Gigs, dance, art

May 26th, 2010: Penthotal / Sgure / Miho – Erik Minkkinen / Zaraz Wam Zagram / Emmanuelle Gibello


Those two weeks had taken a toll, I was probably too tired and burned out for another night out. But I just wanted to go back to this place, they could definitely get kicked out any day now. I ended up chatting way to much and not focusing enough on the music, my bad.

I usually like what Emmanuelle Gibello does, and this time was no exception, with those sounds of night and rain. But I was just too tired to appreciate the details, I was too busy fighting the urge to nod off. Maybe that’s why I didn’t like Zaraz Wam Zagram as much as usual too, I would have liked the tapes to be more in front but I may have missed that part. Erik Minkkinen joined Miho for my favorite set of the event, a nice sound texture from guitar and electronics that had some cycles and drones, a nice mix between static and dynamic. Sgure brushing his teeth with contact mics was a fun take on the latter, and the set was short enough not to overextend the idea. I didn’t last until the end of the Penthotal set. Turning on a radio then plugging in effects and stuff while playing it and loops of earlier sounds was nice at first, but it was just too much of the same for too long and I gave up.

May 30, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May 23rd, 2010: Melted Men / Headwar / Erik Minkkinen

@instants chavirés

First a short but very good set by Erik Minkkinen. The sounds were interesting as usual, but the percussive side was stronger and the occasional scream didn’t hurt either. More diverse and balanced than the last couple of times I’d seen him, the set was intense. Short, but if that what it takes to get that kind of intensity, I’m all for it.

I don’t know if I changed or Headwar improved since the last time — probably both — but there was qualifying it time: their set was just great. They sure have a lot of energy, and even more ideas, and they managed to put everything together in a set that never chose between both sides, and with a contagious commitment as well.

Melted Men were much more elaborate scenically, with their changing costumes and props. I didn’t like that side much after a while, but the music was percussive and the unapologetic fun side of their show was nice. Strange to see them as both primitive and too elaborate, but that’s how I felt.

May 30, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

April 23rd, 2010: Antilles / France Sauvage / La Ligne Claire / MAH


I was not feeling too well and almost skipped this one, but I really wanted to hear MAH — Miho, Alexandre Bellenger, and Hendrik Hegray — and all those canceled gigs because of that ash thing made me eager to hear some live music. MAH was pretty good, with axes of stability from rhythmic samples and a drone-like line beneath, that got ditched progressively, but not completely. More like a change of focus. Interesting though not totally up to its potential. This may be the point though.

I guess I wasn’t in the right mood for La Ligne Claire. They bring a lot of energy to the table, and I like their DIY feel. But I just lacked the energy myself to take it all in as it should, and that made me feel I missed the mark. Happens.

I think I finally got why so many people have been praising France Sauvage for a while now. Third time’s the charm, it’s about time. I was quite impressed by their use of records as samples, but the whole thing was both driven and interesting, with a sound personal enough to set them apart. I’m officially punching my ticket for that particular bandwagon.

While I’m on the subject of finally seeing the light, I thought several times while Antilles were playing that Lionel Fernandez wasn’t loud enough. I only caught the start of their set though, I chickened out and left to catch a train home. What I did hear wasn’t their best set in my opinion. There was this relentless pounding, but something seemed missing. That when it dawned on me that I’d grown to like Fernandez’ play, which would have shocked me a couple of years ago. Maybe I’m not too set in my ways to learn something, yet.

April 25, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

April 2nd, 2010: Cathy Heyden – Olivier Bartissol / Audrey Chen / Christine Sehnaoui – Ferran Fages – Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga / Erik Minkkinen

@espace en cours

I’ve heard Erik Minkkinen so many times over the past few years that I always expect his stuff to feel stale, but it usually doesn’t. Granted, the two guitars on a table pretty much clued me into what he would sound like, but he’s so good at it that I didn’t mind. The sound took over that small place and I was grateful for the guidance, being so exhausted I was afraid I would end up nodding off. That was never close to happening, not because it was loud, but because it was changing.

