Saturday, May 30, 2009
Still, Makino Takashi and Jim O’Rourke, The Seasons, 2009.
If a three-bar, bouncer-peppered, profit-centric venue like Music Hall of Williamsburg seems somewhat of stretch for a “show case” of what is ostensibly the most fiercely anti-commercial and anti-hegemonic music today, try a major metropolitan museum. Those of us who relied solely on the No Fun website for information on the lineup this year will be surprised to learn that the festival had not only one new home this year, but two — along with a brand new “Infinite Sound and Image” component, which is longhand for “film screening.” Recognizing that many of the artists on the bill this year are active outside the purely musical sphere — and, perhaps, that the noise experience in general is not only about what we hear, but, almost always also what we see and feel — Carlos Giffoni teamed with Rhizome’s ongoing “New Silent Series” for an afternoon of moving image work at the New Museum on the Bowery.
Read the rest on Tiny Mix Tapes.
Words: Emilie Friedlander
Like what we're doing here? Just a little pocket change gives Visitation Rites food to live on.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
As close to a scene report as contemporary noise can afford, No Fun Fest, with Carlos Giffoni at the helm, each year confronts problems of selection. Over three nights, some 25 acts say their piece, spanning a vast geography of provocation and anomie. But how to organize such a spread?
Issues of sequencing carved this first night into awkward, unconversant provinces. Reliance on the Music Hall’s single stage — in stark contrast to the Knitting Factory’s three variegated tiers last year — forced every juxtaposition and prevented sonic refuge anywhere but at the bars (three!) or the merch zone. Surely, this format appeals on some level, a force for equalization and eclecticism. Yet, all the same, it cripples the element of choice: the harshmongers were left out to dry during the set of antiseptic synth-wave excreted by Xeno and Oaklander — a curatorial choice that, in the name of variety, really debased the sense of fest-wide mission.
Read the rest on Tiny Mix Tapes.
Words: PRSE (here) and Emilie Friedlander (elsewhere)
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Mattin is a musician and performance artist from the Basque Country. He has produced a slew of releases under the names of Deflag Haemorrahge/Haien Kontra, Sakada, Billy Bao, and No More Music. He has also collaborated with many artists, including Drunkdriver, Margarita Garcia, Tim Goldie, Taku Unami and Tony Conrad, to name a few. His work mixes laptop electronics with politics and, in the case of Billy Bao, some harsh, deconstructed rock and roll. In the live setting, Mattin is subversive, sometimes abrasive, and always finding ways to undermind audience expectations and break the boundaries inherent to performance.
I began interviewing Mattin by writing back and forth with him via email; finally we sat down to talk further about his work. We decided it would be best to present what we came up with in the spirit of Mattin's work: without categorization or clear authorship. This is not an interview per se, as Mattin's words often become my words and I in turn have re-written and expanded upon some of his.
Are there lines that should not be crossed or cannot be crossed in a performance?
Do you mean like killing somebody? Like using somebody's head as a resonance box [Jon Abbey]? I do not mean to sound like a futurist, but machine guns have beautiful sounds!
I am more interested in bringing certain ideas that the situationists used in the urban environment into concert situations. I understand that this is problematic, in the sense that I am still an artist. The situationists did not want to have their personal stamp or the brand of an institution on their documentation.
After a concert in Madrid, somebody took my microphone and told me to stop. I was surprised and I did not know what to do. Somebody else told me that I should hang myself with the cord. I was even more confused. I went up to her and asked her, "why don't you do it? Here is the cord and here is my head." She said: "Fucking shut up." Afterward, I was thinking that I should have fought her for the microphone. What she did was fascist in the sense that she was censoring what she did not like.
Maybe the fascist was me but I leaned a lesson: to always ask myself, before a concert, how far I am willing to go with the situation, with what I am doing, how much integrity there is in what I am doing, and how much I am willing to give up. My physical health? Prison? Everybody hating me afterwards? Lack of recognition?
