Gigs, dance, art

January 26th, 2008: Neokarma Jooklo Trio / The Loosers feat. Valerio Cosi / Talibam!

@instants chavirés

I went in expecting to like Talibam! best, and with mixed feelings about The Loosers. I liked their performance two years ago, but I didn’t like Valerio Cosi when I saw him play with Family Battle Snake. There were good and bad surprises, the first of the latter being the sparse attendance.

The first set was Talibam!, and it was somewhat a letdown for me. My bad, I should have moved around because I couldn’t hear much of the keyboard, it was just drowned out in the relentless drumming. By the time I got a clue, the set was pretty much over.

The Loosers and Valerio Cosi then proceeded to make my evening a success. I really loved that set, not so much for any single moment but for the overall trajectory, from almost funky jazz-rock to dronish krautrock. I liked the vibe of it all, they didn’t seem too high brow and that was just a relief. I got to think of some jazz acts I’ve been seeing lately that were just taking themselves too seriously. Not that this was some slapstick act, but it just felt right to me. And I really liked what Valerio Cosi did as well, a welcome touch of consistency in that shifting landscape. Nice balance.

The final set could have been a mess and I would have been happy nonetheless, but Neokarma Jooklo Trio was anything but. More psych weirdness, that soon went primal in a Sunburned way. Another good one by me. I never tire of this messing around, and they easily overrode the few moments when I got close to switching off. Like when one guy brought out a sitar. I like that instrument, but the way he used it didn’t sit well with me. But they didn’t dwell on it, so it was OK. And that awkward moment soon was washed away, leaving me to enjoy the rest of the set.

January 27, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

January 24th, 2008: L’Instant Donné

@instants chavirés

And now for something completely different. Five works for flute and piano, only one of which was familiar. I’m trying to get this kind of music, with not much success so far. Try and try again. I might break through someday. Not yet, though; I guess the flute didn’t help, I don’t really like that instrument. Funny how chronologically I would rank my liking of these. Not exactly surprising either.

Brian Ferneyhough’s Four Miniatures left me thinking “I really don’t understand this”. I felt there was something there eluding me; I guess I should stick to Turner and Lightning Bolt as far as Brians are concerned. Beat Furrer’s Presto was more to my liking, especially the piano part. Then came a Bach sonata, which just bored me. I thought I liked Bach, and I know I once did, but I seem to have changed my mind; every time I heard some of his music in the past couple of years of so, I got bored. Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune pretty much went on as I expected. I still don’t like it, but it got me thinking about the time that was used in a Rosas performance; was that two years ago? Finally, Salvatore Sciarrino’s D’un faune, which I actually liked, despite strong initial misgivings, dispelled when the piano came in. I had been warned about this guy’s tendency to be boring, but it didn’t have that effect on me; I failed to see the connection to Debussy’s work, but I’m not that smart anyway.

January 25, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment

January 23rd, 2008: Rachid Ouramdane – Superstars / William Forsythe – Enemy in the Figure

@théatre de la ville

Another great one. Two, in a sense. The obvious was that both were performed by the Lyon opera company. But I felt there was some other commonality here, as I saw waves in both. Contrast as well, obviously, slower and rounder with Ouramdane as opposed to the fast angles of Forsythe.

First things first, Superstars was actually a series of solo performances. Each one was supposed to be related to a specific country, but I didn’t nail down each one. Alexandre Meyer was playing guitar with pedals controlling both effects and playback of a soundtrack of dances telling stories of their memories of their countries, in some cases with video displayed on six screens scattered around. The first was my favorite, “about” South Africa; what really mattered to me was the dance, rather slow and displaying impressive technique without virtuosity, a lesson in control for flowing movements and smooth transitions. That had a water-like quality to me, I can’t exactly say why. Each part was very different, yet there was more than the music keeping the whole together. I saw many circles in there, big or small, fast or slow. The lighting was pure white most of the time, but there was  a red one and at the end a beautiful gradual top-down bleeding of green then yellow. There were a couple of moments I didn’t like, but these were outnumbered by those I loved. I really loved the whole. Not everyone did, judging from the loud booing from a vocal minority behind me. That was painful, as in I loved this show enough to take this personally; but I think the naysayers were outnumbered. I don’t mind being in the minority — no kidding — but I don’t like the performers to be booed, especially when they appear to have put so much into it.

Booing was not going to be an issue with the second part anyway, William Forsythe is a household name around here and Limb’s Theorem is allegedly a peak in his career. I don’t know, I never saw that one in full. I had seen Enemy in the Figure before, but that was so long ago. I should fix that. More generally, I should see some Forsythe from time to time. I somehow lost sight of how much I like his work. I guess Limb’s Theorem must have been created soon after to Impressing the Czar, as these looked pretty close, both in the dance and in the music — Thom Willems’s score had strong echoes of In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. A lot of shadows, black and white costumes, some wave patterns with ropes and cables. And of course that speed and the angles, the prominence of legs and straight lines, that twisting of classical technique, that familiar humor and darkness intermingled. The whole performed impressively again. These dancers are great. Of course it’s old news, and it might just be some nostalgia for the time when I was new to all this, but it really felt good. So maybe I should check this company’s schedule. I mean Lyon really isn’t far away; I could probably go there and be back the same day.

January 25, 2008 Posted by | Dance | , , | Leave a comment

January 19th, 2008: Eyes Like Saucers / Oso El Roto


I guess wisdom would have had me staying at home and catching up on shuteye, but I’ve had enough of wisdom. Plus I like the place and its cramped basement. Nice touch in that Steve Reich’s Drumming was being played before and between the sets.

