Gigs, dance, art

October 22nd, 2010: Tetuzi Akiyama / Jozef Van Wissem / Chris Forsyth / Quentin Dubost

@espace en cours

I think I may have been more receptive to what Quentin Dubost is doing. Still the same bowing high on the neck and flicking the sound off and on, but I liked it better. I was focused enough to catch some of the smaller events. But I still feel there’s something missing and it gets predictable after a while. Or maybe that’s because his moving to a higher string once in a while had too much of a system in it. Nice, but I think I won’t be as interested if he does the same thing the next time I hear him.

Chris Forsyth went with a much louder and regular sound, with some easily followed almost pounding foundation on which to build something more adventurous. But not all that much in my opinion. Again, a little too much of the same thing, though done quite well.

I was there for Jozef Van Wissem, and it was worth it, easily my favorite set of the evening. I’m sure a lot of that had to do with his instrument, a lute does stand out. But I also liked what he was doing with it, it never got too elaborate or sophisticated, keeping some urgency despite being finely wrought at times. A very nice balance that put his unusual instrument to good use without relying on the novelty. Well maybe except when he stood for a rock guitarist pose, but that was a light jest that didn’t outlast its welcome.

Tetuzi Akiyama went acoustic, and had the most diverse set of the four, mixing almost too cute stuff with more blatantly experimental forays. Maybe I was getting tired, but I couldn’t get beyond a merely intellectual appreciation of his skill for most of the set. Get some, miss some. I liked the set better at the end though.

A common thread was that the sets were pretty much focused on one or two things, but on the whole the show was better than its parts, because the sets and their sounds were widely different, while sharing something in their outlook. I’m glad I came, even though I missed Api Uiz and Coupe Coupe.


October 26, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

October 21st, 2010: Triolex

@instants chavirés

Triolex is one of the project of Luc Ex, and also features Phil Minton, Tristan Honsinger, and Serigne McGueye. I usually like what Luc Ex does, and I was eager to finally see Tristan Honsinger play. But I’m not a fan of Phil Minton, so that kept my expectations in check.

As usual, Phil Minton was too prominent for my taste, but he had some great dialogues with Tristan Honsinger, especially late in the first set and for most of the second. That was good, but also a limit, because I felt the other two were a bit left behind. I didn’t hear Luc Ex do much in the first set, but Serigne McGueye dropped hints now and then that were pretty much not picked up by the two old timers. They did have something good going, but I think they proved their point had would have had time to include the others more instead of going over the same things twice.

As for the encore, Honsinger’s white man dance was done in a right spirit, but I’m not sure I’m happy to have seen that.

October 24, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

October 20th, 2010: Vladimir Pankov – La Noce


First time in about ten years I went and saw a play. With the emphasis Théatre de la Ville now puts on theater, I thought I would try a couple and see if my dislike faded with age. I can’t say yet. I liked this, but it was not conventional theater, and my liking had a lot to do with the musicians on stage.

And of course I had to buy in with the early extract from Stravinski’s Wedding, which may be my favorite work in classical music. It was rendered very nicely, maybe not percussive enough but more than making up for it in power. And the voices were great. I think it requires singers to get closer to popular songs than opera, and they nailed that perfectly. The play only featured two short extracts, but they were great.

It wasn’t conventional because of the many songs, and also because the words were repeated many times, both in Russian and Belarusian. And there was also the trick of having three actors playing the same character — three such sets in all. The plot was quite thin and not the point for me, so that didn’t bother me at all, quite the opposite. I’m too ignorant to say anything about the acting, but I really enjoyed the show and its mix of many things. And I’ve seen dance shows with just as much talk and less dance, so I don’t think I should pay much attention to labels. But there was clearly a story, and they conveyed it. The translation helped, of course, but it didn’t get all that far. The actors added bits that were not in the text, and that part didn’t need any translating.

I’m still doubting I can like theater, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of what SounDrama is doing.

October 24, 2010 Posted by | Theater | , , | Leave a comment

October 16th, 2010: Das Synthetische Mischgewebe / Benjamin Thigpen / Emmanuel Mieville

@instants chavirés

Emmanuel Mieville‘s set was a tease. There were more than a few moments that I liked a lot, but they didn’t quite come together as a whole I could get into. But it was close, so close I’m inclined to blame my exhaustion for the missing link. I don’t think it would have been great this time, but he has some promising bits that may eventually come together to something special.

I really liked Benjamin Thigpen‘s set. The first part featured a very nice base of scraping sounds, though the electronic processing was a bit too edge-smoothing. I guess that’s to be expected from anyone who would acknowledge his use of Max/MSP. I’m not sure whether the break due to technical difficulties was such a bad thing. I thought the second part of the set was less interesting, but I suspect it was just me taking the easy way out. I resent that, because I did find intriguing bits in there that made me wish I had paid more attention. I should keep an ear out for this guy in the future.

