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Wolff: 18 April 2007

 Posted by Marc Urselli  United States  Edit (3553)
Apr 19 2007
Live Act(s): Wolff
Event Date: 18 April 2007
Type of Event: Small Club Concert
Venue: Pianos (upstairs)
Rated: *****
I went to Piano's to see the promising Seattle pop/rock singer Nina Kari but I ended up staying for the entire set of the following act, Wolff, when I saw his set up and heard the first song. Original and unique are definitely keywords here. Wolff is a tuba player who mic'ed his instrument to run it through a bunch of pedals, looping devices, filters and other effects. Basically any sound you hear comes from/through the tuba. He huffs and puffs the kick and hi hat of a typical techno/dance beat into the brass mouthpiece, loops that and then goes on to the next mouth-originated and tuba-ized sound effect. Occasionally he'll tap the tuba with his hands or some metal sticks to create more complex rhythmical figures, but mostly everything is mouth-made. The resulting is an enticing electronic music orchestration of lo-fi beats and other sounds that will very quickly make you forget where the sound just came from, while leaving you focusing on the real time manipulations that Wolff is performing between one layer and the next. Interestingly Wolff also sings (again, through the tuba, which takes some pressure off having to sing on pitch), loops himself singing and keeps repeating anthems of some sort that I couldn't make out but that he had jotted down on a notepad (hence I assume he actually has lyrics). Think of it as a foghorn-sounding ancient tribe chief chant, or maybe you can try imagining early Cop Shoot Cop and Laibach influences.
This kind of looping technique is not ground-breaking, we've seen it a million times, maybe mostly utilized by guitar players, but I personally had never seen it used with/through a tuba, so that really caught my attention. Plus the singing in that way makes it even more personal and less redux. I think this guy deserves some attention and should be playing venues and shows where most people actually care about electronic music (I can see him playing at NYC"s Warper nights).
Feb 22 2007
Live Act(s): FESTIVAL DE L’EREBE II
Event Date: 18 February 2007
Type of Event: Big Stage Concert
Venue: La Locomotive
Promoter/Organizer: Elianor, La Bibliothèque du Cénacle, Elegy
Rated: *****
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This great festival has been a wonderful surprise for me: I planned to go to Paris just for a short holyday, and didn’t expect to see any concert but, once discovered the event, how could I refuse so many bands (mostly French) playing together, from 15 to dawn, in the same place?
La Locomotive is a big venue just next to the Moulin Rouge, with 2 different stages (Main and Underground one), and an upper flood for the exposition of gothic shops/painters/tattoo. Everything was well organised, and no incidents occurred. About the concert, sometimes I had to decide which band I’d like to see, because they were playing at the same time on different stages, and I don’t like very much to see 10 min of one and 10 minutes of the other, going back and forth and never "entering" the feeling of the concert. I hope I decided well, even though I can say that I felt more comfortable with the Underground Stage, with hot bands playing a bloody gothic rock, and where being close to their public doesn’t mean only talking with silly groupies after the exhibition.
Due to some problems I arrived late to see CRACK OV DAWN and LITURGY OF DECAY, and I’m really sorry because I was quite curious about them. The first band I can hear is MASNADA, playing a sort of nu-metal: sometimes I heard some analogies with Papa Roach, but more obscure. The band, who released two albums, sings in French, and on stage has a great scenic impact and an aggressive sound that is remarkable. Their genre usually isn’t my cup of tea but I did like them, and so did the public, still a bit cold but singing their songs.
On the other stage I can see the VOICES OF MASADA, an UK band previously unknown to me. And they’re a very good discovery, because their sound is deep and intense and their "British Gothic Rock" (as they describe themselves) is really a pleasure for my ears. On the beats of a drum-machine, the pulsing bass and the energetic guitar melt together, creating a landscape for the good vocal performance of the singer Raymon. Their songs mix energy, passion and choruses you can remember, and I like their care for aesthetics. Definitely a very good band, on the path of Fields of the Nephilim, but with their own personality: I bought their two albums as soon as they ended the concert!
Still on the Underground stage come the French band DEADCHOVSKY. They’ve a particular visual impact, with the singer/bassist Afterglauk dressed as a psychedelic painter and also the other members with particular dressing. The music, too, isn’t conventional: they play a mixture of punk/dark with an artistic and theatrical approach, with songs "in your face" and songs more difficult to catch at first listening, with waltzing rhythm and a more cabaret-oriented voice. Their exhibition is an astonishing delirium, with public in love with them: "Solène is a Batcave" makes people jumping everywhere. If you like psychotic songs with vigorous rhythm section (very good the basslines), a sharp guitar and horrorific keyboards, they’re the band you need.
Due to the contemporaneous exhibition, I didn’t see much of JADALLYS. Their "fairy rock" consists of a gothic metal rhythm with female voice, and this can appear as the same meat loaf already known. But I think they’re different because Selene’s voice isn’t always soft and ethereal, but knows how to scream and does it many times (do you remember Guano Apes?). The songs aren’t plain and slow, but aggressive, moving, rhythmical and make you shake and feel the beat with all your body. Yet, they have also an ethnic influence they’ve shown in some particular tribal drum arrangements and in a song that was a duo between voice and djambé.
KATZENJAMMER KABARETT is another French band with a really particular and personal approach. They describe themselves ad Deathrock Cabaret, and I think never a definition has been better. The audio of the concert is terrible, with bass and keyboards covering everything else, and instruments not melting in an unique sound. Despite these problems, I can hear that their songs are nice, rhythmical and melodic, with Mary Komplikated’s voice like a crazy Siouxie. Dressed like a moustached pirate with tricorn, she dances and together with the other members transmits a sense of happy insanity, a ship of fools coming to shock the audience and make people jump and dance. The only problem is that after some time I feel bored of cabaret-style voice and I need an old-fashioned singing with choruses I can listen and remember (on the album the songs seems to be more immediate).
