Gigs, dance, art

February 28th, 2009: Ancients Astronauts / La Donation / Blue Sabbath Black Fiji / DRK / Wunderlitzer


Wunderlitzer started well, with what sounded to me like some faint songs underneath a layer of static and feedback. That added to the texture of the sound quite a lot. I lost that thread along the way though, maybe because I drifted toward the back as more people came in. No matter the reason, the end of the set sounded too much the same for me, a storm of noise where I could not pick up changes. I did like the first half though, so I’ll keep it in mind if another opportunity comes up.

DRK added an unusually mundane keyboard sound to the usual noise for most of the set and tried a bunch of different directions. Par for the course I guess, with both the good and bad sides and that approach. The good being very interesting bits, the bad being some frustration at their lack of development. Then again, that’s part of HH’s usual MO, so it’s not that bad. (Maybe I should not taunt him so, lest he plays a long minimalist piece on grand piano next time). Made me want to hear Zaraz Wam Zagram or Lubriphikatttor again though.

My favorite set was of course Blue Sabbath Black Fiji — I’ll definitely admit I’m biased — even though it was not as good as the one late last year; much shorter too, to my dismay. My favorite piece was the one featuring both guitars and a beat loop. That combination of the loop, a noise guitar with loads of feedback and a more melodic one is a relatively new development in their music that I enjoy a lot. A longer set with that, sample/effects experimentation and some of their earlier engulfing waves of feedback would be a blast.

La Donation was completely different, quiet with some field recordings thrown in. Some interesting textures and moments, but I must admit the children voices were really annoying to me, as usual — Dominique Petitgand is the only one whose use of those I can remember liking. I have a much easier time when the language is one I don’t understand, because here I had to make an effort to block out the meaning, and that sometimes spoiled the effect. The parts without voices had their very nice moments though.

Mixed feelings about Ancients Astronauts too, though in a different way. There was a pounding that added beats as the set went on and was transformed in various ways. I didn’t like that part. And there was static/interference noise coming in burst and steadier phrases with an interesting play with time more than pitch or texture. I did like that part. Both were there all along, and even though I felt the pounding was more dominant, it’s probably just a sign of my attempt to focus more on the part I wanted to hear.

March 5, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

November 11th, 2008: Neptune / Blue Sabbath Black Fiji / Ero Babaa / Cocksucker

@le klub

First time at this venue. Small — and quite packed this time — and quite a weird layout.

First set on turntable and electronics. The initial buildup was too long for me, but that’s also because of the background of squeaking door hinges and some guys talking nearby that drowned it out a bit. More interesting at the end, when it got louder and more varied. Quite predictable though, which is not so good.

Then Ero Babaa. Quieter than usual, but that’s relative. Definitely tamer. Maybe that was just me getting used to their thing, even though it had been a few months; well, there’s also that new record.

Anyway, I was there for Blue Sabbath Black Fiji, it had been way too long. They started with voice and electronics, then added the guitars. I must say that part was the one I was looking forward to. The sound wasn’t great, but good enough to feel those physically compeling waves that just feel right. The new twist was the last part of their set, when they added a loud beat — as in danceable — that they kinda eventually corrupted through feedback but still playing with it, a combination I really liked, and not just because that was new.

I had seen Neptune like four years ago and faintly remembered liking them, and somehow lumping them in the arty-post-punk box. Of course I remember those weirdly shaped instruments, but that’s not relevant. Well, that’s pretty much what I found again, I would just add they have a more industrial sound that I remembered. And beneath those metallic tones there was a familiar feel to their music that made me think they were from around Boston. Their myspace location reads Jamaica Plains, so I got that right.

November 13, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

March 29th, 2008: Blue Sabbath Black Fiji / Ero Babaa


Well I saw something else the previous day but I didn’t like it. I’ve been too negative of late so I decided not to write anything about it, not even as a private entry. No such problem for this gig, though.

Ero Babaa went in first. Anything goes as usual, maybe even more. I thought it was fun, but I probably wouldn’t enjoy that too often, or if I didn’t know these guys. That pure mayhem probably gets old quick. But it had been a while and that was good enough, as far as pure chaos can be. If I see them again soon, I hope they can get something going though; on the other hand that’s not the point. Assuming there’s one, and that looks like a big assumption.