Violence, anyways, can be an effective way of breaking certain boundaries and connecting with a sensation of the real. I must say that only time that I experienced real violence was during a concert with Drunkdriver, when Berdan was swinging the microphone and hit me. I did not faint, so I continued to play. Even if I am interested in getting head-fucks in concert, l am not sure whether I want to get them literally. I was very confused after that concert; the whole conceptual approach did not work, but there was a very strong atmosphere and it seemed that everybody was feeling very intense.
This "strong atmosphere" is something difficult to quantify, but I think many performers have sensed it at certain times. Instead of being hypnotized in some orgiastic way, we are forced to reckon with an unexpected situation or to look at the event through a different frame. Something has been transgressed in the social hierarchy of the setting.
Violence is a difficult question, I am personally interested in a
psychological type of violence, in doing something subtle that can really disturb peoples expectations. The boundaries we create with limited expectations and the categories we ascribe to art are the most oppressive psychological factors, and the most difficult to overcome. They dictate separation and cause alienation. The goal is to identify those moments of separation, because those separations produce power structures and defend ideologies.
I remember seeing concerts where the musicians were very good, and the music was very good, but where what they were doing was something that I could just throw into a category. It would leave me with a feeling of emptiness. When a performance can be easily framed, it risks becoming impotent, no matter what energy or intentions lay at the heart of it. There is always a passive consumer mentality at work, and a market ready to exploit the artist. Even if this market pretends to be alternative, it is still about profiting from people.
A DETOURNEMENT OF ROLES OR IDENTITIES, A MORE PERFORMATIVE UNDERSTANDING OF APPROPRIATION.
You have an unusual relationship with you laptop, sometimes using it as a means of physical engagement with the audience.
One of the most important things that I get out of improvisation is the opportunity to play instruments against the grain. So if people usually stay in front of the screen, respecting only those little fucking patches that they have in front of them, letting the audience seem like they are just secondary to the situation, I am interested in doing the opposite: in socializing my interaction with the computer. It has cost me many motherboards.
Do your collaborations usually begin with a conversation or with a performance?
Either way, a conversation might be a way of putting a process forward, a process that exceeds the framework of the concert. There is no such thing as a neutral audience, or a perfect audience, or an audience where everyone has the same level of awareness about your work. So if everybody has a different relation to the performer's work, and to the situation that is at hand, I find it stupid to say that the performance is the only thing that matters, or the only place where things are going on. In terms of improvisation, many concerts start before the actual concert begins, with conversations that influence the playing.
Recently, I played a concert with Margarida Garcia and I said to her that I did not think I had anything interesting to play with my computer. I wanted to just plant myself in the audience and see what would happen if I was announced as a player in the concert but then discovered just sitting there in the crowd, the only sound I produced being the clapping at the end, along with the rest of the audience. This was probably the concert where the most attention was on the other players, as I did not have worry about my shitty playing. And it was amazing!
Being given the role of performer is a kind of alienation. Being a member of the audience is alienating as well. It's funny how the concert situation falls into a submissive pattern when one would think that it should be a moment of liberation.
It can be very lonely on stage because it transforms you into a very particular subject, like a rock star, and this somehow distances you a whole lot from the audience. You are suddenly this gifted artist who commands respect, rather than another pathetic human being. Don't get me wrong: I am saying this about myself. If the danger is gone, that means this desperation has become a commodity. And I am not just talking about physical danger here.
Words: Alessandro Keegan/Mattin
Photo: Hrvoje Goluza
Monday, May 11, 2009
polyrhythm [pol-ee-rith-uhm], noun.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Moha! + Rature
Mardi 12 mai - 20h - 5€
3, rue de Bitche
Organisé par Cable# et Forcebéton
Magnetix + Action Beat + Human Toys
Vendredi 15 mai - 20h - prix libre
Chemin de la Peloussière
Organisé par Les Loubardes Pédées
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Curated by Maxime Guitton/Ali_Fib Gigs
poster by Zeloot
Read more about it in Arthur Magazine
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Aries - The Ram - March 20 to April 20
This is the beginning of a new two-year cycle for you. If you started any new projects last month around the time of your birthday, you will have lots of energy to really get them off the ground. If you haven't initiated anything new, now would be a good time to begin gathering your ideas; towards the end of the month you will experience an extra push that, with a bit of effort, will really jump-start that new song or composition.