About DARK SANCTUARY’s, their serious and hieratic exhibition is a strong contrast after all the death-rock bands seen till now. Their gloom atmospheres and the heavenly voice are really ecstatic, with beautiful arrangements: they surely aren’t like the usual clones of Dead Can Dance. Deep are their sounds, with all the instruments magically plaited together, and over all the superb voice of their singer. When drums starts playing, the sound becomes more and more powerful, like a storm approaching or like an army marching, with keyboards, violins, cello, bass, bagpipe giving voice to the darkest feelings. A refined and not easy-listening band, but what a pleasure when you discover their world.
VIOLET STIGMATA is a band I already knew and adored. "Energy" is the only word that can describe a performance that took me like in a whirlwind. A temple of fire on stage, with the audience shouting and slam-dancing. "Cut the Flesh Wires" is the song that makes the unbelievable happen, with people jumping and dancing even on the ceiling. All the band is a concentrate of power, and knows how to involve the listeners; the singer is great, has personality to sell, even though his voice live has a different tone, without all the effects it has on cd. Their exhibition is so intense that they exhausted my reserve of strength, but they seem to have unending resources.
COLLECTION D’ARNELL ANDREA are an historical band born in the far 1986, with about ten albums in their career and a particular way of composing that mix electronic beats, classical instruments, electric guitar. Compositions like pearls, crystal-clear and passionate, perfect in their balance between harmony and movement. The big room is crowded, and they receive a strong support from the audience. In my opinion, their perfection is too much for a live concert, in the sense that they could appear cold and their message couldn’t reach the listener or catch him. That’s what happened to me: on records I found them great, but live something was lacking, like there was an abyss between me and the band playing on stage.
CHARLES DE GOAL is an institution for French New Wave, starting in 1980 and playing still today a rock with post-punk energy and rough melodies. Instruments are raped in aggressive way, transmitting a harsh feeling, with light distortions but great power. Charles de Goal is in the middle between Elvis Costello and an intellectual chansonnier. Older than the other bands, this ensemble isn’t "old" at all: they play with a vigour and a passion unknown to many younger gothic bands more interested in their hairstyle than in music they play. That’s Charles de Goal, an ensemble without compromise that plays naked to the bone, a bloody and "real" rock.
Underground: that the word we can use to describe that wonderful character that is JACQUY BITCH! The ex-Neva singer plays in a terrible situation, with drums that seem to come from the other room, so low they are and giving no power to the concert, and this visibly annoys him. It’s a pity because songs are quite pleasant, particular, melodic even though powerful and not foreseeable. He has the same voice as in the past, but the energy he gives off is ten times more then ever. Sometimes the distorted bass covers everything but, despite everything against, the performance is fantastic and public listens to him forgetting the Cinema Strange starting playing in the other room. The new songs remember something of the last Rozz Williams’ vocal approach, but I can’t mention one song in particular that is better than the other, for all are very good. I can only say that when the band starts "Louchald" from Neva era, the world falls apart.
About CINEMA STRANGE I haven’t much to say, because most of the time I was in the underground room looking at Jacquy Bitch’s concert. I think they’re an interesting band, with well-played and well-composed songs, morbid and obscure... but there’s something that doesn’t appeal me. Probably, as said before, the cabaret approach with voice lamenting and crying they have in quite all the compositions annoys me too much. They play live still without the drummer and, as usual, you love them or you hate them. I’m in the middle with a tendency for the second choice, but I could change my mind if in the future something will prove I’m wrong. Anyway, they’ve so many fans they don’t need another more.
TORS OF DARTMOOR are great. The singer Rüdiger Frank has one of the deepest, warmest and profound voices I ever heard in dark/gothic scene. They play compositions from their previous albums and from the last album "Chapter VI". The Bauhaus’ cover "Bela Lugosi is Dead" has been received with thundering applause, while "Welcome to the House" embraces with its fascinating atmosphere, such as "Scottish Rain". "God Gave No More" and "Chapter One" are other wonderful songs, powerful and passionate. Surely the concert could be better with a real drummer and/or bass player, but the duo Rutger Franck-Wolf Koch does its best to involve the audience. They’re a great band, but they deserve more than they got in their career, and I hope they’ll get because if you see them live you fall in love with them.
I saw only one song of INKUBUS SUKKUBUS, because of the T.O.D. concert and because I don’t like too much this ensemble. A too metal (for my taste) rhythm section and too pop oriented vocals makes the band something already heard and not so interesting, compared to what I had listened till now. Some songs are undoubtedly nice, but I can’t really enjoy their exhibition.
The aesthetics of FRANK THE BAPTIST is like an undertaker style mixed with a kitsch death-rock approach. Their performance is energetic, pleasant, really a good ensemble to listen to. The songs from the forthcoming album are in same path of the previous, with a good balance between power and melody.
I didn’t see TERMINAL CHOICE: it was too late for me and, anyway, I don’t like them too much. They seem to me to be the usual German band that consider Gothic only a way to play pop music with a makeup, using a kitsch or fetish aesthetics and drumbeats I usually hear in commercial discos. Sorry, not what I think dark/gothic is.
Feb 21 2007
Live Act(s): Tim Keiper (@)
Event Date: 20 February 2007
Type of Event: Small Club Concert
Venue: the Stone
Rated: *****
Can a drummer/percussionist hold a stage for a whole hour without boring anybody? Sure he can, if he is Tim Keiper and he is as creative and resourceful as he Tim is.
Probably be best known in the downtown music scene as one of the percussionists in Cyro Baptista's group Beat the Donkey (http://www.cyrobaptista.com/page.cfm?content=btd), Tim has obviously something to say on his own and he got a chance to do so yesterday night, at Zorn's East Village spot the Stone, in front of an excited full house.

