Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Three gigs, with economy

Back in September, Transcender was a superb join-the-dots night of deep media music, at St Luke's Church in Old Street, London. First, Zombie Zombie producer and saxophonist Etienne Jaumet joined Sonic Boom and Dhrupad-style vocalist Celine Wadier. The combination of Jaumet's channelled licks through his bank of effects, Sonic Boom's meandering oscillations and Wadier's deep warbles was a powerful one, setting things up well for the main event - James Holden's jam with Maalem Houssam Guinia and his Gnawa boys. Houssam has taken over the master (maalem) mantle from his deceased father (whose work with Holden and F Points on this ep i can never recommend enough) and, apart from a few false starts where Houssam couldn't get his guembri to do his bidding, really hit the spot with those driving lines, lively percussion, devotional style chanting and Holden's synth embellishments. One for the heads certainly.

... Sonic Boom with Etienne Jaumet and Celine Wadier oscillating widely/meditating deeply

A photo posted by Murray Withers (@muzzboxx) on

Fast forward a month or so and i was fortunate enough to get a trip to Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum to catch one night of Kraftwerk's run of performances of their classic albums - in 3D! In truth, they only played 3 or 4 of the scheduled Trans Europe Express, but this was a minor quibble as classic after classic came, the 3D imagery sucked you in and the Spanish/Basque contingent, in particular, seemed to really go for it. There is no surprising treatment of these familiar tunes, and the robotic, rail and other now-quaintly high-tech imagery too is familiar to anyone even roughly acquainted with their kraft, but that doesn't matter. There is a simple but profound joy in hearing these foundational moments of techno, pop and everything in between beautifully rendered on a great soundsystem and in the symapathetic surroundings of the Guggenheim's cavernous atrium. The 'boys' do a few encores until the finale sees three take their turns to exit stage right, leaving Ralf Hutter to bask in the fullest applause. As I said, a real treat to 'tick off' one of the retro acts on such a night, in such a great city.

Finally last week I caught Nadja's latest appearance at Dalston's Cafe Oto. We were fairly unmoved by Aidan Baker's solo more ambient diversions in the warm-up, though it sounded better after a refresher outside, but as a duo Baker and Leah Buckareff made a dark ocean of noise as twin guitar lines and incidental sounds are looped, distorted and embellished with growing intensity in one hypnotic set. With Buckareff's back to the crowd and Aidan slightly more of a performer, the walls of sounds built, little iterations having a big effect and eventually a dubstep-like low oscillation kicking in with real pressure. Whether it was generated live or off a preset, I had no idea, and neither was there any hint of individual tracks. Tommy and I both mused whether we'd like to see the narrative arc build and climax over three or four separate songs, but this was not what we got and it mattered little as the crushing sound took on a meditative effect. Their back catalogue is well worth a listen snd a look, as most of the punters did of their table of FX did when they'd finished.

(pictures from tommy)
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