Although you might have a tendency to be a bit more argumentative than usual this month, you'll find that you really enjoy being with people. So be sure to go out and socialize--not only for networking, but also for the new input and ideas that taking the time to hang out with people brings.
Those of you born after April 8 should be careful not to overdo it at parties or club dates, as present influences favor excess. Happily, when applied properly, this energy can also allow you to become completely at one with your music, which should normally result in particularly dazzling performances. All in all, an excellent time for performing and touring.
Taurus - The Bull - April 21 to May 21
Feeing a bit discouraged or low on self-confidence? Don't worry, it's only a passing phase. You're at the end of a cycle that started two years ago, so now would be a good time to review what you have accomplished and bring any unfinished projects to a conclusion.
You may feel inspired this month to take a new direction in your work or to make an adjustment on an existing project. The opening weeks of May favor gathering your thoughts on this new direction, or simply reflecting on what you've done with your music up to this point. By the end of the month, you should experience greater clarity on this subject.
While your energy might not be at its highest this month, practicing or maintaining the discipline of keeping your daily appointment with the muse (whether she shows up or not!) will normally be possible with only minimal prodding. Generally speaking, the energies this month favor any kind of research or inner searching.
Gemini - The Twins - May 22 to June 22
With your birthday coming up soon, this would be a good time to put the finishing touches on that song or project you've been working on, if you haven't done so already. In any case, you'll be brimming with all kinds of new ideas for projects. But don't take on more than you can handle, even though you'll probably want to, due to all the energy and good vibes you've been feeling.
This month will be an excellent time for networking and socializing, because you'll be feeling good about yourself. So go ahead and throw that party or organize that dinner you've been meaning to invite your friends to. Go out as much as possible, hang out with friends, and meet new people. Just be careful to avoid being overly indulgent, because you'll certainly be tempted to!
If you have been feeling that you've been stuck in a rut lately, then you'll probably find it difficult at the beginning of the month time to break out of it. Don't give up! Be patient, take a step back, and analyze the situation. Continue to search for new solutions; with a little application, you're sure to find one by the end of May.
Cancer - The Crab - June 23 to July 22
You'll have a lot of energy this month--possibly too much--so make sure you have outlets to release it. This would be a good time to go on a road tour, which would not only be fun, but allow you to meet new people, make many contacts, and generally be more outgoing than you usually are. There might be a tendency towards self-gratification of various sorts, so be careful not to overdo it at the bar--especially before the gig--and avoid packing chocolate bars while traveling: you want to look good up there on stage!
This month favors new activities and projects of all sorts; your life will have a more exciting quality than usual. Normally, now is not the time to sit around all day composing, unless you are really on an exciting new track or direction. In any case, you'll really want to get out there and do and see as many new things as possible.
An energy is present this month that will test the validity of something you started approximately six months ago, possibly looking for any flaws in your preparation. If you can consciously examine what you've been doing up to now, you should be equal to any challenges that may arise. Ego conflicts may come up from time to time, especially for those of you born before June 25. For all Cancers, it will pay to be on guard against irritable impatience with others when things do not go exactly as you planned. But aside from this, your relationships with others should go fairly smoothly this month.
Leo - The Lion - July 23rd to August 22
You will have lots of energy that you can direct towards your work this May, be it composing new songs or compositions, or collaborating with others. Relationships with band members or other colleagues will generally be smooth, because you'll be generating warm Leonean vibes for the most part.
At the start of the month, you might experience a test or challenge to your projects. Meet these challenges head on, as you'll have the energy and clarity of mind to do so. Given sufficient application on your part, confronting these obstacles will result in fresh impetus towards the end of the month, or perhaps even a new direction.
Mercury going retrograde after the 7th favors introspection of all kinds. Review your goals
and examine how well you are working to achieve them. Perhaps it is time for a change of strategy? Is it time to collaborate with others if you are not already doing so? While collaborations of all kinds are favored during May, make a special effort towards the end of the month to really listen to others and try to see things from their point of view in order to reconcile conflicts. If you're working alone, this would be a good time to see if there are any weak points in your thinking.