Using everything from 12 drums sticks taped together to make a 15 feet long drum stick to his custom children-toys-modified bike steering wheel slash cymbal stand; playing drums with EVERY imaginable object (even Chevrolet car rims) and all four of his body limbs; going to the bathroom (mic-ed for the occasion) to do animal calls with his mouth and some secret toys; singing, screaming and doing spoken word through tom toms and/or coffee maker parts; playing drum sticks with his mouth as if they were a jew's harp and displaying AND playing his mind boggling installation of wind-up carion-type instrument parts, mirrors, christmas lights and electronics to manipulate the sounds coming out of the giant contraption; singing African-sounding chants while playing drums or shuffling his uyot-seeds-rattle-strapped feet or playing a marimba/kalimba-sounding box-shaped percussion instrument (probably African in origin as well) OR even all of the above together; and so much more...

Tim is redefining the research within and around his instrument(s) and blurring the lines between percussions, performance art, modern art and theater. This was one of the most engaging, entertaining and inspired shows I have seen at the Stone lately.
A must see for everyone into avantgarde art, experimental theater and music, world music and cool new stuff! If you are a drummer DEFINITELY go see him as soon as you can, just don't ever let him borrow your drums if you happen to share a stage with him ;-)

Chants Of Maldoror: 13 January 2007

 Posted by Ferruccio Milanesi  Italy  Edit (3345)
Jan 16 2007
Live Act(s): Chants Of Maldoror
Event Date: 13 January 2007
Type of Event: Small Club Concert
Venue: Sudterranea
Promoter/Organizer: Obscure Night
Rated: *****

BUY from  HERE
cover
This is the second time the band from Rome comes to Sudterranea Club, in Naples. I remember last time, in December 2005, their concert was a great experience, while I didn’t appreciate so much the following exhibition at ObcureFest in May, when they seemed too pretentious to me.
Now I confirm my impression: they give their best in small venues or crowded places, with smoke and people sweating, where they can involve the audience in their ritual, and not in theatres with people nailed to a seat. I’ve never seen them in Leipzig (or in Utrecht where they supported BAUHAUS) but I think it was the same: give them reactive people and they’ll donate a memorable night, separate them from their public and they’ll play alone for themselves.
This time the first thing I notice is a general sleazy attitude, more glamourous and involving, starting with an intro where the common industrial or gothic atmospheres are substituted by a song directly from the Sixties (f I’m right one from Dirty Dancing movie but Im not so sure). But don’t think they’ve lost their obscure attitude, their theatrical pose or their decadent imagery: as the concert clearly shows, the intense emotions they transmit are the same as in the past, and the song are maybe even better than before.
Cruel with us, Wounded Canvas, Justine are one of my preferred, and since the first notes they open a break in my body, like a hand crushing my heart. We stand alone, the Ultravox cover included in their last album Every Mask Tell The Truth, is an invite to dance and jump. They’ve played also new songs, that show a conscious maturity: more electronic arrangements but not the simple techno beats and ts404 too many bands use to refresh their sound. They’ve reached a point where the influence of milestones bands of dark/deathrock is reduced and now the CHANTS OF MALDOROR speak their own language.
The only sad thing I could say about the concert is the limited audience (usually the room is crowded, today don’t know why we’re only 30) and the presence of a well-known local hothead trying to disturb the exhibition.
I strongly recommend this band to every dark/gothic/deathrock/batcave fan (people decide everyday to use a different definition, preferring to catalogue than to live the emotions). Listen to their album, maybe buying them and not only downloading, and see them live, for they were already a great band and they are continuously growing.

Echoes Of Silence: 6 January 2007

 Posted by Ferruccio Milanesi  Italy  Edit (3344)
Jan 16 2007
Live Act(s): Echoes Of Silence
Event Date: 6 January 2007
Type of Event: Small Club Concert
Venue: Sudterranea
Promoter/Organizer: Obscure Night
Rated: *****

BUY from  HERE   or   BUY from  HERE
cover
Echoes of Silence is an Italian New-Wave/Dark band (strong are the similarities with Joy Division) and they’re well known and appreciated here in Italy. It’s the third time they come to Naples, but I missed the previous ones. Now finally I can see them at Sudterranea Club, a small venue where every Saturday the dark-gothic scene gathers, and it’s with a great interest that I expect their performance. When they start with the first song, only few people are in the concert room, but soon the place is crowded, and people will stay until the end of their exhibition, listening, moving and dancing.
In my opinion, based on this concert, they’re surely overestimated. Songs are nice, but nothing particular or moving, I remember not a song or riff that entered my brain or a particular moment when I’ve thought "this is an interesting passage". What I remember is a harsh guitar sound playing isolated notes that didn’t fuse in riffs but, due to the lack of an even little reverb, remain isolated one from the other. I remember, too, a bass that each time uses distortion covers everything else, like a bulldozer covers with sand voice, guitar and drums, and many, too many times disagrees with guitar about the time of the song, playing in synchrony once every ten measures. Drums... sincerely I didn’t hear drums, drummer was there but none heard it: seems to me that played without the energy that post-punk band needs. The concert ends with a cover of Joy Division’s Shadowplay so muddled that even the band was laughing while playing...
I know, many could think that the quality in the exhibition is not the first thing to consider in a post-punk band, and you’ve to appreciate the attitude, the atmosphere, the energy the band gives. But I think that what was good in 1979 (like some Joy Division exhibitions, great for the emotions they give but musically speaking not so good) today isn’t appreciable anymore. You can be aggressive, sick, moving, desperate, even with a little (very little, I’m not asking for Malmsteen-clones) care for the way you play. Or you have to be so intense and involving and aggressive that anyone in the room will dance and shake, trapped in a whirlwind of emotions, like happened with the band FRANKENSTEIN, where none was still and we were too busy jumping to notice if they made mistakes on instruments.
I don’t want to believe this has been a standard ECHOES OF SILENCE concert, I firmly want to believe that this night has been a bad night, that they’ve heard nothing on stage and so was impossible to play well (a common problem in small venue concerts) and transmit their emotions to the audience.
I know they’ll play on 7th Feb 2007 in Rome, supporting CINEMA STRANGE, and I’m sure that they’ll do their best to show their qualities and receive the attention they deserve.
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