The first set was Oso El Roto with the drummer from Club des chats. I still fail to get it. The fact that the set list was real close to what he did last time I saw him didn’t help at all. Entertaining at first, but a second serving was too much for me.

Eyes Like Saucers was more to my liking. He played a harmonium rigged with pedals so that he can use both hands to play. I’m not fond of that instrument, but enjoyed the set nonetheless. I guess I was in the right mood for such dronish stuff. I wouldn’t have minded his skipping the singing parts though; but that didn’t spoil anything either. Nice if short set, I think it could have been twice as long before I got bored.

January 20, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , | 1 Comment

January 18th, 2008: The Ex & guests / Api Uiz

@instants chavirés

Final day of this series. Even more people were left out this time; I would usually feel bad about hogging tickets like this, but not this time. Had it been The Ex alone, once would have been enough. But I really enjoyed the various combination in the other sets, and that’s why I wanted to get more of that.

The opening set featured Christine Sehnaoui on saxophone, Clayton Thomas on double bass, and Wolter Wierbos on trombone. This time I moved up front and that proved a good move as the set was great. One of the very best of the three days, with each performer doing something I just loved along the way.

Then came a shorter set with Andy Moor, Terrie Ex, and Ian from Api Uiz. Complete change of mood there, three guitars and full speed mayhem, and I mean that in a good way.

Then Anne-James Chaton read three of his “events”. I didn’t like that much, as usual. I’m fine with hearing one, but then it’s just too much of the same, with that monotone reading and a booming loop of a short phrase as background.

Api Uiz delivered a good set, even though there were some awkward pauses. They were joined halfway by Emma Fisher who painted on sheet of papers taped to the wall. Fun, but it must have been hard on them because of the smell. I think I would have enjoyed it more in another setting, though. It was markedly different from the rest of the sets, and a bit too predictable. Then again, that comes from familiarity.

Afework Negussie again did a solo set before being joined by Clayton Thomas, Katherina Ex and Andy Moor. It was too close to the sets of the previous days, which means good but I was really spoiled at that point.

For a fitting finale, The Ex started alone, then were joined by Wolter Wierbos and Clayton Thomas, with Christine Sehnaoui and Anne-James Chaton added for in the event. Again, it was a high intensity set, which more than made up for the occasional slips. They performed some songs that they already had the previous days, but that’s fine with me as they were favorites.

January 20, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

January 17th, 2008: The Ex & guests

@instants chavirés

Second day. Why go again? Different sets, different people, and new combinations of people that were here the day before. About five sets this time, even though it’s not really that clear cut.

First came Andy Moor, Anne-James Chaton and Colin McLean. At least I was told the latter was there, I didn’t see him; I guess he was seated in a corner, I’m too small to see that. I was fearing the worst, having been bored before by Chaton’s reading of ATM tickets or such. But it turned out OK, even real good at times, thanks in part to Andy Moor, but even the layering of snippets of speech did work on its own.

Then Terrie Ex did a short solo set, a pedal to the metal affair that changed the mood of the evening to a punkier, messier one for a while.

Then a composite “set”, or maybe three of them, go figure. First it was just Katherina Ex and Christine Sehnaoui. Good mix once it got started, really different style meshing and converging while keeping clearly separate. Then Afework Negussie did a few songs on his own, before being joined by Katherina Ex and Christine Sehnaoui. Problem was that I couldn’t hear much of what the latter was doing, it was just drowned out, and that got worse when Clayton Thomas and Andy Moor joined them for the last song of the set. It was dynamic and pretty good, but I think I liked yesterday’s set better.

Two guys from Api Uiz — no drums — did a very short set, more like one song, then left the stage to Clayton Thomas on double bass, Wolter Wierbos on trombone, and G.W. Sok on vocals. Wierbos was impressively good; that set was closer to the regular improvisation sets I’m used to, and proved very interesting.

I would say the final set — The Ex without any guest tonight — was even more on the punk side than the first night. Maybe that was just me being closer to the stage for a while; but I doubt it. So that tops the previous day as the most energetic performance I ever saw them deliver. I can’t wait for the final evening.

January 18, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

January 16th, 2008: The Ex & guests / ZEA

@instants chavirés

First gig of the year. Actually it was day one of a three-day series of concerts curated by The Ex. I originally planned to go only on Friday, but I was getting restless with my not having been to a single gig in close to one month. So now I might just go to all three. It was that good.

The first set featured Terrie Ex, Andy Moor and Christine Sehnaoui. The guitars were often close to the dueling moments of many The Ex concerts, but the saxophone added a nice twist. In return, the more melodic bend of the guitars — as well as the louder sound — made her play in a more assertive way than the last time I saw her. A good thing for me because it was different, and because I’m getting weary of the barely audible whispers of that Lebanese improv scene.

Then it was ZEA, a duo from the Netherlands. Guitar/voice and keyboard/electronics, kind of a bouncing pop with an edge. I was not expecting much from a couple of videos I had seen while checking out the lineups, but I was pleasantly surprised. Energetic and far more interesting than expected. Maybe that break just proved good for me, making me more open.

The third set started with Afework Negussie alone on voice and Masenqo, a single string bowed instrument with a square resonator. I’m really coming to dig Ethiopian music these days, so I enjoyed this a lot. Even more so when he was joined by Clayton Thomas on double bass and especially Katherina Ex. I just love her play, so the combination was just gravy to me.

And finally The Ex took the stage, featuring Colin McLean — former member of Dog Faced Hermans — who just got me on his side from the start by wearing a Public Enemy T-shirt. As usual, they were great. The smaller venue probably played a part in my feeling that set was the most intense of the few times I’ve seen them so far. Short, but very good indeed. So how could I just go home and miss the other two now?

January 17, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , | Leave a comment