For those born between August 15 and 22, be careful about overextending yourself or going overboard--particularly with regard to buying equipment you don't need, because you'll probably be tempted to do so. You may find that you alternate at times between being completely confused about your musical direction and literally bursting with fresh ideas and the feeling of being one with your music. Don't worry about extremes like this for now, because it's normal, given present influences. This is a time of discovery for you, so be sure to keep your appointment with the muse every day no matter what! You'll be glad you did.
Virgo - The Virgin - August 23rd to September 22
Things should flow fairly smoothly in May. At the beginning of the month, take a look at any projects you have that have been going well and whip them into shape, so that they are ready to withstand any initial challenges or tests later in the month. The stress in your life will normally be relatively low at the moment, so you can firm up your affairs now with a minimum of stress.
Don't forget to examine any projects or matters that have not worked out so well, and decide whether you should cut your losses or not. It may be a bit difficult to determine which are worth saving, but you can do it. Those that feel better subjectively than the others will be the ones to go for.
Those of you born in the first twelve days of September might feel a bit fatigued this month. If this is the case, concentrate only on the projects that really need your attention--especially the ones that you may not want to do, but feel that you have to in order to fulfill your obligations to others.
For those born between September 13 and 20, pay attention to any restless feelings you may be having and try to find out what it is that you want. This is an influence where you can find that new sound you've been searching for all these months, or even years. Of course you'll need to do a bit of digging, but you'll find what you are looking for if you keep at it!
Libra - The Scales - September 23 to October 22
In May, you'll really want to have as many interactions as possible with friends and colleagues, and your powers of communication will be at an all-time high. This is an excellent time for touring or getting out of your studio to do a bit of serious networking and partying.
You'll also want to bring at least some of your projects to a culmination this month; this is certainly a time when some of your various activities will come to a climax. It will soon become clear whether you have conducted these activities skillfully or not. Once it does, you can adjust your course to bring them to a successful finish.
Your ego energies are easily aroused under present influences, so try to avoid unnecessary confrontation with others, as you'll probably be a bit irritable this month. If this happens, notice your anger and irritation and ask yourself what these emotions tell you about your attitudes. You may find that what makes you mad is quite unimportant to you, once you recognize it.
For those born between October 14 and 22, a strong Jupiter/Neptune conjunction gives you abundant intuitive insight into your musical endeavors. Writing and all forms of creative inspiration are favored at this time, so while you'll definitely want to go out partying, don't forget to keep your daily appointment with the creative muse; there are fertile grounds to be harvested this month!
Scorpio - The Scorpion - October 23 to November 22
This is a period when things are likely to come together in one way or another, either in terms of your career or in the personal dynamics occurring within the context of your band. If a career opportunity should come up this month, be sure to make an effort and milk it for all it's worth! Doing so will bring quick results at this time.
Power struggles might occur this month. If there are any underlying tensions brimming below the surface with your manager, booking agent, or any of the other people with whom you work closely, try seeing things from their point of view and working towards a consensus, rather than being stubborn and deciding to do things your way no matter what. The latter attitude, at present, would cause resentment and perhaps even massive resistance.
This is a time of culminations of all sorts, and failure is, of course, always a possibility as well. Should this occur, don't get discouraged. Be prepared to pick up the pieces and learn from any mistakes that were made. Don't worry, you'll find a new direction; in fact, present energies favor this.
For those of you born between November 14 and 21, an inner energy will be present that will open up a real opportunity to tap deeply into your musical resources, arriving at new ideas and previously unexplored directions.
Sagittarius - The Centaur - November 23 to December 22
Apply yourself to your current projects and continue to heroically plow ahead, despite any resistance you might meet. If you're feeling restless and a bit undisciplined at the start of the month, buckle down and get your act together, because things should come to a head towards the end of May, when everything will begin to click into place. You'll normally be full of ideas, and with a bit of effort, you'll be able to apply them to your musical projects.
