Gigs, dance, art

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

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 9th, 2009: Woods / El-G / Hyena

@mécanique ondulatoire

Hyena is one guy on guitar on voice over percussion loops. His voice is high pitched with much modulation, which annoyed me more than a bit. I guess it’s telling that the part I liked best because he abruptly stopped and started again might not have been intentional. I’m not being sarcastic, it’s just that I would have like his music more with a few more accidents and surprises. Apart from the voice it was OK, but just too predictable.

The reason I could not miss this gig is that I wanted to hear El-G‘s music live, and so far I had only seen him doing stand-up comedy or playing in a band. He did two “songs”, each time starting with mostly voice with a little keyboard and then adding loops and effects to end in a tranceish krautrock. I liked his unstable voice that kinda sounded like a tape played slightly too slow, and of course I loved the instrumental parts, most of all because of the many loops of different speeds and textures, which made the whole repetitive on the surface but with a lot of small changes beneath. Totally great set, the only blemish would be the way both parts pretty much followed the same game plan. He did go back to voice in the middle of the second part, but that was blending well so it didn’t change the overall structure. I’m just nitpicking here, what matters to me is that I loved his set.

Woods also featured a singer with a high pitched voice, but that didn’t bother me as much, probably because in a band it’s less of an issue. I was expecting something weirder, but it turned out pretty polished. I think I liked the faster pieces better, and I definitely liked that their songs were quite different. But it felt a little too efficient and controlled for me. I guess I would have been more open had they been playing before El-G, so I’m probably not being fair.

During the show a guy told me about his blog called No More Return, it’s only getting started but as he intends to post some videos he made over the years, it’s probably worth checking out from time to time.

April 12, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment

February 22nd, 2009: Arnaud Rivière / Api Uiz / Ero Babaa / Opera Mort


Most of the regulars showed up and more, which is good for the fine people responsible. It had been a while since I attended a kliton gig, but I intend to break that pattern. That one was to kick off the tour that will see Api Uiz and Ero Babaa set fire to Germany — it’s actually halfway through by now, I’ve been slow updating this thing.

I got my second chance at hearing Opéra Mort — this time without hearing troubles. It was well worth the expectation, and justified my aggravation at having that set spoiled back then. What I like most about them is that they throw in unusual elements in their noisish brew. Like rhythmic loops, not an important part of the mix, but the touch of spice that made it all the more satisfying to me. And processed voice will get my vote every time, even though they went light on that ingredient. I really liked this set a lot, and thanks to él-g and Jo T. for that one.

Then it was back to the usual suspects, with a twist because Ero Babaa actually went quiet and almost sane for a while. Of course that went out the window before the end of the set, but a surprise from people I’ve heard so often is always welcome. And I liked the way they just cut their set out abruptly. I think that makes total sense, even though that sounds weird applied to them — in a good way, like if I said Kenny G. made sense, though that’s not really gonna happen.

Api Uiz will probably be bitching about the many breaks and technical difficulties, but it didn’t really matter. There even was a good side to it, in that they had the opportunity to display several times how they can go to full speed instantly. Many things in their music are common with other bands out of that particular Bordeaux scene, and that’s exclusively for the best. There’s all this uncompromising energy that never crosses over to the sanctimonious. As good an entry point as any to the wonderful world of les potagers natures, and even though I still like Chocolat Billy best — I just could not resist the name-dropping — they’re too good to miss one of their gigs in these parts: instantly engaging but with more underneath if you want to delve deeper.

I was afraid hearing Arnaud Rivière on quote-unquote turntable again so soon would be boring, but it was totally different. Much rougher than his take with eRikm and Jean-Philippe Gross earlier this week. The percussive element brought by banging stuff was there, but put to another, far less regular use. And the mixing board part was closer to the mind-blowing stuff I know he can pull off. Not that good in my opinion this time, but close enough to make the performance a good one, in an edgy hungry way I hadn’t heard from him in a while. Maybe be not his best in and of itself — I’ve heard him so many times I definitely am getting picky — but the spirit was a reassuring proof of wide open tomorrows. He’s definitely neither afraid nor complacent, and that’s more than enough to make want to hear what’s next. He’s off to Israel for a few gigs today, if you’re over there catch him if you can, and don’t shy away from talking to the guy after the show, especially if you’re a composer/musician yourself. He’s very open-minded and is confident enough to stray out of his particular path.

