Thursday, May 26, 2016

Reaching for the cosmos

(picture used without permission, sorry)

2016 is definitely the worst year, and my blog will soon be more about dead musicians than about guitars... Alto saxophonist Marco Eneidi was not David Bowie or Prince, and his death will not make more headlines than his life or music... But those who knew him will remember him with fondness and gratitude. 

Marco passed away yesterday after a lifetime dedicated to uncompromising  art. Though he performed with the greatest free jazz musicians in the US and Europe, and released or played on numerous records since the mid-80s, his reluctance to please had him struggle for survival all his life, and keep on at the age when artists are either successful or gave up - until the very end. 

I met him when I moved to Vienna where he has been living since 2004 and where he organised the The Neu New York/Vienna Institute of Improvised Music - a weekly improv session where touring musicians would meet Viennese improvisers for a common practice of free music. After years of playing solo when I was in Berlin, that's where I learned again sharing and improving myself at he contact of fellow improvisers.

I never saw Marco on stage, I only heard him in the Celeste Jazzkeller club, never further than 3 meters from me. His saxophone sounded like thunder, it was like concentrating the energy and anger of 10 men into one column of air. All his music was about how mastering a technic could free your creativity, and it was a precious inspiration for any musician who would listen to him. Playing with him was truly uplifting, challenging but not intimidating for he was a generous man and artist. Sometimes at the end of a session he would go to the piano and hammer it with the same energy - and you found it also in the spontaneous poetry he was posting on Facebook...

Marco was living in Mexico since last year, as he was expelled from Austria for not regularising his administrative situation. It's not as bad as what Austria currently does with Syrian refugees, but it shows how stupid ideology and bureaucracy can be - and loose valuable people to a country. A few weeks ago he was touring Europe and came to play at the improv session in Celeste but I failed to go - too tired, busy with the baby... Huge mistake, I will never play with him or hear him live ever again.

Thank you for everything,  Marco.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

more sketches

You might have noticed that my posting has been scarce in the last months, but I have a very good reason for that (I always have a good reason, have I not?): since last December I am the proud father of a baby girl (sleeping in my arms as I write these words) and my priorities have shifted. But I'm coming back slowly to my guitar-based activities - concerts, projects, design... More instrument-based projects actually, since my synth collection increased and I've been practicing with them more than with guitars - it's easier to play keyboards/MIDI interface with a baby on your lap (I'm an adept of attachment parenting, but it's another story...) 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Dancing on Ashes (Circle) in Pinacoteca

Tomorrow I will perform again a projected text + music show I created 5 years ago in Berlin - one of my few theremin based projects. It will also be the first Angel Meat performance in the last years...

This heap of pedals allows me to create a quadrophonic soundscape - just from the sound of the theremin (I couldn't use so many effects with a guitar, I had to make a performance for too many pedals!) The place is called Pinacoteca and is a small but very nice independent gallery in Vienna, with cheerful and supportive people.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

One Love Machine Band

A couple of weeks ago I saw the One Love Machine Band - the love child of Berliner artist Kolya Kugler - perform in Vienna, and as you can see its robotic bass player Afreakin plays a real bass with fingers... Music playing robots belongs often more to field of puppetry than to music, but I do enjoy them - the teenage cyberpunk in me I guess... 

Though it sticks a little bit too much to the rules of the genre - trash aesthetics, humanoid form, decorative details -, One Love Machine Band has something I've never seen before: it's playing neither metal music or techno, but as its name indicate, music rooted in reggae. And because of its simplicity and rawness, it sounds quite like early Public Image Ltd - a mix or post-punk and dub I particularly enjoy (Kolya and his metal friends actually opened for PIL in Switzerland last year and composed and played a tribute song, but he told me that he was totally snubbed by an unimpressed John Lydon). 

Seriously, I totally see myself fronting such a robot combo - lately I try myself at playing with drum machines and bass sequencer but it can't beat musicians, even when you love electronic music. The One Love Machine Band has it all - it can play repetitive and minimal lines but the approximation of pneumatic movement generates a lively groove.   

Afreakin's feet are BMW labeled engine parts - Kolya claims that it stands for Bob Marley & the Wailers... 

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