Sheikh: February 2010 Archives
The first big event in the Red Bull Music Academy calendar for London and they come out with all guns firing.
Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald. Two artists that have music enthusiasts salivating at the mere mention of their names. Both hugely influential, incredibly prolific and have been pretty much seeded the evolution of dance music with their DNA. Von Oswald has been a constant source of inspiration for me in particular with his work as Basic Channel. Whereas Craig has ably taken up the baton laid down by the forefathers of Detroit Techno and spliced it with the internal constructs of Jazz.
So it was a totally crushing blow to hear them performing something that was so uninspiring, so bereft of energy or grit that I was left dumbstruck, confused and saddened.
Craig and Moritz on electronics whilst Francesco Tristano manned the piano and David Brutti contributed with saxophone. It started off impressively with a distant 4/4 din that established rhythm was king. But over time the single 35-minute piece struggled to pick up and go anywhere interesting. Occasionally all four musicians managed to lock into a loop that worked, but it never held and rapidly descended into inconsequential dance music.
Didn’t help that the projected visuals was utter rubbish - part screensaver, part cliched rave fodder. The processor speeds might have improved but content-wise this didn’t look much better than those Amiga demo’s that I remember trading in the early-nineties. It also seemed to run its own narrative which had nothing to do with the music playing.
It genuinely felt like a spontaneous improvised collaboration. As if the artists turned up and just started jamming to see what would happen. Now you could argue that has the scope to produce something interesting but on this occasion, it clearly didn’t. I just wish they hadn’t had the Royal Festival Hall as a platform or charged money for the privilege.
If it wasn’t C2 / MVO on stage, I doubt it would have gotten the rapturous applause that it did. Their reputations clearly preceded the incredibly pedestrian music that had gone on earlier. Only DJ Sprinkles (aka Terre Thaemlitz) managed to lift my misery with a finely-tuned set of uptempo house music at the after-show jamboree in the Clore Ballroom.
Another Red Bull event I attended a few days later was the ‘3D-Soundclash’. Held in the loading bay of the Royal Albert Hall; which meant enduring (for the most part) tedious dance music in bollock-freezing temperatures. Apparently some sonic trickery was afoot with the sound system. Something about immersion, surround, quadrophonic, audio version of Avatar (?!). Anyway, it sounded shit whatever they wanted to call it. Uneven and struggling with the element that seems to elude most systems in London: frequencies in the 20 - 200hz range.
Actually ignore me on this subject. Moaning about the lack of decent systems in London has been something of a hobby of mine (as I write this, one of the few places that has had a consistently good system, Plastic People in Shoreditch, is being threatened with closure by Hackney Council). Just irked me that they couldn’t get the basics right before adding all that 3D nonsense.
Anyway, the range of artists playing didn’t help either. Thankfully brief sets from DJ Food - bless him, shouldn’t he put out to pasture? - to Clark (not the most enthralling stage presence) passed without incident. The monotony was saved near the very end by The Bug who turned up with the correct attitude. Realising the system was flawed decided that the only way to resolve things was to try and break it. Pushing levels as far as it could go, which amusingly resulted in the stiff masses eventually moving rhythmically.
I was impressed with the iTunes visualiser, looked nice projected that big.
Kouhei Matsunaga / Mika Vainio: Split (Important Records)
Massachusetts' Important Records release more unlistenable nonsense; lucky for them there seems to be an audience of sorts, the likes of which include me. Mika 'Pan Sonic' Vainio's single take effort ('Processing the dead minotaur') sounds like the death throes of a malfunctioning computer; unwashed tones and dark matter being violently abused. Kouhei Matsunaga's two tracks flirt with rhythm and sound to oddball effect. 'Purple wind' reminds me of synthetic electro-pop experimentation from the post-punk era, whilst 'Gapaddiction' spreads its wings and has something for everyone. A cornucopia of harsh noise, bleep techno, computer music and sub-bass. If you get it, then get it.
Don't intend to make this a habit, but just using this platform to mention some work stuff. As me and my friend / business partner Vijay (under the highly original collaborative name of FAIL) have completed a very small website for composer and musician Max Richter.
Of course I'm biased, but his back catalogue is completely amazing; rich, emotional, deeply electronic. Just get 'The Blue Notebooks' and work back from there. He has a new album coming out in March on FatCat, entitled 'Infra' and is composed specifically for a new ballet performance of the same name. The premiere of which starts at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London. From the 19th February to the 4th March. More information can be found at their website
In the meantime, here's a track from Max's YouTube channel which we also created:
A rarity that I actually get to go to gigs these days. But a free invite prompted me to attend the techno / jazz collision of Carl Craig (Techno ledge, Detroit native) and Moritz Von Oswald (Techno ledge, Berlin native) with Francesco Tristrano on piano and saxophonist Andras Fox at the Royal Festival Hall.
My friend Colin really liked it. I didn't. Tho DJ Spinkle's set afterwards was very impressive. More words of indifference from me soon. In the meantime, I did film it.....
Eleh: Floating Frequencies / Intuitive Synthesis III (Important Records) - LP originally released October 2008
'Phase One: Sleeps Golden Drones Again' is enclosed and tense; sawtooth alarm and slow air-raid siren made entirely of sub-bass matter. 'Phase Two: Bass Pulse In Open Air' is exactly that; bordering on the ambient, it's incredibly detailed and loaded with nuances that can only be appreciated on vinyl playback.
As the cover artwork truthfully states "Pure tone, pure sound, pure analog. Dedicated to Pauline Oliveros."