Gigs, dance, art

June 24th, 2010: TG / Napalm Jazz / Moliere / Damien Schultz / Centenaire


I liked the Centenaire opened their set, quite driven with a relentless rhythm and keyboard that was much to my liking. I’m definitely not fond of the voice, but that was nice. There were a couple other songs I liked too, but not so much the rest of the set, which was a little too mainstream pop/rock for me. Half is enough, though.

Damien Schultz had a new text, but it’s not really something to which I pay much attention. For me it’s all in the delivery and its rhythm, and the repeated phrase of that text was neat, and help but the rhythm in sharp relief. As good a performance as I’ve heard from him, which is saying something.

Moliere was another of these projects with a new name but featuring some of the usual suspects. They spent the set huddled in a corner, which avoided any antic to let the music stand on its own. It was less noisy and more immediately catchy than I expected, but pretty good and engaging as live music, nothing to sneeze at.

Napalm Jazz did the set that went the most to the usual noise side, though they were joined by Jac Pochat and Quentin Rollet, both on sax. They — especialy the former at first — brought a more melodic side to the performance without really mellowing it. Which is a good thing, and they merged well with the noise before fading and leaving both Napalm Jazz guys to conclude in a more noise vein. Nice set, but I could have used some more of the last part.

I thought the place would be a nice fit for TG and it was indeed a good set, and the first time I got to here his more beat-oriented side with a decent enough sound. What’s nice is that beyond the beats the noise is still there and there were several layers to that music, united in a set that was cohesive but not simple-minded.

July 6, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

March 9th, 2010: Zaraz Wam Zagram / Laurent Pascal / Damien Schultz / DJ Satok / Maxime Echardour

@instants chavirés

The first set had Maxime Echardour play a piece by Pierluigi Billone called “Mani. De Leonardis”. I guess it was a bit of a challenge to perform contemporary in that setting, but I think it’s worth it. He played four big springs and two fish bowls, and the sound of these was unusual without being a mere novelty. The mallets he used most of the time had different coatings on each side that made for different sounds, and a small metal hammer brought another dimension when needed. I wasn’t all that convinced by the later part of the piece, but I liked most of it anyway. And having this played in this particular evening brought interesting possibilities to my mind. I hope someone with the talent to act on these picked them up as well.

I guess some could say that Satoko just played records, but that set was my favorite and the sequence was a perfect complement to the pictures. I was familiar with some of the music, but more than half was totally new to me, especially the work songs. There’s just so much I don’t know, there’s a lot of very interesting music in Japan alone, and there are so many places beyond that country. That humbling in the best possible way, in that there’s a lot more I can probably hear if I can just keep an open mind and stray from my usual path. Many thanks for this.

The rest of the evening was more familiar. Damien Schultz did two spoken word pieces. I liked the first better, I thought its rhythm was stronger and I just like him better with repetition than with the slightly bigger patterns of the second part. Part of it may be just a preference for the sounds of the first, as I made a conscious effort to block out any meaning. I probably miss something in the process, but otherwise I just find words too distracting.

Laurent Pascal played harmonica and toy piano, joined by a woman on ukulele and voice. My problem with this set was that it was too close to what I expected. And I guess I’m not that much into what he’s doing anyway. But I do like the change of pace from the usual stuff I hear there.

I didn’t expect the start of Zaraz Wam Zagram’s set at all. Those bird songs went on too long for me, but then again it did jolt me into paying closer attention. It did get noisier later on, and the set featured very tasty bits. I would have liked more tapes, but the mix of tapes and electronics struck a balance I can’t complain about. As usual with his music, there were things I loved and things I didn’t care for, and neither lasted all that long. In a sense, that’s what I like about his music. Things happen and move away for other things. There’s continuity nonetheless, and it usually makes for good live performances.

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment

June 28th, 2009: Elwis Presley Lieben Toten / Antilles / Damien Schultz / Mr Marcaille / Projet Piscine / aka_bondage

A pretty good start with a diverse set by aka_bondage. Sometimes close to noise, sometimes percussive, featuring loops, samples and his trademark stringed antlers. He used a bow when the latter was involved, and that might have been my favorite part — though the first one was real cool as well. I know he’s been around for a while, but I had only heard him as part of a bigger project not that long ago, so that was a nice discovery for me.

Back when I first heard Projet Piscine, I was surprised at my liking them despite a eightiesish sound. I don’t whether they evolved or I just paid more attention, but except for a very Cureish bass sound during one song, it’s really not that dated. I was actually more thinking about mid-nineties Sonic Youth during their set, for some reason that isn’t all that clear to me. It definitely has something to do with the singer’s inflections at times. Anyway, it’s not a big deal because whatever influences showed up, those were integrated into something definitely theirs and current. And though they do have a rather consistent sound, their songs are not alike, that kept me interested throughout. I went to my original post about them and read that I wondered whether they were good or I was in a good mood. This time my mood was sour and I their set was my favorite anyway, so that pretty much settles it. In between I had heard them once for a very short set, botched in a way but that I liked a lot because it was rougher. Another promising thing about them is that people who have told me about them don’t agree much on what they like about them; I take that to mean I still missed a lot and will hear new things the next time.

