counterfnord

Gigs, dance, art

May 3rd, 2011: eRikm – Dieb13 / Yann Leguay

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Yann Leguay‘s could have turned out too smart for its own good: hard drives with turntable arms around them. But it was no issue, the sound stood its ground fine, despite a laptop crash a few minutes into the show that led to a restart. He would raise the arms and let the cartridge hit the drives, then the cracks would generate crackling loops. It all added up and slowly built a nice soundscape, where the source didn’t matter much. The setup could possibly provide some additional interest, but the performance worked on its own, as it should. The rest is just gravy, and I didn’t really think about it.

I was surprised at the sparse attendance, eRikm usually draws more people. His set with Dieb13 took a while getting started in my opinion. At first it was a bit too nice and sophisticated for me, and it looked like they were treading too lightly. It did take off when they added some tension by going their separate ways. I think that’s probably more eRikm’s doing, I’ve heard him play too nice before. He can be very good at this collaborative stuff, but I think he should be more assertive early on. These sets usually end well, but the ramp-up can get tedious

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June 13, 2011 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment

April 23rd, 2011: Harsh Noise Wall Festival

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Eleven sets, most solo, but with up to four performers. Strangely enough, it wasn’t that loud, and despite the static side of this music, it wasn’t boring either. There’s a common theme, but each one had his own take on it, from manic to introverted, and the short sets kept things going. It was a nice event, even though I wish I could have heard more of some of them. What I like best about it is that it gave me an opportunity to hear new things, hopefully I’ll get more at another time. Besides Vomir and Å, who I had heard before and still like, my favorites were Werewolf Jerusalem, Rééducation, and especially Dead Body Collection. But it’s a bit of a blur by now, and there’s a lot more to discover here. I certainly hope there will be another festival next year, and more shows in the meantime.

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Music | | Leave a comment

April 22nd, 2011: Fred Frith

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Time for another burst of short notes in this extremely busy spell.

I had never seen Fred Frith live, but I didn’t expect much; it would have been so easy to get unreasonable expectations from his body of work. Truth is, it was a great set. His sound wasn’t all that special, there are a lot of people doing this kind of thing, and a bunch are just as proficient. But few can sustain such creativity for so long. He didn’t linger on anything, going from one idea to the next before any one had a chance to go stale. And the changes were constant and varied, be it in sound, rhythm, speed or just the overall feel of it. Sometimes it was a gradual shift, but often there was an about-face that somehow felt like it had to happen right then. There’s no question he’s the real deal.

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Music | , | Leave a comment

April 13th, 2011: Toc Sine / Eli Keszler / Will Guthrie

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I came for Will Guthrie, who I had seen with The Ames Room, and I wasn’t disappointed. He’s a great drummer who can make me eat any disparaging words I ever had about yet another drum solo — and that would be quite a meal. This solo had me transfixed right from the start, and that grip increased along with the loudness, but not because of it. What got me really impressed was what he did with the kick, it was fast enough to get close to the danger zone of virtuosity, but it never felt like it was speed in a vacuum, so I never got bored, far from it. There was little of the extended technique thingie at work here, but it was a constantly fascinating set, and a rare treat. I need to hear that guy again, alone or with others.

To continue with my serving of crow, now that I badmouthed extended technique, here came another drummer that made good use of these. Yes, he did bow his cymbals. But no, for some reason Eli Keszler wasn’t boring at all. He did use a guitar too, but just for an occasional resonating chord that nonetheless felt like percussion too, closer the part a gong might play than the usual guitar. It was less viscerally commanding a performance than the previous one, but almost as good as far as I’m concerned. Eye-opening too in that what I thought were tired recipes turned out to be valid tools in the right hands.

After these two shocks, Toc Sine sounded closer to my usual fare, no surprise because these two — Pascal Battus and Jean-Luc Guionnet — are familiar faces. Still, it was louder than what I expected, yet with the best of the deft touch I came to expect from them. But as I’m spoiled and expected nothing less from then, it came as less of a surprise and so left the weakest impression on me of the evening. It was merely good, and with my being so late posting this, I’m can’t remember enough of it except that I liked it, but less than the two great sets before this one.

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

April 7th, 2011: Ramleh / Club Moral / Astma

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Astma ended up being my favorite set of the evening. Maybe because it was the one that didn’t always work all that well. I loved the beginning, but I felt it ran out of steam along the way. Or maybe I just didn’t like the direction they took later. Either way at least it wasn’t predictable, and the drummer’s vocals were the most striking thing I heard that day. I hope to hear them again, in that lineup or another as they seem to be quite active.

Club Moral came heavily hyped, and they certainly proved worth it. They’re much better live than I expected. Part of that comes from the DDV’s charisma, but for me the best was the synth sounds, those were amazing. The downside is that they seem to have a recipe and don’t really stray from it, so that by the end the whole set kinda blurred together. Still good, but limited in that sense.

I had the same problem with Ramleh, only maybe worse. That was a little too efficient for me, and their sound was so consistent that I had to look at them to notice when they introduced new elements. In this kind of music, they’re extremely good. But there’s just one kind, and they don’t really play the exhaustion card either, so that got a little tedious for me.

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

March 31st, 2011: Silencers

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Silencers features Benoît Delbecq, Toma Gouband, Kim Myhr and Nils Ostendorf. I almost didn’t go, and I was afraid they would live up to their name and be too minimal for me. But it wasn’t that way — though pretty quiet — and I’m glad I didn’t give in to my misgivings.

I’m partial to prepared piano, and Delbecq had some great wooden sounds, so that alone would have been enough. I’m also partial to zither, and I’m glad to have had a better impression of Kim Myhr in a live setting — though I didn’t like some of his guitar playing. I liked some of what I could hear from Gouband, but I knew even then that I was missing a lot. I didn’t like Ostendorf’s play in the first set — too much of what I expected — but I liked the second set better.

I’ve been told the performance was much better from closer or on headphones, because their music includes a lot of tiny details that matter, but just didn’t carry. I can certainly believe that. But it was already good enough for me not to regret coming, so that’s still something.

April 3, 2011 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

March 30th, 2011: France Sauvage / Justice Yeldham / Napalm Jazz

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Napalm Jazz were better than I expected, but that’s all on me. I’m getting eager to move away from this noise thing, but at the same time I keep running into people who make me linger. Napalm Jazz just extended that list. The pedals and contact mics are just tools, but there’s something primal, direct and honest in a take-it-or-leave-it way about their music that I think is worth enduring the routine. Once in a while, it’s more than worth it, it’s downright cleansing.

This was my fourth time hearing Justice Yeldham, and I intentionally stress “hearing”. Reading about his music as a kind of freak show is getting to pet peeve level with me. Sure, he might bite a slice of glass of that plate he’s playing or smash it on his face, but there’s so much more to it. So I didn’t even look at him. And it’s at least as good that way. He displays amazing control of his instrument — and glass and contact mic are an instrument in his hands — and I think it’s really worth listening to. There are rhythmic and melodic parts in there, and it’s really music. And when he broke the glass, it made sense too, because the reduced area changed the pitch. I suspect he doesn’t even need to do that anymore, but the expectation of this is part of his act by now. He plays with that too, so it’s not a bad thing.

France Sauvage sounded almost mainstream after these, especially with a drummer. But there was much more to it than that. Even when the beat was at its most repetitive and trance-like, their music packs an unpredictable undertow I emphatically recommend yielding to. I think there’s always something going on in there, and even though I chose my own level, other people probably got something quite different from their performance. Which to me is a very good thing. This time I was more interested in the electronics that were going against the flow. Another time I might like better another part of what they do. Maybe someday I’ll get enlightened enough to take it all in. Until then I can still expect to find something to latch on to no matter why state of mind. It’s that rich.

April 2, 2011 Posted by | Music | , , , | Leave a comment