If you feel as though you are stuck in a rut, this would be a good time to tear yourself away from your studio, get out more to see your friends, and perhaps get a little networking done, since you will feel an urge to socialize more than usual. Relations with the band or your colleagues should go smoothly. However, if for some reason they do not, don't worry! It should be relatively easy to resolve any conflicts, due to the generally good vibes you'll be feeling on a psychological level.
An influence is also present which favors having sex, so be sure to have as much as possible of it this month. By all means, take advantage of every opportunity--always remembering, of course, to take the necessary precautions. In any event, this should be a stimulating month in every sense.
Capricorn - The Goat - December 23 to January 21
Things will normally flow fairly smoothly at the start of the month, and you will be at peace with yourself for the most part. That being the case, it might be a good idea to evaluate your current projects; in all likelihood, this smooth state of affairs will not, alas, last forever! See which of your projects are really working, and which ones need a bit of fixing up. If you decide that you need to make a new start on certain things, don't become morose and gloomy over it. Instead, get to work on making things better straight away. This will not be as hard as it sounds, for discipline will come relatively easily to you this month; now is the time to take advantage of it.
If here are any tensions that have been brewing under the surface between you and your bandleader, manager, or any other authority figure, they are likely to come to a head sooner than later. If you become really pissed off, try not to explode, as doing so won't help things--particularly at the start of the month. Instead, strive to see the other person's point of view. Do like Obama does, and try to come to a consensus of some sort! Or, if at all possible, avoid any touchy issues entirely until the end of the month; at that point, you'll be in a better mood for discussing difficult topics and will be seeing things more clearly.
This is a good time to make changes in your immediate surroundings, whether it's rearranging the furniture in your studio, or bringing interesting new people into your life. In fact, your everyday encounters with people and situations are likely to get much more interesting in May. Chances are your situation has become too structured and ordered anyway, so don't be afraid to take a walk on the wild side, should the opportunity arise.
Aquarius - The Water Carrier - January 22 to February 20
You'll be challenged at this time to think about completing your various projects to reap their rewards or other consequences. In the back of your mind, you are probably already beginning to turn your attention to what the next step will be for your career or projects, even though circumstances are forcefully reminding you that the present stage isn't over yet. The challenges at this time are often related to events that started three months ago. Your energy is high, so this is a good time to accomplish all kinds of work.
Your mind is functioning relatively clearly now; it is quick and receptive, and you are eager to expand your knowledge of any area you encounter. You can put this curiosity to good use and quickly discover that the more you understand about any given situation, the better you will be able to handle any problems that arise.
If you are looking for a new agent or record company, you are putting out positive energies at this time and can use this to make a good impression on people you want to impress. In fact, May is a good time for any group interaction, and you will want to hang out with friends or the members of your band. You'll have faith in your ability to achieve and you'll be able to work well with others. You will not, however, be inclined to back down in any matter. If you should have to fight with someone to maintain your position, you will do so effectively, although you will want to seek out common ground where the two of you can agree--should there be any.
For those born between February 7 and 16, Jupiter/Neptune contacts indicate that you'll probably feel good both physically and psychologically, and have a positive outlook for much of the month. Your awareness of and contact with music will be greatly heightened, and this is something you will definitely want to take advantage of, because this energy will not last forever. However, you should avoid taking drugs or overindulging in alcohol this month, for you may find it difficult to control your use of them. Also, your body is much more sensitive than usual, and you may react badly to drugs, even prescribed ones. That being said, this period should be highly profitable for you. Musically speaking, great intuitive leaps in your work are not out of the question!
Pisces - The Fish - February 21 to March 19
Examine any projects that you've started over the past few months in order to see how they have been coming along. It's important that you do this now, because in about 30 days, challenges will arise that will test their validity. Don't be caught in the illusion that you can simply stick your head in the sand and hope for the best; rather, evaluate what you have accomplished so far and decide upon a logical plan of development. Your mind is quick and functioning clearly at present, so doing this should easily be within your reach.
Communication with colleagues might be a bit difficult during the first half of the month, and you may feel somewhat isolated. Your energy level might be on the low side as well. Best to find something rewarding to do that requires concentration. You will need to find a balance between your needs and obligations, for neither can be allowed to win out over the other. If duty wins out to the point of negating your self-expression, you will feel impossibly restless. But if you ignore your obligations and do only what you choose, you will soon find that you are in conflict with others, which will prevent you from deriving any real satisfaction from your activities. You will clearly have to make some compromises, but if you are honest in expressing your needs to others and asking that they do the same, you should be able to work things out.
For those born between March 11 and 18, a contact with Uranus may bring about events or situations that are quite surprising to you, breaking you out of your usual routine and introducing an element of liveliness to spice things up in your life. Surprise will probably crop up at some point soon; when it does, give yourself the freedom to respond spontaneously, perhaps in a way that surprises even yourself!
Rhys Chatham is a composer from New York who has lived in Paris since 1988.
Art Work: Florian Quistrebert
Like what we're doing here? Just a little pocket change gives Visitation Rites food to live on.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Sacred Object of the Yiye People, the debut LP from England’s The Hunter Gracchus, is a cacophony of improvisation, acoustic noise, and obscure literary and cultural references. The odd charm of the album emerges through an interplay between unconventional rhythm and hypnotic melody. Sacred Object's Bedouin influences stand out in a number of the tracks and make it traveling, richly textured, and entirely enthralling.
The album is constructed like a journey, with “elkadria priests’ ransacking of the PNAC offices—parts 1 to 3” and “for naguib mahfouz” neatly bookending the work as the departure and the arrival. In “night is our tryst when silences ring as the pause of bells,” sounds float in and out of earshot, finally culminating in a duet between accordion and drums filled with the drudgery of movement. The second half of side a, featuring “with the fire of ogun, the axe-handed one” and “the blood never dried”, is jarringly dissonant. Heavy-handed percussion overpowers the initially delicate tones, and we hear the only traditional instrumentation of the album: slightly distorted guitar riffs and the rhythm of a steam locomotive.
Side b is more melodic, but not by much. Starting with “the pineal eye,” a sawing violin becomes an ambient metronome, and short gasps of accordion and percussion punctuate the melody. The drums are still there, but they become a melodic undertone, not like the pronounced rhythms of side a. Their musical influences are as much Bedouin street jams as contemporary noise and dream folk.
Some tracks open with the first notes of a carnivalesque accordion, only to become a repeated melody of four notes. These beginnings are like biting into a street hotdog: the bun feels artificial and misplaced, a barrier you have to get through to get to the meat inside. Once you’re in, the sound mirage is intoxicating and the improvisation becomes organic psychedelia.
After the initial opening, the listener must wait for rhythmic meditation to begin, and it’s not always evident in what direction a song is going. One exception to these misdirected openings is "naguib mahfouz,” the album’s closing track, in which ethereal voices, coupled with Hunter Gracchus’s signature heavy violin, create an interplay of surprising intensity. This is a song that I could be born / die / be buried to; it washes over you in layers and waves, evoking the water themes in The Hunter Gracchus, the Franz Kafka story from which the band takes its name.
Organically and acoustically, The Hunter Gracchus breaks musical sound into noises that don't seem to be coming from the instruments that produce them: a rhythmic clatter turns to stretched rubber; a squeak, combined with light rhythms, becomes the call of a caged chicken on a cinematic caravan of Bedouin traveling.
Many of their song titles contain clues to the band’s influences. These references range from populist political bravado ("elkadria priests’ ransacking of the PNAC offices” and "the blood never dried" speak to the ex-subjects of the British Empire) to Arabic and Bedouin culture and literature (“with the fire of ogun, the axe-handed one” and “the greater the jibbah, the greater the blessing”). The cover art and album title are taken from artists Olga and Alexander Florensky's creation of a fictitious people, and of the ethnographer who studies them.
One problem with Sacred Object is that few of these references seem to lead anywhere; they add context but not dimension. Perhaps this is the lot of 21stcentury music: to draw connections where there are none, in deference to the dream of universal knowledge. While the disconnect between the alien music and abstruse literary and cultural references in the titles may make The Hunter Gracchus seem like a pretentious scenester band, their music is genuinely good.
Words: Nicholas Wells
Like what we're doing here? Just a little pocket change gives Visitation Rites food to live on.