Gigs, dance, art

February 24th, 2009: Aaron Moore – Alan Courtis / Salmigondis / Capricorn Band


Pretty diverse gig, with different styles. First was yet another one of Erik Minkkinen’s projects, Capricorn Band, with Jérôme Lori. I like this one, part familiar, part new. The most unusual element may have been an actual beat, and a quite synthetic sound that brought a welcome twist to the familiar noise. That set alone was enough to make me glad I joined the crowd and showed up.

My second chance at hearing Salmigondis, but I didn’t like it as much as the first. Still good, but I knew what to expect and that probably didn’t help. Fun set nonetheless, and the almost throwback nature of that band is nice to hear, with its mix of diverse elements and a good natured eagerness that made my initial mild letdown irrelevant. It didn’t reach the intensity of the first I saw them, but maybe their being so many in a small place didn’t help. Anyway I’ll hear them again soon, so maybe I’ll figure out how to listen to them then.

The final set featured Aaron Moore from Volcano the Bear and Alan Courtis, and I thought it took a long time to get going. The first part had Moore drumming in a rockish way with Courtis pretty much going along. My problem with it was that it stayed that way for a long time, and not much was happening then, with was a letdown because of what they can do. They eventually found their groove though, Moore letting the drums go and opening a much more satisfying second half of the set. A bit predictable in its trajectory from the steady opening toward the unsettled, but they’re good enough at this to make the set get better as it unfolded. The end was really good, but I think I liked the middle part better because Courtis kinda took over at the end, and that earlier part was more balanced, with quite a lot happening. Even though some of these attempts didn’t quite work out, I thought there was more chance taking then. But to tell the truth I probably would have been disappointed without the final section.

The place was quite packed, and even though it’s small, that’s good news because such a success probably means there should be another good gig happening sooner rather than later.

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment

February 22nd, 2009: Arnaud Rivière / Api Uiz / Ero Babaa / Opera Mort


Most of the regulars showed up and more, which is good for the fine people responsible. It had been a while since I attended a kliton gig, but I intend to break that pattern. That one was to kick off the tour that will see Api Uiz and Ero Babaa set fire to Germany — it’s actually halfway through by now, I’ve been slow updating this thing.

I got my second chance at hearing Opéra Mort — this time without hearing troubles. It was well worth the expectation, and justified my aggravation at having that set spoiled back then. What I like most about them is that they throw in unusual elements in their noisish brew. Like rhythmic loops, not an important part of the mix, but the touch of spice that made it all the more satisfying to me. And processed voice will get my vote every time, even though they went light on that ingredient. I really liked this set a lot, and thanks to él-g and Jo T. for that one.

Then it was back to the usual suspects, with a twist because Ero Babaa actually went quiet and almost sane for a while. Of course that went out the window before the end of the set, but a surprise from people I’ve heard so often is always welcome. And I liked the way they just cut their set out abruptly. I think that makes total sense, even though that sounds weird applied to them — in a good way, like if I said Kenny G. made sense, though that’s not really gonna happen.

Api Uiz will probably be bitching about the many breaks and technical difficulties, but it didn’t really matter. There even was a good side to it, in that they had the opportunity to display several times how they can go to full speed instantly. Many things in their music are common with other bands out of that particular Bordeaux scene, and that’s exclusively for the best. There’s all this uncompromising energy that never crosses over to the sanctimonious. As good an entry point as any to the wonderful world of les potagers natures, and even though I still like Chocolat Billy best — I just could not resist the name-dropping — they’re too good to miss one of their gigs in these parts: instantly engaging but with more underneath if you want to delve deeper.