Mr Marcaille brough something totally different, basically playing metal on cello. Throw in some serious feedback and drum kicks, and it was indeed metal, the cello bringing a different touch but not straying into some ironic fusion at all. As is often the case with metal, I did enjoy it at first, but kinda lost interest toward the end. A bit too much of the same thing, that’s all. But cool enough for a while.

Damien Schultz is always challenging for me, because I don’t like words, so I have a hard time getting into spoken word acts. I just tend to block out the words and focus on the flow. He’s suitably relentless and rather on the fast side, which help. Not my favorite performance of his, but not a poor one either.

I was quite impressed by Antilles. I had last seen them two years ago, but hadn’t quite got it at the time. Erik Minkkinen was just as creative as usual, this time his guitar was flat on a table and he started by playing a beat that was close in role to bass even though the effects made it sound more synth-like. Again, I really liked what Lionel Fernandez did, I once thought he was too loud and assertive, but I’ve changed my mind in the past year or so. He’s probably both, but the difference is I get it now. The drummer was a big part of why I liked this set, in that he not just grounding the thing but really had an equal part. The whole had an almost trance like quality, especially the encore, driven with a rich sound with featured clear sounds and a dense texture.

Elwis Presley Lieben Toten saw their set impaired by technical difficulties and cut short by curfew. Laptop, guitar, megaphone and power tools for an electro-punk hybrid that had cool moments but I just had a problem with the beats. Hard to say with those less than ideal conditions, and their playing last probably didn’t help, so I’d probably like a second look.

July 2, 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

April 26th, 2009: Queen Shmooquan / Herb Diamante / Damien Schultz / Lexie Mountain Boys / Karaocake

@espace en cours

So many things going on made it a hard choice, but I just could not pass on the opportunity to see Lexie Mountain Boys at last. Plus I like the place, at least as long as it doesn’t rain.

Karaocake isn’t really my kind of music, just too nice pop without the touch of wildness or excess that can make me interested. Nonetheless I thought the addition of a floor tom to the keyboard prevented it from getting into a DIY introvert pop routine and so I liked it better than I expected.

I was expecting a lot from Lexie Mountain Boys on the strength of their session during Liz Berg’s show. What that really almost two years ago? As usual, I was not interested in the visual part of the show — tamer than what I had heard about them, though they did put on their beards — what I really wanted to experience was hearing their voices for real and see how they interacted. They looked like they genuinely liked each others, so that part held up to what I thought, and they made it a fun set. Unfortunately hearing them in a small venue didn’t really sound better than what I had heard before, but I guess my expectations were wrong because it’s not about power but more about the way they fit together. On that count that was a very good set, and there’s just no substitute for a live gig, so I’m happy my lofty expectations didn’t prevent me from having a good time, that would have been so dumb.

Then came a short set by Damien Schultz, and definitely my favorite of his. There was a first sequence without words at all, and even then I could easily ignore the meaning to focus on the delivery, which was great, fast but without sounding forced and just interesting as a flow. There were many funny bits in the meaning of the words as well, and even though I’m generally not into that at all, even I have to say it did make for a better set.

The final set felt more like two separate ones, with Herb Diamante going first for a few songs then leaving before adding some vocals during part of Queen Shmooquan‘s performance. I liked his voice but especially the way he somehow could be both restrained and over the top at the same time. Very interesting, with a compelling matter of fact weirdness. Her show was more on the weirdly weird side, and more performance than music, except for a final song on acoustic guitar that showcased her unusual but good voice. It was more on the normal side as well, so having both more separate made it less interesting than Herb Diamante’s for me.

May 1, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment

July 19th, 2008: Philémon / Rompé / Krzych / Damien Schultz / Zaraz Wam Zagram


Most probably the very last gig at this place, as it is supposed to close down for good anytime now. The theme was solo performances, which was the case if one defines it as “no more than two hands”.

That refers to 1/2 ZWZ, because he had his right forearm and hand in a cast, and had someone lend him a hand — literally enough, as he kept his other hand behind his back — to man the guitar. Still interesting under the circumstances, but I’ve heard better from him.

Damien Schultz then read a text, his speed going from fast to breakneck, with a lot of repetitions but my understanding the words spoiled most of it for me. It usually takes me much longer than his short performance to turn off the mind stuff.

I then finally got to hear Krzych, after many near misses over the last couple of year; it seems that something would always come up and thwart my plans to hear him, in any of his various projects. I’m glad that streak came to an end, as it turned out to be my favorite performance of the evening. Quite diverse, from melodic echoes to distorted screaming to percussive anti-patterns. There were parts I didn’t like, but overall I really enjoyed that set, especially when the sound got used as a raw material yet with a trace of structure and trajectory underneath.

Rompé was more conventional noise guitar mayhem, but his use of a metal sheet with a contact mike added a welcome twist, injecting some unpredictability into what would have been a routine performance.

Finally, Philémon, his sax and pedals brought it to a close. That was pretty good, the sound was strong enough, but I still thought it lacked something. But I guess that’s the way it should be, these were more informal improvised performances anyway.

I’ll miss that tiny basement of a venue, it was a nice place for these small gigs.

July 21, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , | Leave a comment