• Nils Petter Molvaer - darkness and noise

    Fev 26 2010, 14h59

    Mon 22 Feb – Nils Petter Molvær, Sing Sing Penelope

    I found this concert to be tremendously exciting and the first time I've heard Nils Molvaer build upon the promise of Khmer, his debut release as leader. His subsequent recordings have generally exploited contemporary production values and dance-derived beats without ultimately achieving much in the way of originality or managing to expand his emotional palette.

    The sequencing revealed an impressive structure that alternated between subdued threat and magnificent noise. Already well-versed in Audun Klieve's talents, I was particularly struck by the grinding abstractions of Stian Westerhus whose work I'd not heard before. I was also very much struck by the staging of the concert in terms of lighting, sound quality and video backdrop. I think I've seen Nils play live four or five times previously and it's been my experience that he's much more thrilling in concert than on record, where his productions smooth over the occasionally ragged glory of his band's live performance. So too here although Hamada is very much worth hearing.

    Although aware of Hamada's release, I'd not bothered to seek it out and only through the kindness of a friend did I get to attend the concert. I'm extremely glad I did as I'm now a renewed fan and very much look forward to hearing where Nils goes next, now that he's begun to develop his own voice again. I'd love to hear him move in the direction of the dark metal that Hamada hints at, as the likes of Steve Noble/Aethenor and Julian Priester/Sunn o))) have done.

    View a video clip and image on my blog, A Personal Miscellany.

    For a diametrically opposed perspective, see John Fordham's review.
  • Moritz von Oswald, Bugge Wesseltoft, Matmos, Carl Craig, Henrik Schwarz, Francesco…

    Fev 13 2010, 16h14

    Fri 12 Feb – Moritz von Oswald, Bugge Wesseltoft, Matmos, Carl Craig, Henrik Schwarz, Francesco Tristano, DJ Sprinkles, Andras Fox

    The realisation crept up on me rather slowly that this was a very special line-up. As soon as I heard that Moritz was performing, I'd booked tickets for Dan and myself. The only other time I'd caught Moritz performing live, apart his DJ sets was as Rhythm & Sound in the former Subterranea, Notting Hill with Tikiman a/o. The nostril and trouser quivering bass, full-frontal sonic attack, small audience and freedom to dance like a dervish made that experience one of my all-time favourites. Despite the subsequent, fascinating Recomposed and last year's Trio release, I doubted the evening would be anything like as profound an experience. Though very different, it turned out to be very special indeed.

    Of the people I spoke to, it seemed I was the only person to much enjoy Bugge's opening set. I'd seen a few short videos of the duo and hadn't been very impressed. However, their melding of house, techno and jazz in longform streams was a real pleasure. Bugge's return to a house/jazz marriage was very welcome given my love of his Moving album (his other masterpiece is the solo piano Im). Once or twice Bugge veered a little too close to Cafe del Mar territory for my taste, but their marriage of lyricism, percussive experiment and pleasure left me wanting to hear more.

    Despite thoroughly enjoying their set at The Scala a few years back, I wasn't at first sure what might interest me about them, Matmos turned out to be a pleasure exploring areas of body horror and acid-drenched Disney in a short, but perfectly formed set.

    The strikingly youthful pianist Francesco Tristano has performed with Craig, Oswald and orchestra and released an album produced by the latter. Neither had particularly engaged me. Saxophonist Andras Fox was a new name while the other two are surely the techno equivalent of royal family. All bar Fox were distributed across the stage positioned at instrument stations with Craig at the centre. They performed a single lengthy piece that morphed between sections without pause. The music began in a becalmed state with a 4/4 pulse so distant that I wondered whether it was emanating from outside. Fox improvised passages on bass and sopranino saxophones while Tristano supplied flourishes, melodic touches and comping. So far, so mundane, but what really impressed - what had me realise that I was experiencing something new and deliciously unfamiliar was the ambition and rigour of the music. The idea of marrying the techno grid to larger structures, improvisation and an approach that might best be termed symphonic sounds like an awful idea. However, the four of them made it work. Throughout, it felt like a tightrope, as if at any moment one of them might slip and bring the others crashing down.

    Very little and a hell of a lot happened in the 45 minutes (that's a pure guess) that the music lasted. It could have lasted much longer, but all too soon someone appeared on stage tapping his watch and indicating five minutes to go. The set received a mixed reaction from my friends, some enthusiastic, some not. I loved every moment and would be fascinated to be able to hear the music again. I hope they'll release a recording although it would be fascinating if the music went unrecorded, remaining only in memory.

    <img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-1335" title="Francesco Tristano, Carl Craig and Andras Fox" src=""; alt="Francesco Tristano, Carl Craig and Andras Fox" width="450" height="301" />

    Afterwards, in the RFH lobby DJ Sprinkles played a fine house set which Dan and I shuffled to for a little while. I had to leave reluctantly at midnight lest my carriage turn into a pumpkin and leave me stranded. What a marvellous night!

    This review originally published at A Personal Miscellany.
  • Review and pictures

    Nov 16 2008, 13h14

    Fri 14 Nov – Drifting and Tilting: The Songs of Scott Walker

    Wonderful, if mixed experience. Not a gig exactly, not a play either, but a hybrid of the two. Here's my review.