Monday, October 1, 2012

Glenn Branca Ensemble - Isabelle Duthoit & Franz Hautlinger & Zsolt Sores - Alec Redfearn & the Eyesores - Stylus!Black!Factory! -- Atlas Performing Arts Center - Sep 30 2012

Stylus!Black!Factory! - This 27 minute set featured an electric cello, an electric guitar and 8 people at tables with at least seven turntables. The front duo cooked up some nice loops and sonic passages, but the stylus part seemed lacking. After standing around a bit, the DJs popped the turntable arms up and down on the records occasionally flipping them over. One guy picked up the record and returned it to its same side for some reason. The front duo continued to make some nice noise that had enough of a theme and style to it to hold interest. Reasonably good starter here, but the stage could have been a lot less crowded.

Alec Redfearn & the Eyesores - Alec Redfearn comes from Providence, which is where I visited once to attend a Terrastock festival featuring innovative psychedelic bands from around the world. Based on this set, Redfearn and crew could easily be one of the best acts at this sort of festival. He mostly plays accordion with a french horn player, keyboardist, drummer, electronics guy, and a fellow on stand-up bass. They play well composed songs and create amazing sounds. The keyboards are played with pulsating precision while the electronics guy comes up with hard edge sounds that usually come from electric guitars. There is great timing and originality throughout. The male and female vocals are magical and ultimately I am trying to put together an audio picture of Faun Fables, Kate Bush, and Hush Arbors. Geeze, there are even some Vincent Crane organ moments. Great, great set by a band that hopefully will come back some time soon.

Isabelle Duthoit & Franz Hautlinger & Zsolt Sores - If you are deep in the experimental camp, then you may have liked this. I thought it pretentious and tiring. There was a woman with a unique voice that summoned quiet nearly inaudible sounds from deep and that part was interesting for a bit. A trumpeter and violinist joined in without actually playing much, although the trumpet sounded a bit interesting by the end. Mostly it was rubbing things on the floor, blowing on things and improvising something 'original' even though this sort of thing has been done to death. Yes, so have Ramones and Rolling Stones copycats, but I will always take more pleasure in that. I am afraid I need more of a foundation for the experimental music that moves me. Some people did enjoy this and art has gotten to be pretty much what you want it to be, so judge for yourself.

Glenn Branca Ensemble - Mr. Branca tells us he is 64 this coming Saturday and he certainly looks the part of the master conductor role he plays tonight leading a drummer, bassist, and four guitarists in a set of several of his compositions. It is all electric and loud, although we won't need our earplugs he tells us (it's probably borderline for some). There are no pedals, just strong clean sounds with a powerhouse drummer and players that work off of sheet music and focus on the tricky interplay with the timing of their strikes. It is all rhythmic, dense and ultimately quite interesting. You certainly see the genesis of Sonic Youth, Swans, and many other bands that have come since Branca arrived on the NYC scene long ago. They survive some broken strings which delay things at times, but the players are composed and banging it out nicely. The music has that same sort of combination of classical music and loud rock that I first heard with King Crimson performing Gustav Holst's "Mars". There was a nice composition he wrote for Steve Reich's 70th birthday even though "it doesn't sound like Steve Reich and he probably didn't like it". I have listened to Branca and known about him since the early 'no wave' days, so it was nice finally to share a brief moment with the music live. And I will conclude by agreeing with his quote below.

Quote of the Night: Glenn Branca coming on stage "Beautiful Night--absolutely beautiful."

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