Sunday, 29 March 2009

Aymeric Hainoux and Take began the evening which launched the Elephant and Castles record label, who have been kind enough to release my new album. With a slow unfolding demonstration of their respective musical forms – slow, ambient reverb guitar and mouth-only drums and sounds – the first double act captured a spirit. The result was an extended piece of musical tension as warm noises, indecipherable from the guitar action that preceded them, rose over the top of increasingly urgent patterns generated by Aymeric's mouth and vocal chords as he edged his way around the room, uttering and spluttering half-complete syllables.

Following this was Mait̩ Arroitajauregi's solo performance for cello and voice, a dramatic live rendition of principles of repetition, looping string-strikes imbibed with emotive, direct Basque singing. Mait̩ and I were the two auslanders in the party and on the Sunday following the show, she, I and Victor walked slowly around the river, talking of identity, Bilbao and collaborative video art. A successful collaborator and teacher, this show Рas her third gig Рwas remarkable and was one of the only shows I've seen that rid me of my pre-performance nerves.

Pali Meursault played an engaging set based on field recordings and improvisations of resultant processing, borne of laptop but with a warmth and depth that filled the stereo channels and the heads of the audiences. Then it was Cawa Sorix from Grenoble, a dictaphone magician extraordinaire. Later that weekend he would talk of leftist politics, squat hierarchies and artistic survival in post-industrial France with the same lucid intensity as his cut-up, stuttering tape performances which bordered on musique concrete, samplist heaven and charades as he strode around the room writing suggestive genres on a giant whiteboard as a radio cycled through distant stations.

Then I played. Next followed by a stroke of curatorial genius with Le Lit, an absurd Dadaist set of Schubert covers and europop all delivered from a full size bed replete with props, disguises, costumes, functioning cooking equipment, electric bass, ridiculous keyboards and assorted instruments and percussion too numerous and ridiculous to mention. Beneath the comedy – and, following my set, people were ready to laugh – was serious musicianship and an ability to delve into songs to draw the heart of them into a room of people.

As an effort of ownership it was unparalleled, they borrowed the essences of each song and each audience member and over the space of an hour replaced them all in a different order. The rest we don't remember, but the evening spilled into the courtyard, the blanket of cloud and threat of rain lifted and we stayed till the early hours of the morning under the cold, cold stars. An unpredicted lift, then, to a long day of music in a strange white house somewhere in Paris. The intangibility of the event resonates here still.

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