That jolt probably made me better suited for the trio of Christine Sehnaoui, Ferran Fages and Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga. I had some trouble with this set. I thought it didn’t really take off, with almost too much listening and respect at work, so that I thought it was more each of them taking control, with not enough interaction. That played right into what I’m coming to dislike about extended technique playing, a focus on sounds that sometimes fails to make good use of those. It did come together along the way, and the end of the set was nice. The zither was unusual, and that got my attention, which was then sustained by the very nice use of e-bows and predictable but still cool restraining of the strings. The guitar was just too predictable for me, and I’m just so familiar with Sehnaoui’s sound that I expect more. This could turn out to be a great trio with more mileage, but I think it was a bit early. Unfortunately I don’t expect to get another opportunity to hear them, it’s par for the course in this scene.

The reason I showed up — there were a bunch of other cool gigs that day — was to hear Audrey Chen doing a solo set. I’m so glad I did, this was a great set, diverse and engaging throughout. She started with some electronics and more in the extended technique mold, both on cello and voice, and ended with a more regular play and singing actual words. In between it was a progression that never stayed put too long, but she took the time to develop each part. So the set featured less different uses of her instruments than the other times I saw her, but I liked it more. Her bowing the body of the cello was a highlight, but not by much, I liked each part almost as much. I did wish the set had been longer, but it did feel like it had run its course when it stopped, I had a sense she had been going through places with a definite sense of where she wanted to go, and she nailed it just right. Maybe an encore wouldn’t have been enough, I’m already looking forward to hearing her again, on her own or with others. Abattoir would be nice, but I guess anything else would be too.

The last set had Cathy Heyden playing with various objects — many cooking related — and Olivier Bartissol playing metal folding music stands, bowing at first then folding and unfolding them. That was nice at first, but I thought it ran too long, and got just too predictable quickly. It felt long, and it looked like Heyden had a longer list of things she wanted to use while Bartissol had to go over the same things a little too much. The end of the set was nice too, but the middle was a little boring.

April 12, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

July 8th, 2009: Diane Cluck / Ken’s Last Ever Radio Extravaganza / Capricorn Band

@espace en cours

I had had this one circled for a while, because of Ken Garson‘s longtime and highly visible role in the station. He’s the Kenzo in the KenzoDB powering the playlists, and is also responsible for the new flash player. So even though I had only heard a couple of his shows on the radio, I’m more than a little familiar with — and grateful for — his handiwork.

Capricorn Band went first, and even though both of them are in Antilles, it was really different from that band. The most obvious being there were no drums, but a pad instead. Actually what he was doing with that was closer to one of the guitar sound the last time I heard Antilles, but the comparison stops here, because he was also modulating that sound and throwing in twists that just took it in a different direction. The guitar was more quote-unquote regular, which means less percussive and more about the sound textures. Pretty cool sound overall, but sometimes a bit too much of the same for too long. Then again it’s been a long year and I might just be getting used to what Erik Minkkinen does. Actually, I’m trying to convince myself that the coming summer drought has a silver lining.

Speaking of being spoiled, I wasn’t all that into Ken’s Last Ever Radio Extravaganza as a live set. I mean it sounded like great radio, but felt a little out of place. Probably just my being used to hearing that kind of thing alone, and even his talking wasn’t breaking that impression. I mean it’s quite impressive that I could see firsthand his pulling this all out of thin air live, but it’s more confirming a claim than a shock. Maybe the sense of a narrative thread unfolding is something I have a hard time associating with a gig. That came from the blending of sounds and recurrence of some samples, and it’s something I tend to associate with my favorite radio shows. Maybe the sense of intimacy is kinda generating some of disconnect, as it’s less a shared experience with the rest of the audience as something both shared with unknown strangers and a broadcast from an identified stranger. Not that different from any live set come to think of it, so I guess it was all in my mind.

Another totally different experience with Diane Cluck‘s set. More in a folkish style, a reference hard to shake with her guitar/voice setup. I loved her voice. So much that I can’s really tell whether I liked the songs on their own or just because of it. Anyway even if the latter is the case this means that the songs were a great setting for it to shine, and I tend to think there was more at work than just that, because I usually tire of these, and I didn’t. Another reason to check her out again if I get a chance.

Pretty diverse gig, in a place I like. That alone underscores how much I’ll soon come to hate summer, when nothing is going on for a couple of months. Well, I’m planning to get back to live music with Ornette Coleman very early in September, and that’s a cheering thought.

July 14, 2009 Posted by | Music | , , , , , | 1 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