Friday, April 16, 2010

Back to Blog!!!!

I'm taking this blog back up :) for the 1 or 2 worldwide readers who might be interested.
I stepped back from writing about music for a couple of years but knew it was only momentary. Many things have changed in my life since my last post here, but the most relevant thing is my geographical location, moving back from Paris to my hometown of Beirut, so my focus will be even more about the music scene hereabout. I also have a much better photo camera that I have learned to use decently so the visuals for my posts will be much nicer I hope.
I might also write about other things that I find interesting around here in the artistic and social fields of this wonderfully rich country. I'll keep a slight focus on reviewing live events but might diversify my posts a bit, maybe also posting my own work, who knows...


Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Please note the new address of our Lebanese improvisation fetsival: The old url was literally stolen from us by a scrupulous promoter who is using it to hijack clicks without even knowing what the word "Irtijal" means. It is of great importance that you modify any links you might have to the old url, even encourage others to do so if possible because these links are exactly what this guy was interested in. Needless to say you should not visit the old url because it is a fake site and every click he gets will valorize his theft.
Thank you for any help you might bring to us in this neverending fight, but one day hopefully the leach will let go of our name and that would mean a lot to us

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Lantence Manifeste : Informo

"Informo: disformous, informal and information is a space for reflection, meetings and experimentation that organises itself around a central theme through an invitation made to artists and thinkers from various fields of thought to put their work into direct view of each other".
On this afternoon of november 19th for 4 straight hours we could witness the fourth edition of Informo, a performance designed as a "live review". The basic frame is a space filled by white banners hanging all the way down from the seiling in a dark room (here in Instants Chavirés) through which the audience can wander and close in on the various artists spread around the venue. On this day they where Li-Ping Ting, standing way up some stairs with a pocket-light to illuminate her face inside a bird cage, she dances with various feathers, papers and sticks coming out of her mouth (and incidently from the cage's small door), a powerful play on shadows, meanings, unspoken, both dark and revealing. Thierry Madiot with his 10 meter long conic tube producing low frequency beatings, gurglings and shrieks on the full length of the side wall. Massimo Carrozzo with his subtle clarinet flutters. Martine Altenburger coverring the full spectral range of a discreet cello with occasional pizzicato attacks, glissendis and drones. Christophe Cardoen's mastery of light manipulation using the various angles provided by the hanging banners. Stéphane Lempereur would move around his photographical creations that look like miniatures in regard to the size of the banners, breaking the monotony of the banner's grey effect. Olivier Féraud's rotating installations producing both sound and light providing a constant audiovisual bottom line to the performance. Finally Yannick Dauby's diffusions of field recordings in two different places both around him and on the opposite side of the room, where we could here undistinguishable whispering and muttering sounds that we first confuse with the actual whisperings of the audience. Other sounds include the constant movement of the audience, coins when latecomers have to pay their entrance fees, occasional objects that drop, people's closes brushing the banners.
We are urged to move around, giving the performance a whole new equilibrium depending on where we are standing. For a very long period of time we are immersed in this alternate opening of time and space, creating a distortion of reality through which the few predetermined events of the review take place: a screening of videos by Chinese artist Song Dong "Picking the Moon in the Water" that adds further layers to our current distortion when a hand tries to pick up a flickering circle in the water in which we can see images of another "distortion of reality", that of adds extroted from Chinese TV. Other events include a very delicate performance By Carrozzo of a solo clarinet piece where a steady minimal "beat" leads to the emergence of breath waves that mutate into tones and back. Finally the the whole performance ends with a collective interpretation of John Cage's "Musical Sculptures".
A fascinating afternoon, a total breach of our conventional habits by some of the most "questioning" artists on the French scene.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Lebanese improvisers hit Switzerland

Follow this link to check out our Al Maslakh Festival in the Reitschule in Bern and concerts in other cities and in Germany:

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Lieux Communs : Schnack + Michel Waiswisz

A single concert in two sets for my thrid day in a row at Instants Chavirés
Schnack is a duo of Paul Hubweber on trombone and Uli Böttcher on laptop. Böttcher picks up the trombone's signal that he processes in realtime, so we get an alternation of acoustic trombone with amplified distorted digitalised trombone. On this date they had Michel Waiswisz with his singular MIDI controlled gloves as a guest.
They played numerous short or medium short pieces with sometimes Schnack operating as a duo, some small solo sections, several electronic duos between Waiswisz & Böttcher.
There where mainly 2 ways into the music: either Hubweber starts with his trombone and the electronics soon join in, drowning him at points but always allowing him to emerge again. Either the electronics start together and Hubweber sooner or later takes a dive into the music with his powerful sound, sometimes free jazzy, sometimes more into texture and extended techniques (if we agree that mutes are a kind of extended technique for the trombone). One of his mutes is a thick plastic glass that vibrates on the bridge producing a very fast beating that turns into a huge white noise when picked-up by the laptop.
The music in general is a maelstrom of digital and midi sounds, pierced by trombone erruptions, moving very fast, shifting from layers to broken rythms, digital explosions and tones, feedbacks, oscilating soundwaves, engine type sounds and doepler effects. Very agitated and on the very limit of chaos. Only at very brief moments did the music soften or lay down into more ambient or horizental soundscapes, the longest one being the very end of the concert with Waiswisz creating a hypnotising multiphonical slow pace drone that the other two could build or modulate on.
Some of the pieces where astounding, highly original and full of surprises, an overall very playful atmosphere between the musicians made the concert a big pleasure to watch. Naturally some pieces did not work this well and some inbalance between the volumes of the electronics through the 4 speakers where the weaker points of the performance. In the beginning of each set I am a bit sceptic but it keeps getting better in totally unexpected ways, sometimes the music would almost U-turn on itself. Big pleasure as well to see such lively electronics, Waiswisz using his whole body movement and Böttcher going from laptop to a joystick controller. Equally the cyber version of Hubweber gives us an obvious sound/movement equivalence.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Lieux Communs : John Butcher solo

The second solo is by John Butcher. The concert is divided in two parts: tenor then soprano.
I have to say my favorite part was by far the first section where Butcher starts with a powerful agitated improvisation on atonal scales often exploding the notes with multiphonics or giving them a granulated texture. Shades of jazz, deconstructed, dislocated, shaky, with a powerful sound enabled by his masterful blowing that draws for his stomach up to his throat and mouth. The movement culminates into a long circular breathing topped with his unique multiphonics that was personally one of my first crazes in improvised music years ago. Brilliant.
At this point, and for the first time in my experience Butcher uses amplification on his sax, playing on close-micking effects. The result was severely anecdotal, often the process would turn into accidental feedback and the volume was never ideal, later on Butcher admitted that he has not yet found a way to master this method in a live setting.
He then switches to soprano with the same amplification, more effective, but again I don't see the interest in it appart from a few sections with high pitches reaching an almost aquatic quality with a significant enhancement of the sound. The concert ends with a "ballad" type soprano improvisation, kind of a distant homage to Steve Lacy, bits of Evan Parker, and again the destructured scales on which Butcher is totally at ease. The softness of the "ballad" then wares off to some more intense playing, but I hardly find my way back into the music.
At least one thing I have to recognise is that every one of his solo performances that I have seen is completely different, which requires a certain amount of risk taking that sometimes pays off, sometimes not.

Lieux Communs : Quentin Dubost solo

Second night at Instants Chavirés features 2 solos of very different nature, the first of which is a solo by parisian guitarist Quentin Dubost.
A lesson of what you can do with one electric guitar string (the low E string), a bow, and a few clips that serve as mutes. Almost the whole solo was played in this very restricted region of the instrument. Simple very precise gestures, variations through different string tensions and open/muted positions, modulations of frequencies and textures, occasional white and harsh noise interventions and cracklings inside an overall multiphonic wave created by the bowing that takes place near the guitar's neck. In the very begining Dubost uses a fan, not touching the string but who's rotation is picked up by the lower microphone producing a very subtle flapping that works as a supportive layer for the rest of the music.
The result oscillates between sheer beauty and noise, allowing all amateurs of untypical electric guitar to merge into the sound introspectively.
Halfway through the sound becomes more sparse and less drony and at some point it seems the amplifier looses it's power (this was confirmed to me by Quentin later on, some kind of connection failure within the amp.), a blurry section ensues and the concert seems to head towards a dead-end. But this is when Dubost plays one of his most beautiful sounds: a very low volume but high velocity beating on the guitar's mike, very discreet but quite unique.