Gigs, dance, art

August 13th, 2009: Oneida / Alexander Tucker


August is again a boring month for me as I’m stuck in Paris with gigs few and far between. At least this one made up for that in quality. Final Fantasy was supposed to play as well, but he was sick and had to cancel. The silver lining being that Oneida got to play longer, which most especially welcome as I had not seen them for over four years. Another bad side of this situation was that the audience was quite sparse, always a worrying development when a band I love does stop here.

But first things first, Alexander Tucker opened with a pretty good set, on his own with a guitar and a bunch of pedals. I don’t like his voice much, but that wasn’t really an issue. Each song followed the same pattern, starting with a-little-too-nice guitar picking then some bowing on a smaller one, then voice and guitar but with feedback this time. The cool thing is that all of these were looped so that there was a definite buildup in sound throughout each song, concluding with a much harsher ending when he would play the pedals and effects in a pretty much noise way. I totally like this approach and pattern, but having each song develop the same way made it a little too predictable. I really liked his performance nonetheless — not surprising with my love for such layering — because he mixed very different sound styles in that buildup, each distinct for a while before joining the rest in a slowly evolving whole that remained consistent and interesting into the cathartic endings. I think the whole made the parts better, and I was just impressed by one moment when a voice loop would interact with his singing in beautiful ways that I think were just too great to have been random happenstance. This guy sure knows what he’s doing.

Then it was time for Oneida at last. There were five of them, while the last time I saw them there were only three — shows how long ago that was. I recognized one of the “new” faces as being in the Ex-Models — another band I’d love to hear live again — and even though I’m sure I’ve seen the other one before I can’t place him. To get the bitching out of the way, I thought the sound didn’t do them justice, because the keyboards were just too low, basically drowned out by the guitars, and that’s a total shame. I spent a while roaming in vain to find a more balanced spot. That didn’t stop the performance from being great, just makes me eager to see them again in better conditions. Which will probably take a while because these people need day jobs and can’t afford to tour faraway places. The fact that their great music isn’t appreciated enough for them to live from it is just plain wrong.

They did long tunes for the most part — which takes some of the bite out of those “only two more” announcements — and kept it intense all the way. Kid Millions is such an amazingly relentless drummer, but really they’re all relentless in some way, and that’s a big part of their appeal as a live band. Despite being mixed so low, the organist had a memorable moment when his keyboard slipped to an angle and he didn’t skip a beat. There was a quite krautrockish quality to the music, with those long hypnotic pieces, but their relentlessness made that a little bit different, and actually better as far as I’m concerned. I’ve held them to be one of my favorite live bands for a while now, and this time just strengthened my opinion. I do love their records — and their stop here gave me an opportunity to catch up a little on that front, and Rated O is really good — but hearing them live is the real thing.

I got a chance to chat with both guitar players and they’re just good people to boot. I did spend some time lobbying for a Knyfe Hyts show in these Bob-forsaken parts, both to Shahin and locals with some potentially useful connections, but that seems like a long shot. Back to summer boredom now.

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

July 29th, 2009: Psychedelic Desert / Robert Engelbrecht / Eddie 135 / Buffet Froid


Four completely different sets in that gig, which this something I appreciate a lot.

Buffet Froid started with a free improv set, but those two quote-unquote prepared guitars left be unconvinced. There were some ideas, though maybe a little too heavily expounded. But I had the uncomfortable impression they were not listening enough to each other, some communication failure that spoiled a lot for me.

First contrast with Eddie 135, who formed a cohesive unit. I had never heard them before for some reason, and I was expecting something more noisish, based on their pile of electronics and effects. But that was something else, with a fast pulse giving a structure and base to some hints of variations and interferences. The set was too short for me to figure it out much, so I plan to hear them again now that I have an idea of what to look for.

Yet another style with Robert Engelbrecht performing Phill Niblock’s 3 to 7 – 196. Cello with additional recorded cello layers of more than 30 minutes of powerful and compelling contemporary music. Totally great in my opinion, a sensory experience with more than meets the ear. My favorite set of the evening, with a music strong enough to make the setting irrelevant.

Finally, Psychedelic Desert pretty much lived up to the first half of their name — with the less than numerous attendance providing the second. The beginning and end were good enough if pretty much what I expected from a Japanese psychedelic band, but I just loved the middle part with the singer/bass player on her own. There was something just off enough in the rhythm of the bass and the tone of the voice to make that part fascinating for me.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

July 28th, 2009: Kasper T. Toeplitz / Gerome Nox / Cécile Babiole / Ursula / Couleur


Catching up after a busy week during which I actually spent more time drinking than sleeping. So there are gonna confused notes. A free gig with seven acts, though I missed the last two in a misguided and fruitless attempt to catch the last train.

I finally got to hear Couleur, a project featuring Strom Varx and Alexandre Bellenger. They went topical, but luckily they settled on the moon landing instead of MJ. The laptop was drowning out the guitar at times, but not too much overall. Cool rocket racket at first, then it settled down — a little too much in my opinion. But the performance took off again with better balance. Speaking of balance, I thought it was both written and open, and gave me the feeling this project could get better.

Some nice textures from Ursula, with a nice roughness. On the other hand, I didn’t get the way the set unfolded, maybe because I liked the beginning quite a lot and felt the rest didn’t exactly keep up with that. But the sounds themselves had a lot going for them.

Cecile Babiole‘s set was my favorite. Maybe because of the way the plane and helicopter sounds tied in with the first set into a kind of Airbone Event. I’m quite fond of this stuff, and she had the additional appeal of being someone I had never heard before. These sounds may usually be noise pollution, but she built some actual music out of this material. The helicopter recording obviously felt rhythmic at times, but not always, and that alone shows that the original sound was turned into something else by its surroundings.

At first I was quite disappointed by Gerome Nox‘ set, because it was too much what I was expecting from him. But I really liked the second half or so of the set. Not that it was that different, but there was something more compelling to it, though I can’t exactly pinpoint what.

I missed the first few minutes of Kasper T. Toeplitz set, and here I fought the setting didn’t help getting into the music. I had not heard him in a while, and remember liking that last set a lot, so it was a bit of a letdown. I blame myself for failing to get his point, as I never got focused enough, so I’ll try to make up for it next time.

August 2, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , | Leave a comment