February 25, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

January 31st, 2009: U.S. Girls / Minitel / Opera Mort


Another try, with mixed results.  I’m not sure I can pinpoint what will trigger that annoying effect, but I can’t wait to get rid of it. It did show up at times during Opera Mort’s set, and that’s a shame because I was really enjoying that one. They even threw in some voice processing, and the music felt just right, without any trace of pretense, interesting with taking itself too seriously. Then my ear started acting up and spoiled the end of the set. I hope I can catch them another time.

Much worse with Minitel, my internal feedback drowned out theirs, and got infuriatingly loud whenever Erik Minkkinen got close to an amp. That set was just ruined for me.

But it went away completely during U.S. Girls‘ set, a good thing because she’s the one I was most curious about and also the one I’d have a hard time seeing again. I had heard her session on the station last year and wondered what she would sound live. I liked it better this way and being in a basement felt very appriopriate because the heavy echo and muffled beats had me thinking of hearing some distant music underground in a tunnel or sewers. It does sound the same throughout, so I guess I wouldn’t listen to this too often, but it’s nice once in a while and definitely more interesting to experience live.

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

December 13th, 2008: Reines d’Angleterre / Noël Akchoté

@maison des métallos

I might have well have stayed home. I really loathe this place, and having the gig take place in the lobby didn’t help any. To make things worse, a delayed train got me there too late to hear Alvaro. That didn’t improve my mood, which combined with my general weariness pretty much spoiled the whole event for me.

I had never seen Noël Akchoté live, and his set spent covering Kylie Minogue. I don’t really know her music, so I guess I was bound to miss the point, but even though he’s indeed a very good guitar player, I thought the whole thing got tiresome about fifteen minutes into the set. Too much of the same, and I can only wish I’ll get a better opportunity another time.

I liked Reines d’Angleterre much better, but the poor conditions were annoying in that the balance sounded off. Ghédalia Tazartès’ voice just deserves better, and what could have been an interesting electronic background got just too mushy and hard to make out from most places. I finally got close enough to hear the whole quite well just as the set ended. Another missed opportunity, or maybe that’s two for the price of one because what I heard of his new record made me curious about what El-G is doing as a musician.

The only set I really did like were a bunch of kids who were playing when I got there. Nothing ground-breaking, but there was an immediacy that got through my foul mood.

OK, even the tags join in the fun. El-G and El G are not related, at least not that I know of. But wordpress doesn’t seem to accept the hyphen as a meaningful difference.

December 16, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment

November 19th, 2008: El Remolon / El G

@café des sports

That’s a bit of a stretch, because I only caught about an hour of it, but I want to write down a few links because that’s a kind of music I’m very much into these days. Seeing how that bar was so close to the venue of the earlier gig, I just had to get there as soon as possible, because that sounded like a plan and there was no way I was going to miss Death Sentence: Panda! in a kliton gig anyway.

This was part of a tour by DJs from a collective named Zizek. I didn’t get to hear Villa Diamante, but I did catch part of a El G set and most of one of El Remolon‘s. The highlight of that set was when he was joined by a woman from Venezuela. But the whole thing was really good, I mean it’s only the second time I manage to hear about this kind of event — the previous one was Sonido Martines. I love that mix of cumbia, reggaetón and modern electronic/dance stuff, and both sets were suitable eclectic. Maybe I’ll some day figure out where those parties are in Paris, but no luck so far. I’m not sure El G’s site about Buenos Aires will help, but that’s a start.

I found out about this kind of music from DJ/Rupture’s show, at a time when I was getting puzzled by my dislike for latin american music: reggaetón was the only kind I liked. After one of my resolutions to try to get more mainstream I wanted to investigate salsa, and in typical fashion I heard that weird cumbia first and instantly forgot about that mainstream thing. Then came many puzzling conversations before I realized that the only cumbia readily available around here was the traditional one, and those mixes were basically turning off both the salsa dancers and the regular party crowd. Now at least I have a source for more mixes and info. And maybe know about any Fauna tour stop around here.

November 22, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment