Friday, March 27, 2015

concert/reading in Vienna

My current music projects include a new collaboration with writer Ines Birkhan for a series of concerts/readings - and we premiere a new one, called Dosenpfirsich (Canned Peach - it's in German but we plan to make an english version at some point), tomorrow. 

It's more than a reading over a music background, as text and music were conceived together, and I'm very happy with the result - it's not singing, it's not theatre, it's not exactly spoken words, it's a new attempt at creating a strongly evocative art work with minimalist means. The result is promising, we will keep developing this in the coming times for stage and video...

For this quiet solo project I need a more subtle sound than with my very noisy bands - so no accumulation of dirt pedals! My favorite pedal of the moment is the Boss OC-3 octaver, I never practice without it for weeks, and it makes me play some unusual funk lines - both bass and guitar! 

And since I'm playing at low level I start using the overdriven channel of my Fender Champion 100 - something I never thought I'd do (I bought it in emergency last year as I needed a new concert amp and couldn't afford a tube one - and used only the clean channel since), and it has very nice warm sounds that I can't get out of any of my pedals, and I couldn't have at this level with a tube amp I guess…

Monday, March 23, 2015

in mixing studio

Instead of enjoying the beautiful Viennese spring in parks and cafés like normal people, I've spent the last days in a studio with Martin Siewert (a.o. from acclaimed Austrian band Radian) and members of the Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna - we've been mixing eight songs picked from what we recorded in RadioKulturHaus last September. The plan is to look for a label and release a vinyl album soon - it's optimistic but we've been lucky so far with the residence and the recording, so why shouldn't it go on? And frankly, what we do is rather unique, so our music has to be heard! 

It was great to work with Martin, it's not obvious to find such a good sound guy that is also an experimental musician and has an immediate understanding of what people like us may ask, however bizarre or noisy the music. His studio combines digital and analogue machines (so far I only worked in 100% computer studios) and is cramped with diverse racks, old boxes and pedals (not to mentions plenty of amps, synthesizers and guitars, including extremely cool vintage european ones). I observed his work and tried to learn more about mixing, because sooner or later I'll have to go back to it if I want to go on with my new projects...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

more sketches

music of the week: lately I've been listening a lot again to what we recorded last fall with my band Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna, as we start mixing our first album today (actually right now I'm in the studio, having a break while some file are uploading). 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Daevid Allen has reunited with the Great Cosmic Mother

Today is a sad day, one of my music heroes, Mr Daevid Allen, just passed away. I've been listening to Gong all my life, and Angel's Egg was one of the first LPs I ever bought as a young teen - when it was badly out of fashion. I was always playing his music to my friends, even when everybody (including me) was only listening to punk, post-punk, industrial music and later techno or noise - and they always ended up loving it against all the odds. Now I play Gong to my child (whose name is the title of a Gong song - post-Allen Gong so he's not called Pothead Pixie nor Zero the Hero) and we dance to it… And lately - since I got me a wah pedal effect - when I play guitar with the Soft Power Ensemble of Vienna, I have reminiscences of Steve Hillage and try to just let go… (BTW Soft Machine was another band created by Daevid Allen).

Gong probably heavily influenced my later eclectic tastes in music, mixing rock, jazz, electronic music, trance, asian traditional music, sonic experimentations... - I also listened a lot to Daevid Allen's solo work with sounds cut-ups including William S. Burroughs' voice, and one of his sentences is haunting me since: 'you never existed at all'.  Few people are ever able to not take serious their own genius the way Daevid Allen did. You can easily overlook the poet and the composer and just remember him as a silly hippie clown, but maybe it's not bad this way… Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to see him on stage, even if I was living in Amsterdam on and off at the time of the Gong Unconvention. But I met him in his music and I'll meet him again and again, and spread his blessing.

Daevid Allen was one of the persons I wanted to thank for making my life better...

Dirty Primitives new EP

I just received Dirty Primitives' new EP and I'm not disappointed at all - their energy and creativity keep up to the standards they set in their first album (reviewed here), and they even go a step further -  their music sounds deeper and more focused to me. 

Here again Dirty Primitives manage to create a coherent sound while proposing very different songs - from the lengthy techno-blues Run Run Run with its abrasive minimal guitar riff supporting big vocals harmonies and dissonant solo guitar exploration, to the illbientesque Hold me and its combination of voice samples and acoustic noises on a slow tempo. These two songs like the others make this EP a manifesto stating that distorted guitar can be much more that just brutal - though they can do that too - but a perfect and sophisticated tool to dig into our emotions.

Because they respect nothing, Dirty Primitives also brilliantly cover Led Zeppelin's Dazed and Confused in a stripped down post-punk way - no more big voice and epic guitar effects and soloing, mostly just droning fuzz and spoken words - until the song shrinks to just one note and one beat - but the right note and the right beat! Much more fitting to my taste than the original to be honest, but hey, it's just me! And you'll also find No Pop Music, their 2013 exuberant tribute to David Bowie's Berlin phase, that was not released on CD so far. 

 You can listen to Dirty Primitives' EP - and buy it - here. And because you need to hear them live, you can contact them through their website to propose concerts - these guys must tour!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

more sketches

music of the week: I've been listening avidly to Africa Express's version of Terry Riley's In C performed in Bamako by malian musicians - with some prestigious guests like Damon Albarn and Brian Eno… Absolutely beautiful! I wish I could buy this music on CD because I still don't want to buy just an audio file - I'm a collector...

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