonight. Wow. The sound was loud and somewhat abrasive too, but I felt it was completely mastered. Three long parts, the first one was the one I liked the most. A steady dronish line that got me thinking of Earth with a feedback-heavy experimental guitar was fooling around — and I mean that in the best possible sense. Almost freeish at times. The second part saw drums come in play, without much relenting in the physical experience of that richest sound. Really impressive. No, really, they made a lot of noise but always seemed to be completely in control of their sound, kind of sculpting the air. They said they would be back next year, I definitely will go with the usual disclaimers — I would have to know about it and be available.

September 25, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

Juliana Hatfield on my mind

It had been a while. I had been avoiding listening to her music for months, probably the longest spell since I first heard her more than fifteen years ago. I was afraid of having lost it. What “it” is is that faint but strong connection to her voice and music. I was scared of binding it to what I was going through at the time. Still am. But then I found out about that EP with Frank Smith and had to check it out. And when I got it I had to listen to it in the worst possible place; I guess it was all or nothing, or more accurately I had to know what was left.

Again, unsurprisingly, it turned out to be perfectly in tune to what I was at the time. It’s been that way for years now. At first I let the binding take place, thinking I was in deep trouble if even her voice couldn’t get me out of this mess I’m in. That’s what I wanted to know, setting up a clash between my bounds to two of the people dearest to me. Which one would give first. Of course it turned out different. The last song, On Your Mind, turned out to be the one I must have known was in store. I would have dismissed it a few months ago, but it was perfect now. Not what I wanted at all, better in a way. No clash but an acceptance.

A binding I wanted to avoid, but there was no such thing, as it was already too late. Her music has always been directly in touch with my inner self, so it stands as no surprise that this came about. Now I don’t really know what to make of it. At some point in the future I guess I will dare/need to pop in Become what you are. Maybe I’ll move to Boston at last. Maybe I’ll give up at last. Maybe it won’t change anything. I do believe I’d be dead by now without that particular record. I got no idols is my personal favorite, but feeling Massachussetts is the one song that has always been most special to me. I don’t know how to express that. I’m afraid of losing that bond, I’m afraid of sharing that somehow. But I come to thinking all I’m doing is postponing knowledge of what already is, whatever that is exactly.

On a more light-hearted note, I’m probably the only person to have come to Godspeed You! Black Emperor by way of Juliana Hatfield. The connection? None, but she had done some backing vocals on a Giant Sand record and while looking for that one I saw a Godspeed record, loved the name and bought it. This eventually led me to all this gig-going, along with what I alluded to in this post. It’s all making sense in a way only I can appreciate.

September 17, 2007 Posted by | Life, Music | Leave a comment

September 14th, 2007: Api uiz / Le club des chats / Oso el roto / Projet Piscine

@miroiterie

It had been a long time I hadn’t been to a gig set up by Kliton, I think that would date back to January or so. I like what they do, but I often had other plans. I’m also selling a bridge or two.

Projet Piscine was unknown to me, but I was pleasantly surprised. Keyboards/voice and bass duo, the surprise came from their sound. It felt very eightiesish to me, but I actually liked it, even though I’m not usually fond of such old stuff. The lack of drums didn’t bother me at all, which is another unusual reaction. I’d like to check them out again in a few months, see if that’s just a weird mood of mine or just their being good. For now I’ll settle on the latter.

The next act was no surprise, as I’ve seen Oso el Roto many times. More of his trademark nonsense lyrics and voice games. It can be fun, but I was not receptive tonight.

I had heard about le club des chats, but never seen them before. Light-hearted and fun, at least at first. It did grow old for me about halfway through though. I don’t know, but I would have like them to stray from that routine somehow; on the other hand, there would have been no point for them to do that.

Last, but definitely not least, Api Uiz took the stage. Like by storm. They play loud and fast, a guitar/bass/drums trio without vocals. Not that a singer would have been heard anyway. That felt good. Some good old noise/punk music with an unstable balance. After all that jazz lately, I guess I needed this. I should aim for some balance myself in the coming months.

I was pleased to see the room filling up after a sparse beginning. I hope this event was successful enough for them to plan more gigs in the near future. They are good people and deserve some support.

September 14, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment

September 13th, 2007: Peeping Tom – Le sous-sol

This was the opening of the dance season for me, even though it was actually a deferred show from earlier this year. An elderly dancer/actor had been injured, but she seemed to have fully recovered. It was supposed to be the third part in a trilogy, but I had missed the first one. The one I had seen had a lot of theater elements in it, but not tonight, where words were few and far between.

The theme was supposed to be death, but I missed it as usual. I just suck at getting messages. I guess that’s why the stage was covered in a thick layer of fine grained seeming soil. At first the dancers came and did related solo parts, where the moves where at once fluid and halting, with leaps that remained close to the ground and unnatural movements that were somehow making sense. Even though my impression of it doesn’t. I can only hope these words will spur my memory later on. Then came longer parts where, after touching, they would remained as if glued together, turning and carrying each other while staying in contact. Well that’s not technically true, but that’s what the effect was on me; I can make an effort not to be that dense at times.

I can’t say I was enthusiastic about this, but it was good anyway. I didn’t get bored, and there were a few images I should remember. I’m somewhat annoyed that I missed so much of it: I was there, but some things just don’t make sense to me. Maybe that’s why I tend to like abstract dance: there’s much less social content there, and I’m just bad at everything social.

September 13, 2007 Posted by | Dance | , | Leave a comment