Blog archive February 2014

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27.02.14 / 01 / the stripper, the screamer and the fluorescent batten

painjerk is wearing a t-shirt that reads 'anal aunt morbid florist' except that the a in the second word is a c. the music he is making sounds like satanic clangers torturing the soup dragon to death. after he finishes, a slim woman in sunglasses comes on and demonstrates the screams of the tortured soup dragon, without ceasing, for 15 minutes.

multiple tap was a two-evening event presenting japanese noise and experimental music. by a novel mechanism the event would only go ahead if enough 'early bird' tickets were sold - the ticket would then be a 'reward' for co-funding the event. it sold out.

17 performers worked in various combinations over the two nights [the second night's combinations worked notably better than the first]. most of the music was intense freeform improvised noise from hacked electronic devices and processed guitars. watch out for your ears when listening to the following clips.

atsuhiro ito played a modified fluorescent lighting batten. you want one. i want one. he is waving the right-hand end of the light over a proximity-sensing sonic device working like a theremin. the sharp eyed among you may notice a woman removing her clothes in the first clip - more of her shortly.

and this is what an all-female group can be. mouri, on the left, is playing modified electronic devices. the intense spotlight has left ms wakabayashi rather, um, over-exposed. obviously we had a more detailed view in real life.

on a much quieter note, takahiro kawaguchi and makoto oshiro improvised ambient sound installations out of various ticking and vibrating mechanisms, plus metal objects thrown onto upturned speakers to bounce and clatter, plus assemblages of found objects and furniture.

Kawaguchi and oshiro

also quiet, ko ishikawa played the sho, a small mouth organ of bamboo pipes, soft harmonics like a church organ breathing in and out. also traditional, yumiko tanaka looked like your mother in a kimono, sat down demurely with traditional japanese instruments and proceeded to do improvised violence to them, while reciting spoken/sung lyrics for which i would love to have the translation. her performances were powerfully expressive and musical - it takes great musicianship to deliberately play instruments 'wrongly' and yet so well. it was worth the price of admission just to see her.

for the second evening the audience demographic was somewhat different. at least a quarter were what i can best describe as fat bearded middle-aged musos. all became clear when jojo hiroshige took the stage with makoto kawabata for a session of guitar-scrubbing freakout. the musos worshipped. it was the japanoise equivalent of hendrix and clapton jamming.

Kawabata and hiroshige

after that the climax, a performance by original japanese noise band hijokaidan. bear in mind that the clip below is excerpts from a continuous 20 minute performance. after the initial response of horror or laughter, the only option is to immerse yourself in the torrent of sound.


fantastic. did you catch ken ikeda??? i thought he was playing, i really love his work, very minimalist.

tim westcott

he played a couple of times with other people, but was very much in the background - a bit too minimalist for the context. it was hard to make out his contributions under the noise.


15.02.14 / 01 / bruges

this year the beer festival was in the modern beurshalle instead of the market halls under the belfort. apparently it had outgrown the old location - it was still pretty crowded in the new one. saturday was like a difficult day on the tube. on sunday there were less foreigners and more locals. we spent four hours or so there each afternoon. it works like this: your entry fee buys you a festival glass and some beer tokens, each of which is exchanged for 15cl [about half a glass] of beer. you can buy more tokens. you also get a catalogue.

this year there were 367 beers available, so there are plenty of descriptions to pore over while sipping your current choice. it's hard to scratch more than the surface, so we tried to cover the range of types, white to dark, fruity to bitter, and tasted one another's choices. it was also advisable to balance the strong beers with weaker ones. the most essential thing, of course, was to get our taste of westvleteren 12, its quality exceeded only by its scarcity. it was also necessary to try the 26% double black, the strongest beer by a factor of two. they only gave half-portions of that. after that we could experiment, based on half-understood catalogue descriptions in dutch, or in everett's case whether the logo was cool. obviously it was forbidden to try anything we could get anywhere else. i wish i'd bought bottles of one or two things at the festival now.

there were nine of us, eight in a very nice house right in the middle of bruges and one billeted elsewhere. this made things easy - five minutes walk from Onze Lieve Vrouwekirk and the museums, ten minutes from Markt or the beer festival. the weather was cold, but sunny at least half the time - perfect for exploring. we bought museum passes and visited most of the major attractions in the centre of town, aided by not having to leave until mid monday afternoon.

of course bruges is beautiful, both in extravagant set-pieces and the winding cobbled streets. i am intrigued by the madonna and child statues everywhere, in niches on houses or on street corners. add in other religious street furniture - the scallop shell, the blessed sacrament image etc - and it begins to look like an old catholic version of my musings around shoreditch urban golf [or vice versa]. i wonder what story or pilgrimage ties these items together, or could do? marian devotions, certainly. are they linked into the procession of the relic of the holy blood? urban fabric as story field.

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