Anyway then it was time for Blue Sabbath Black Fiji, who have been one of my favorite bands for a while now. I was pretty exited about this, and it turned out even better than I expected. After seeing Steve Coleman last month I was pretty sure that would be my favorite gig of the year. I’m not not sure right now. BSBF were that great. The small venue — it can’t get much smaller than that bar’s basement — probably helped as I just sat down in front and just went in.

I guess it was not as loud as previous gigs, or maybe I’m getting used to this, but that was less of a physical experience. But that feeling of being engulfed in waves of sound was there anyway. And once I had settled comfortably in that embrace, I could make out all the rest, these patterns and phrases beyond the noise, in a process not unlike making out shapes in the dark as my eyes get used to the faint light. Once accustomed, there was a lot to take in, with the sound getting through very different textures, ending with a colder, almost electronic feel. That set really struck a chord. Perfect balance between an overpowering cloud of feedback and shimmering jewels nested inside. I’m afraid this translated poorly into the couple of recordings that were made, but I hope I can get one anyway.

Having slept on it, maybe I’d still say I liked that Coleman gig better, but it’s a close call and Jen Shyu’s voice is really the difference maker here.

March 30, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

October 13th, 2007: Minitel / Port Radium / Minifer / Blue Sabbath Black Fiji

@la générale en manufacture

This was the first time I went to the new location of  this collective. I’d like to go back for an exhibition, but getting there is not convenient at all, and the neighborhood is just dreadful.

The only reason I went there was because Blue Sabbath Black Fiji were playing. I know I saw them like two months ago, but I just love what they do. They used more electronics in the second and third part of their set — even a keyboard, but put to the same purpose — but what I like best is the engulfing waves of their guitars. That’s as close as I get to meditation music, which probably tells more than I want to hear about my state of mind. I think I’d be willing to go back for more if they play in the area in the coming months.

Minifer played a trio of keyboards with laptop thrown in. I’m still not into keyboards at all, and I failed to overcome my reluctance. It had its moments, especially some static-like sound that broke the prettiness I was having a hard time dealing with after the first set. But I must admit it’s just not for me.

Port Radium had a promising setup, with three cymbals upside-down on a table next to a laptop. It held most of that promise, despite some annoyingly mundane beats at times. But there were also some very interesting rhythmic breaks and contrasts. I’m not completely sold on it, but there were some pretty good ideas in there.

I must confess I had entertained the idea of leaving before Minitel’s set. I had seen them twice and thought they were not really a band but a collection of people doing their things in isolation. I stayed and was proved completely wrong. It was a good set. In a sense, I think that their playing without an extra drummer helped. It just made it more primal, and that’s a lot of what’s interesting about them. And they seemed to have found enough common ground by now to interact more. Maybe too predicable at the beginning, their set got going and kept getting better. A pleasant surprise.

October 14, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

August 3rd, 2007: Usurpers / Evil Moisture & Aluk Todolo / Nackt Insecten / Blue Sabbath Black Fiji & Hélicoptère Sanglante


Probably my last noise/experimental gig for a while, at least it was a good one overall.

The first band was Blue Sabbath Black Fiji feat. Hélicoptère Sanglante. BSBF were the ones I came to see: they’re talented, they’re very active in organizing stuff and they’re real nice people to boot. Did I mention they’re good? I love their music, a dense wave of distorted guitars where I hear more evolving patterns the more it goes on. I didn’t think HS brought much to the table, but I didn’t mind. I loved it that way; to me it’s commanding, evocative, positive and weirdly relaxing.

Nackt Insecten was next, a pretty good set in a more standard electro-acoustic way. My almost standard fare of effects spread on the ground yielding a fulfilling cloud of noise. I was a bit put off by the keyboardish parts, but it was OK overall.

Another pleasant surprise from Evil Moisture. This time he played with a kick-ass band called Aluk Todolo. They played fast and loud, and even though the drummer was not great, he was relentless, which is a very good thing to me. Evil Moisture’s sound was meshing perfectly with this metal sound, taking the whole to a different level. Really great set.

The final set was Usurper, the quietest set of the evening, mostly using different objects and whistles. Unfortunately, I was too pumped up after the previous one to be paying enough attention. So I just didn’t get it.

A couple of great sets in a evening is nothing to complain about though. Note to self: I need to make a better job of keeping up with Blue Sabbath Black Fiji in the future.

August 4, 2007 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment