Gigs, dance, art

May 25th, 2009: Clinic / Phosphorescent / Papier Tigre

@café de la danse

Papier Tigre puzzled me a little, though it’s just my age showing. Drums, two guitars and voice — the lack of bass didn’t help me — and a music that sounded alien to me. I mean it was more mainstream that anything I’ve heard lately, I guess in a “Indie” way, but I just couldn’t figure out what they were aiming for. I did like a couple of song, usually with more drums, but for the most it was so out of my frame of reference I was just left out. To each his own, it’s just not my kind of tiger.

Phosphorescent was more familiar, in a loosely urban country way. A little tame at times, and I just didn’t care much for the singer’s voice, but there was songs I liked in there, though not all. Anyway, it’s a genre I wish I had more opportunities to hear, so it was nice enough. Especially in the slower sounds, I do think they could throw in some pedal steel, which is not a criticism of the guitar player who did a very good job.

I was here for Clinic, especially because I still clearly remember the only time I had seen them before, seven years ago. I don’t know if that was because of rosy tinted memories, the venue, the heat, or just their being seven years older too, but the show didn’t reach the intensity and energy of that old show. But I still like the music and the singer’s voice quite a bit, and the relentlessness was there more often that not, but sometimes weirdly mellower. Still a pretty cool show, once I had let go of my old timer expectations. I guess I would have been really disappointed if they had not evolved at all, and they did stay true to their identity while expanding their range, which is a good thing in my opinion. Granted, they were no longer jumping around, but hey, neither was I.

May 30, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment

May 23rd, 2009: Opera Mort / Talibam! / Mesa Of The Lost Women / Bülanz Orgabar / Erik Minnkinen / Damien Schultz


Maybe that computer crash was some kind of karmic payback for my lack of focus that day, as I managed to be enough of a chatterbox to miss the whole of the set by Keränen with Evil Moisture. And half of Erik Minnkinen’s as well.

First things first, a shout out to who made this happen.

Damien Schultz went first, and even though I liked the previous time I’d seen him better, I think I now found a way to get it. I kinda ignore the words — though that’s hard at times because of the tricks he plays with those — and take it as some rhythmic music. And it’s pretty good. I came back into the room about halfway through Erik Minnkinen‘s set, so I missed a lot. More expected than the last time around — with the radio — but still good enough to make me mend my ways — and mentally kick myself — and make sure I’d not miss more of this show.

Bülanz Orgabar were in surprisingly efficient mood. That set was quite different from the other times I heard them, in that they sounded closer to a regular experimentalish band. That’s still far from mainstream, but the lack of surprises was the main surprise, and I missed the way they can as it were fall yet hit the ground running, taking a leap of faith out of whatever is closer to safe in their book.

Mesa of the Lost Women had brought along Jac Berrocal and Cathy Heyden. I had never heard of Cathy Heyden, and I really liked her play, maybe not matching the core duo in pure energy but just as intense and more interesting for me. Jac Berrocal was his usual self, which these days tends to be overacting the drunkard part, but just when I gave up on him he would rise and let out something spot on and arresting. That not only shows that trumpet is not a prop, but that he had been listening all along. I just wish he would cut a little on the side show, because as good as some of his burst were, he could easily have brought more, and the act did get stale a while ago for me.

I really liked Talibam! this time. They were on their own, and pretty much did their thing, but there was something more than their usual intensity. It’s been a while and even then I would have been unable to say whether that something is a richer music or being more in tune with the place and audience. Probably both, as my main gripe with them so far had been that it sometimes sounded like a well defined and somewhat closed system, and now I think they seem confident enough to bring other stuff in, and to adapt their game plan to whatever is around, both in terms of setting and people around them. Maybe hearing them play with Chatham and Pauvros just made me pay attention to something that had been there in the first place, it’s probably actually a bit of both.

To top it off, Opera Mort. And top it off they did. Totally my favorite set by them, and also of this show overall. The right thing at the right time in the right place. It was intense, driven, and just plain fun. I was about to say “I think they finally made good on their talk about bringing it on”, but that’s totally off the mark as far as I’m concerned. It just feels wrong, because “think” is quite alien to my actual experience just then; “enjoy” would ring truer, but it just falls short. It was an exhilarating experience, with stress on “experience”. Which I hope I’ll be able to do again soon.

May 29, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May 22nd, 2009: Matmos / Fraction

@café de la danse

A major computer meltdown in these very busy days kept me unable to write early enough, and the accumulation of other stuff means my memories are already not so crisp. So it’s gonna be a short one.

A single guy on laptop, Fraction had his moments, especially in the second half or so of his set. I thought the first half remained too long on the same ideas, so it got a bit stale after a while. But I did like the second, it felt just more diverse and with some real creativity at work. I don’t remember anything specific by now, but I had been slipping close to boredom and that brought me back firmly.

Matmos delivered a great set, again managing to balance interesting intricacies with an appealing rhythm and of course arresting samples and sounds. The gimmicky concrete moment used a twelve sided dice — appealing to my inner nerd — and was predicably good. This was my fourth time seeing them live and possibly my favorite, maybe because I had kept track lately and it all sounded new and fresh to me. I’m not sure that the venue was all that appropriate though. Their music does have a brainy side, but those seats quickly felt like a nuisance, because there’s a more immediate physical side to it as well, and I think it’s just as strong. These guys are proof one smart and cool are not mutually exclusive.

May 29, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

May 20th, 2009: Metalking / Headwar / Lionel Fernandez

@instants chavires

First time I saw Lionel Fernandez on his own, and in a way it was almost exactly what I expected of him yet not a disappointing set. It did sound very close to what I expected from a third of Sister Iodine, but the interesting part is that I guess I didn’t give him enough credit for the overall sound of that project. I do like Minkkinen better, but his solo set brought home that he’s responsible for more of the interesting thing in that one that I thought. Too loud and assertive for me though, in that it got in the way at times, especially in the beginning. I thought the set ran maybe five or ten minutes too long in that it ran out of steam toward the end, but nonetheless pretty good and eye-opening.

Headwar took a while getting really started in my opinion, but they do have something going there. I think they’re at their best in their most punk moments, provided they stray a little from the canon. I mean they’re very good at the high energy stuff, but it would be a waste to let the other things they can do fall by the wayside. The little twists make it interesting, whether it’s a repetitive keyboard riff or the bass player hitting some drums for a while. These moments had me liking half the songs a lot, but then the other half didn’t strike that balance and sounded either too run-of-the-mill punkish or too artyish to me. Half real good is more than I expected based on what I remembered of them, and just good enough period.

Metalking is basically some noisish sounds with some film with lense and speed changes thrown in. The good side was that both elements were related but slavishly so, with enough leeway to avoid being monodimensional, yet it was quite obvious neither would have been the same on its own. As far as I’m concerned, it was nonetheless a bit too predictable, though they avoided the most obvious pitfalls. I guess I was a lost cause anyway because I much prefer digital videos to the analog stuff. Makes no sense when put together with my fondness for tape, but that’s just the way it is. I couldn’t get beyond that particular barrier.

May 23, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment

May 19th, 2009: Peeping Tom – Le Jardin


I’m not fond of the theater/dance mix generally, but Peeping Tom is different because I like the dance part a lot, and because the theater part is not really separate, and the dance tells part of the story without being illustrative. More like having characters fleshed out through movement, which I do like a lot. And this time they had Simon Versnel on stage, whose presence and charisma are enough to make me enjoy the plain theater part. I probably would even go and see a theater show to see this actor perform. Too bad he doesn’t seem to be involved in their next show, but I’ll be there anyway.

I didn’t care much for the movie that took up the first half of the show though, apart from its featuring Sam Louwyck, who I like a lot for his ability to be believably mundane yet reaching into almost surrealistic nonsense.

The show itself ended up being my favorite of the three parts of this trilogy, because the dance had a lot of just brilliant flashes. Simon Versnel spent most of the show reminiscing about his character’s past through long lists, Franck Chartier managed to flesh out a character part detached and silent, part demanding and intense through dance only, while Gabriela Carrizo mixed some acting with some wonderful instants of pure dance. This mixing of techniques was done so perfectly I can only wish more managed to reach this balance; that would change my mind about this whole theater/dance thing.

The pure dance part I liked best was when Carrizo jumped throwing her arms back, an arresting image. Another favorite was in the sequences where the couple would fall toward each other in a kiss that was nonetheless a fall. And also the opening rolling around with occasional reaching upward by Chartier. All these were pure dance yet defined the characters in the theater aspect, that’s how they brought both worlds together for me. Of course my interpretation of what these meant for the characters is most likely totally off base, but I don’t mind that. It might be a misunderstanding of the creators’ intention, but I’m used to be running away with my own take on what they put out for me to see. I know of no other way.

May 23, 2009 Posted by | Dance | , | Leave a comment

May 18th, 2009: ID M Theft Able – Audrey Chen / Erik Minkkinen / Suicide Motörhead / Simon Queheillard / Chrisanthemes Forever

@espace en cours

Chrisanthemes Forever actually did two short sets outside, with the second one halfway through the event. I couldn’t really see much of what they were using, but I guess that included zither, toy piano, harmonica and some recorded snippets. I was told there was a cool visual side to their act, but I’m just too vertically challenged for that part. I thought it was uneven, with some parts I couldn’t make much sense of but with a few very nice moments as well. It felt fresh and unpretentious, with tips the balance to these sets being strongly on the good side.

Simon Queheillard used an acoustic guitar in a very interesting way. Part of the appeal was in the small motor he used on the strings most of the time, yielding something between picking and ebow that was really good and new to me, and enhanced by the way he would enhance or cut short the resonating by the way he held his instrument. All this could easily have been an empty display of mastery, but he put those sound generating skills to good use by weaving some actual good music from these materials. I don’t think I had heard him before — though he could easily have been part of a project I did see — but he seems to be someone I might want to keep an eye out for.

Acts like Suicide Motörhead are always dicey for me because the performance art side of it just goes way over my head — not seeing much of that sure didn’t help. The tape playing looked promising, but even though it had its moment I felt it was running in circles a little bit, and dragged on more than was necessary. I just can’t know whether it made sense for the people up front who could see what was going on.

Erik Minkkinen used effects and a radio, and of course the latter had me very interested. I like his guitar playing a lot, but that was something a little different which proved just as interesting. It’s all about sound for me, and the source matters less than what he does with it. That was a pretty good set, with some parts more about pure sound transformation and warping, and some others almost rhythmic — though that might be a stretch. Inventive and both consistent with what I’ve heard of his music as well as with a slightly different feel from the change of material. Even though I have a pretty good general idea of what he will sound like, there are enough twists on that baseline to keep me interested in what he’s doing.

Audrey Chen and ID M Theft Able played last and I just loved their set. Both were very adept at using the full range of possibilities that voice can have, enhanced by complementary sounds from a little effects and more. For Audrey Chen that meant her cello, which she used both conventionally and less though, dragging some ballish thing along its back to generate a rich drone. For the other it was scratching and rubbing sounds and bowing a license plate. For me the voices were key and the most interesting component, but the rest was quite good as well. I liked Audrey Chen better, both for her wider range of voice sounds and for the unusual instrument in these parts. But ID M Theft Able was really just as good, even though I thought he the license plate thing a bit too often. Then again, that’s not a big deal because the best thing about this set was that I thought each enhanced what the other was doing. That takes some listening, which I always appreciate.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May 16th, 2009: Elsie Else Festival

@instants chavirés

I’m running so late in posting this, from a combination of being busy on all fronts and also some mixed feelings toward this blogging thing. I guess I’ll just catch up fast and take it from there.

Just like last year, I really liked the Elsie Else festival because it featured pretty diverse acts, a lot of which were quite different from the music I usually listen too. And just like last year, Toba was again my favorite. I don’t really know why, as her music is not my usual experimental fare. Maybe part of the reason is that even though it’s far more immediately accessible than that, there’s still enough going on beyond that surface. Anyway, I love her music, do I need a reason? Far too often lately, I feel I’ve been overthinking it, and needed some intellectual appreciation to like a show — that comes with some of the territory. So I’m a bit relieved to be able to just like music without reason or justification. Then again, maybe I should analyze it a little, a convenient excuse to be on the lookout for another show.

I guess I was not in a thinking mood anyway, because I didn’t put up any kind of fight to get into Bird and Bear‘s music, though I did appreciate it more than last year. Nicely done, but just not my kind of thing, just too nice and poppy for me. For no good reason at all, I was expecting something more extreme from 12 Dog Cycle, probably from reading about Alice Hui-Sheng Chang‘s “extended vocal technique”. It was actually quite subdued and interesting, especially in how the voice would interact with the music. A bit too short actually, maybe because she didn’t really step in early enough. Worth checking out again.

DinahBird‘s was my second favorite set, closer maybe to some of the stuff I’m used to, and with a polished quality that somehow didn’t bother me at all. Diverse elements put together that I’m used to hear in different contexts. Again I wouldn’t have minded that set lasting longer, so I’d like to hear her again. That set probably didn’t help me to like the next one, as Jean-Philippe Renoult sounded far too close to things I’ve heard before, with a seriousness about it that just didn’t sit well with the rest of the event for me and just put me off.

Un escargot vide? delivered a set that was consistent with last year’s, again with children voices but I just liked it better, for some reason I didn’t focus as much on the annoying element these are for me, and the rest was pretty good. Missed the likembe though. The sheer number of acts was taking it’s toll as well, it probably would have taken something more unusual than ZRL to get my attention at this point. The final set brought Sonic Surgeon and Futsukayoi Kaprikorn together, and that was a nice move in that they are quite different. Sonic Surgeon worked more with voice and effects, with a definitely punk flavor nonetheless, and that contrasted with the video game sounds quite nicely. I felt it didn’t quite reach its potential though, but again it had been a long day — and week, and month — so I was probably burned out.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment