Gigs, dance, art

April 13th, 2010: Alexandre Bellenger

@société de curiosités

Each of the two sets began with a recorded piece, then a live one. I’m not that fond of writing about recorded pieces, so I’ll just drop a few words and move on. The first had an interesting collage effect, from the deep rumbling at the beginning to more prevalent snippets of songs, with moments of quiet outlining those strips. I liked the second better, not surprising as it featured sounds from records and turntables. It had the cycles and mechanical sounds I enjoy.

Plok 2 was performed by Quentin Dubost and Julien Skrobek. The score defined what they had to play, but not when, so there was an improvisation side in the timing. Maybe the material was stretched over too long, but I thought they spent too much time alternating. They did play more at the same time later on, but I still think they listened a bit too much. I guess that’s where the improvisation habits really showed, but the constraints about what they would play made those less relevant. I think a denser version would have forced them to shed those.

Dice piece for three samplers had a playful side but was interesting. The durations of segments for each sampler had been randomly selected during the two previous events of the series, with each segment featuring a single sound, but the performer had total discretion as to how often to play it. At times a rhythm and a structure would emerge, but the changes made them break down soon. The performers — Avril Bénard, Karine Ducours, and Edith Msika — could have kept them going, but they went with the flow and kept changing the pace. I think it was a successful experiment, and a fitting way to end Alexandre Bellenger’s series of shows here.


April 15, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

March 4th, 2010: Diemo Schwarz / Karine Dumont / Julie Rousse

@société de curiosités

Over the past few years I’ve heard about Julie Rousse playing in different places but never got around to go there for various reasons, though I remembered liking what she did the one time I did go, a long time ago. Now I know I got it right about liking her music, and can only wonder why it took me so long. Even though it’s all laptop based, she uses field recordings with an urban feel — I like that — and managed to include noise elements with a mechanical side — I love that. And the piece evolved in a way that didn’t feel narrative as much as an experience of motion through a living landscape. The different feeling part of it as opposed to being a second-hand witness — even though I guess that’s what is really was. Here’s hoping I grow some sense and don’t wait as long to hear her again.

Overall I wasn’t as much into Karine Dumont‘s set. Most of that came from the voice. Not because I didn’t understand the words — that would have been worse. But because it blocked my way for some reason. But once I got into it I loved it. There was a whole world real enough to be touched in there, and the place was very appropriate for this kind of experience. I was pretty short, and the voice bookends didn’t help, but I’d like to hear more from her.

The event was put together by Emmanuelle Gibello — who I like — with the last set being composed by her for Diemo Schwarz. She explained she also wants to use the instruments the performers make and use, and in this case this is a Max/MSP open source software called CataRT. I usually like Emmanuelle Gibello’s work, and I could find a lot of that in the recordings going through this piece. There was some traveling involved, it started with sounds from the local subways and close to the end featured chanting that was probably from Asia though I couldn’t figure out the language — Korean could be a fit, weirdly enough I’m totally unfamiliar with Korean apart from children songs. And at times it went as if through a tunnel buffeted by a digital wind, a somewhat grainy sound that felt like the audio equivalent of pixelation. That brought an interesting twist, but I would have liked it to be more integrated into the fabric of the piece. Still a good one in my book, I’m just nitpicking at this point.

March 8, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , | Leave a comment

February 24th, 2010: Signe Lidén

@société de curiosités

More drones! I really like that, so I just had to go. The technical side of the resonator setup eludes me, but I like the results. Signe Lidén did two sets, she described the first as quiet and the second as less quiet. I guess there’s truth to that, in that the second was definitely louder and featured more changes.

I think I liked the first set better though. The drones had time to claim the space around me, and when two or more piled up, their interactions unfolded gradually in a very satisfying way. Granted, not much going on, but may small things that made my day.

The pace of the second set was faster, with more of a difference between sounds and a few twists I liked a lot. At the end of her set, she placed a metal grid over that big metal drum and played that to generate higher pitched sounds that were completely different from the backdrop of drones yet matched them somehow. Very cool sets, I’m glad I dragged myself over there.

February 28, 2010 Posted by | Music | , | 1 Comment

February 5th, 2010: L’Ocelle Mare / Simon Queheillard

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Simon Queheillard played first, and that was a great performance despite their having just arrived from Germany. The sounds he gets out of his guitar are just amazing. Using a small motor as a pick, he can get something just as steady as an e-bow, but with far more versatility. It can sound like feedback, but also like it was played in reverse. All this from his inventiveness, control and physical engagement. And all this sound exploration was never without purpose, always weaved into music that made good use of the material while coming first throughout.

L’Ocelle Mare was just as good. He played banjo most of the set, but it was much more diverse than the last time I saw him. The most extreme variation came from his moving the bridge right next to the neck, but he didn’t really need this to change a lot in a short time. And of course he displays such a commitment to his music that I was just pulled in. I think the smaller venue fits his music well. It demands a focus that isn’t really compatible with a big space. A bit like his new record, which requires and rewards a little dedication.

February 8, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , | Leave a comment

January 19th, 2010: Alexandre Bellenger – En Progrès

@société de curiosités

I had missed the first installment of the series because of another show, but I had heard serious praise about it. That’s a misleading post title, by the way, as he only played the second part, but I’m feeling lazy.

The first part was called DD5, with Julien Skrobek and Quentin Dubost on guitar. Long silences with occasional chords or notes. Too much silence for me, often defeating the buildup of expectation. Then again it’s a fine line and I liked the awkwardness of trying to keep still and silent while picking up the background noise. Awkward because it still wasn’t long enough to take over. But I wasn’t won over.

The second and longest one — Perlaboration — was marred by a couple of technical breakdowns along the way. And I wish I hadn’t paid attention to the explanations beforehand, as they made its progress too predictable. Unless those expectations guided my perception. At first there was a lot going on and I really liked some of the sounds and their wide range. Unfortunately when it got quieter and bell-like I ran into my own technical difficulties: a recent and not completely healed ear infection added a layer of crackling static that pretty much ruined the end for me. I’d like another shot at it because I did like some elements but missed so much of the big picture.

The last — Decades after J.C. — was my favorite. The introduction made sense in helping me pick up some things, but I managed to ignore the details at times too. Six musicians: Quentin Dubost and Antoine Marroncles on gong, Miho and Dan Warburton on rainstick, and Julien Skrobek and Stromvarx on turntables. The blueprint called for sections of continuous or intermittent playing by each, but even though it was sometimes obvious, the process didn’t take over the music. The trekkiesish samples were a bit jarring, but did lighten up the whole, though that too quickly became irrelevant. Maybe having more people helped, but I think it’s also about the process showing a confidence I like: the confidence to write part of the music but let some of it undefined.

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , | Leave a comment