I was afraid hearing Arnaud Rivière on quote-unquote turntable again so soon would be boring, but it was totally different. Much rougher than his take with eRikm and Jean-Philippe Gross earlier this week. The percussive element brought by banging stuff was there, but put to another, far less regular use. And the mixing board part was closer to the mind-blowing stuff I know he can pull off. Not that good in my opinion this time, but close enough to make the performance a good one, in an edgy hungry way I hadn’t heard from him in a while. Maybe be not his best in and of itself — I’ve heard him so many times I definitely am getting picky — but the spirit was a reassuring proof of wide open tomorrows. He’s definitely neither afraid nor complacent, and that’s more than enough to make want to hear what’s next. He’s off to Israel for a few gigs today, if you’re over there catch him if you can, and don’t shy away from talking to the guy after the show, especially if you’re a composer/musician yourself. He’s very open-minded and is confident enough to stray out of his particular path.

February 25, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

February 20th, 2009: John Wiese / Clayton Thomas

instants chavirés

Clayton Thomas was the main reason I showed up, what he did when part of the The Ex special early last year was reason enough to attend this gig. Some people were disappointed — I’m to blame for part of that — but I was not. For most of his set he sounded very close to what some people could do with laptops. But to me the difference was in the overtones that he would get with enough persistence from his bass. I’m ready to concede the lack of objective worth of these overtones. To me, they meant a lot, and were the reason why I loved his set, especially when he went frog-picking with a swelling background of deeper overtones.

Then again, I don’t know much if anything, and John Wiese brings out the learned ones. I actually liked the second half of his set, only to be chastened by the knowing ones about how the first half was worth much more. I still liked the second half better, good noise sounds throughout but I did pick up the trajectory in that half, and that meant a lot. Which is a roundabout way to say that I blame myself for not getting the first half.

February 21, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

WFMU 2009 Marathon


It’s that time of the year again, and the best radio station ever needs your support. The station is listener funded, which means that all the amazing stuff available on the air and on the net is made possible by people like you and me putting their money where their ears are once a year.

Then there’s also the exposure they give to people who don’t have agents, managers and record labels to bring them to you. I know second-hand that they actively seek out those and contact them to ask for records to play. I mean I actually know someone who got an email from Brian Turner asking for records out of the blue, and another who sent his records unprompted actually got not just airplay but also ended up on a few “best of the year” DJ lists. The station is the real deal, no question about that.

They could have gone the way of requiring a paying membership to access their shows, archives and podcasts, and the soon-to-be-launched Free Music Archive, but instead they put it all up for free, never aired current advertising — aircheck of those are a different story, and Kenny G is something else again — and generally made great things happen with only us to back them up. Us meaning me and you, if you ever had your mind blown away by their programming. If you haven’t yet, head over there and take a listen. It might take a while, but it definitely will happen.

So now is the time to give something back, and that means pledging money to make the station go on for another year. And as if what you already got wasn’t enough, they even throw in some great handpicked comps as additional incentives — those are technically know as DJ premiums — and other goodies. $75 for a CDR sounds steep, but wake up and figure out that what you already get for free is worth much more, and getting hold of what’s on these would cost much more. Anyway, it’s totally besides the point. I rest my case, do whatever you want, I’ll do the same, which probably going for the booster level. That’s how much the station means to me, for those who keep track of such things. You don’t have to be as insane desperate dedicated as I am, every single $15 donation helps the cause.

More cogent explanations over here, but why not skip that and just do the right thing already.

February 21, 2009 Posted by | Life, Music | | Leave a comment

February 18th, 2009: Arnaud Rivière – eRikm – Jean-Philippe Gross

@instants chavirés

I didn’t have any expectations for this gig. The only time I heard Jean-Philippe Gross was with a lot of others, so I don’t really know what he does. I think eRikm is better when he plays with people with a very different approach, but I didn’t know what this particular lineup would yield. And even though I’ve heard Arnaud Rivière many times, he was usually playing solo or with other familiar faces.

The bottom line is I did like both sets, but there was a frustrating side to it because I think I could have enjoyed it more. Overall I just heard Arnaud Rivière too much, but I suspect it’s part because I know him better and thus follow him more easily and part because he had the rhythmic part all to himself which made him stand out even more. Especially during the first set, there were times when I had to make an special effort to pay attention to the others. But that was not true throughout, because each had opportunities to take the lead in some loose sense, while the others would be more subdued for a while. There also were some very nice loud parts, nice because there was a real balance and dense texture there.

I think I liked the second set better, with Arnaud Rivière on electronic drums instead of turntable and mixing board — even though I usually like him better in the latter setup. I thought it was more balanced than the first, and I especially liked the beginning, with some regular music in the background and each one kinda playing on a different layer, so that they were both distinct and forming a richly textured whole. It got louder then and the separateness gave way to more buildup and interactions closer to the first set, again with maybe the drums standing out a bit too much. Well, I think that’s just because eRikm and Jean-Philippe Gross have closer sounds, and I probably wouldn’t even think of complaining about it if there had not been those moments of fragile balance that made the performance special.

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment

February 13th, 2009: Josef Nadj – Entracte

@théatre de la ville

Again, I was quite to close to the stage, but it didn’t matter all that much, because there were only four dancers. Still, I’m sure some of the effect was lost because of it, but I guess my familiarity with his style helped me to compensate for that. I’m not sure, but the very first contemporary dance show I ever saw may have been one of his, and that was back in 1992. So I can say I see more in Josef Nadj‘s work than in others’. Looking at his web site I saw he does a performance with Sophie Agnel, Phil Minton and Roger Turner. I would definitely love to see that.

Josef has been using music in a very interesting way lately, again this time with Akosh Szelevényi and three others musicians on stage, two on double bass and two on percussion, the latter including Akosh S. who also played saxophone despite having a bandage finger on his left hand — maybe that’s why the show started almost one hour late. The music isn’t really separate, and it never gets in the way, more like a partner to dance, one could probably set it apart, but why bother? It all seems meant to work as a unit, and it actually does, without one being tied to the other. Pretty much the way musicians can perform together.

There was a lot of familiar elements in the dance itself, with those almost mechanical gestures in the beginning, this sense of strain and animal energy. This was replaced along the way by more fluid motion, and a interactions that had more peace and acceptance that usual. Of course there was also a lot of props and tricks, with even more arresting images, pieces of visual art in motion, making use of diverse forms and materials including paint, shadows, saws, flowers or mirrors. And overall managing to be both made of short sequences with separate identities and totally consistent as a flowing unit.

Again, it had a dreamlike quality in its evocative images, yet also was immediately physical, and that probably was why the grotesquely thin cyclops were not any more strange than the black clad dancers. It’s not as much that it made sense as that it felt right. That’s probably a benefit of knowing my way around his work, definitely worth the time even though it’s just blind luck. I think it can be appreciated without the experience, but I can also understand why some people are confused. But even though a lot of elements are not dance proper, I think that the core of this show remains dance itself. Not that such a classification is relevant at the end of the day.

February 17, 2009 Posted by | Dance | , , | Leave a comment

February 12th, 2009: L’autopsie a révélé que la mort était due à l’autopsie

@instants chavirés

Another gig without an opening band, which is not ideal for me. But I guess I’m lucky enough because, again, I liked the single act enough not to miss another one. And this time both sets were different enough to sound like different bands, even though there was a common feel to both that united them unmistakably. They say on their page that their name didn’t fit in the form, I can’t believe they were surprised by this development.

The first set made use of a lot of effects with diverse sound sources including samples, a couple of records, some weird instruments and even a recorder. Long tunes that were close but with some variations. Usually there was a quite narrow band of sound being explored thoroughly, in a way a little reminiscent of drones but without any actual drone being used. Pretty interesting despite the seeming limitations of the form.

The second set features guitars, bass and drums, and its loudness and energy didn’t prevent it from being close in spirit to the first. And any thought of a more mainstream rock set was soone dispelled by the relentless repetitions. So, again, it was a base sound slowly evolving, and I liked it better than the first because it was a fun way to transfer their thing to a different genre, defeating expectations and going close to some of the most extreme krautrock, but actually further on the experimental side. A good one.

February 15, 2009 Posted by | Music | | Leave a comment