Das Synthetische Mischgewebe. Is that German for high-brow boredom? Sure seemed it was for me. I hated this and should have left instead of fighting sleepiness. Definitely my kind of thing. When battery-operated dolls are supposed to the highlight of a show, having the “musicians” sitting smugly on the side looking contentedly isn’t all that an improvement. If only they had seen fit to smoke some elaborate pipe, I could have enjoyed the nod to obsolescence. As it was, they were so smug that I have to dig deeper than Metallica insults. More like the Bon Jovi of experimental music.

October 19, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment

October 14th, 2010: Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Segal

@théatre de la ville

OK, both of these guys are really gifted musicians. And I readily admit that I’m not a fan of music from Mali. But this all seemed so mellow. Ballaké Sissoko was pretty good if a bit tame, but I really expected more from Vincent Segal. Though most of that is because I expected the latter to be more comfortable with that place. Maybe neither was. I think that’s a real possibility.

I’m not a fan of music from Mali, but I’ve heard more involved performances. But I guess my problem is the one I always get with classical music. Technically perfect, but I just don’t care. There’s just too much history for me. Whether from China, Mali or Europe, classical music keeps boring me.

As for Segal, well, he did well to play second fiddle at times, and these may have been the most interesting parts. Because there were small details there that went out of the beaten paths and that were precious. Other than that, he sure can do a lot with his instrument and he certainly takes it further than usual in that lame setting. But I’m not the right audience for his most experimental forays. First, they stood out as pointed exceptions. Second, the were just tame if not lame. If anyone wonders how it’s done, I’ve got two words for you: Audrey Chen.

October 19, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

October 8th, 2010: Josephine Foster & The Victor Herrero Band / Greg Malcolm

@instants chavirés

I totally loved Greg Malcolm‘s set. His setup with three guitars, including the main, tricked-out one and contact mics, strings and stuff was visually compelling enough. But his music turned out to range from the playful to the elaborate, all without a noticeable break. I think he’s one of these persons who take music seriously enough to feel free to take chances. If anything, his set was a little short, in that there was a lot to take in, and I did get distracted by some of the most unusual contraptions. The lone track available over at the FMA pretty much confirmed my hunch that there was much more than just novelty to his act. It felt like great music, and fun too, but I thought maybe the unusual setup was misleading me. I don’t think so. I seriously want to see this guy again, and then I won’t get sidetracked. There are some rhythmic gems in there that I want to experience again.

I remember why I loved Josephine Foster‘s music some years ago. A kind of rough folk that was anything but meek, with rusty nails hiding in the plain old wood. This project is totally different, as she teams up with Spanish musicians to bring back to life Federico Garcia Lorca’s collection of popular folk songs. If that sounds dangerously grand, well, I think that’s because it is. I don’t care much for Spanish music anyway, so I guess I was bound to stay on the outside looking in. I think it was rendered well, but I really can’t say, it’s such a foreign tradition for me. I don’t get it, and it felt cold and boring to me. Emphasis on “to me”. Chances are I would have been moved to tears had she selected a more familiar musical tradition like my beloved urtyn duu. Yeah, I can say that Spain is cold and Mongolia is hot. Shows how much I know.

October 19, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

October 7th, 2010: TG / La Race / El-G

@instants chavirés

I always try to ignore the word-based part of El-G‘s shows, or rather the meaning of those words. I’m more interested in the flow, and the musical side of these words. That means I don’t really know what he was talking about, but that was a winning strategy this time, as far as I’m concerned. It took a little while getting started, but by the time he started to add some loops he had my full attention. And it got better as he layered more loops and the words started getting drowned out, fighting for space and maybe struggling to get through, before getting back to the forefront at the end. That was so well done, with a dramatic trajectory to the balance of elements, that was telling a story of its own. Great show, the best I remember hearing from him.

La Race had energy to spare, and I liked their attitude and the fact they avoided the stage and played on the floor. But in this context it also sounded a bit too mundane and predictable. Anyway, I’ll always take that kind of generous performance over pretentious and ambitious high-brow concepts that fall flat for lack of commitment. They’re really going at it, and that’s so big in a live performance. Nothing all that interesting, but it felt good.

I’ve seen TG a few times, and it was never the same thing. There were some of the beats and loops and his more recent shows, but more melodic synth too, and it felt different, though unmistakeably his. And the latter is something on which I’m putting more value with every show or record. He has forayed into pretty different kinds of music, but there’s a constant feel to all this, and I think the combination is both rare and important. Maybe that makes me too biased to say whether the show was as good as I think it was. I don’t really care. I’m much too eager to get hold of that CD he was out of. Will that strike end already so that I can squeeze a trip to the record store in my busy schedule?

October 19, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment