#17, NOVEMBER 2004



by Hicham Chadly

Hicham Chadly is from Cairo, Egypt, but he lives in Paris, France, and here's his first ever "show report about shit happening in Paris"!

SONIC PROTEST – Les Instants Chavirés – Paris
March 5th : Pelt / Jérôme Noetinger / Noxagt
March 6th : Mainstream Ensemble / Blood Stereo / DDAA

I spent the few days preceding this ‘mini-festival’ (organized by two of France's finest: Textile Records and Bimbo Tower Records) wondering who came up with its title. Sonic Protest? Protest against what? By the time I arrived to the venue on the outskirts of Paris, I was ready to be handed some sort of ‘manifesto’, especially in these days of steamy controversial debates about the ‘Islamisation’ of France, War(s) on terrorism, bla bla bla. There was no such thing and the first set started on time (a rare thing in Parisian underground ‘spectacles’). People in the audience were still chatting when Pelt took off with their brand of hypnotic post-folk ethno-improv drone utilizing Tibetan bowls, tablas, electric guitars, etc… This being the first time I witnessed this trio live, I had my hopes set quite high, especially after enjoying their last few releases. The set was very pleasant even though it lacked the thickness or depth (psychedelically speaking) I was hoping for. In fact, there’s no way one could watch these guys without thinking of the Sun City Girls and what they would’ve delivered with this set up of instruments (and in an Algerian neighborhood of Paris).

Jérôme Noetinger, the man behind the label/distributor Metamkine and apparently the French noise artist with the highest number of releases (I thought it was Costes…) came up next and delivered a dizzying improvised electro-acoustique set. Slabs of head-spinning noise sounding like the Eiffel Tower collapsing ended the performance with an emerging, triumphant, Metal Urbain sample. I was mesmerized and sick so I found my way to the toilet.

Tight, tight, tight and HEAVY is one way to describe Noxagt’s sonic attack. I was actually excited to finally see them live but feared that they’d lose my attention after two or three numbers. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the sound as the bass seemed somehow 'buried' but they still rocked and delivered a truly crisp set that made some (drunken) giant, in the audience, scream “BLACK METAL”. Oh oui!

JÉRÔME NOETINGER: "Slabs of head-spinning noise sounding like the Eiffel Tower collapsing ended the performance with an emerging, triumphant, Metal Urbain sample."

Day two was inaugurated by the Mainstream Ensemble. A Parisian combo of six ‘nice guys’ that made me think of how happy my mother would be to see me attend a concert by such neat performers. Their ‘sound’ can only be described as post-rock/drone/ambient (or whatever) that brings to mind TNT-era Tortoise. However, I don’t see the point of involving two guitars for the parts played nor the two laptops (maybe they were playing a network game on stage or something…. Which would’ve been fantastic!). Anyway, their set (despite being very boring) sounded fine (and they looked like nice guys).

Blood Stereo featuring Professor Dylan Nyoukis, Karen Lollypop and Milche Grand invaded the stage and spat a half-hour of pure sonic bliss. They offered an onslaught of ‘hydrostatic’ sounds that made both my constipation and blood circulation problems avoid the need for any form of homeopathy. The French noise intellectuals present seemed staggered and I caught a couple making reference to Charlemagne Palestine (?) who played this same venue a few weeks before. I would agree that the common element would be the teddy bears. At least conceptually... Interesting, as Mr. Nyoukis’ label, Chocolate Monk, recently subject to a “Free Nerve Reconstructive Reanimation”, has gone on a releasing spree with some stunning records these past few months.

Déficit des Années Antérieures – DDAA dropped the curtain on the festival with a half hour of highbrow improv that got me yawning and thinking of my bed at home. In fact, these guys are respected veterans of the French free music scene since the late 1970’s and have apparently reached a true cult status with the intellectuals referred to earlier. The set up was actually interesting and provided some true moments of sound innovation via a vast array of instruments including guitar, bass, synthesizer, mandolin, percussions and texts but I still wasn’t totally happy so I missed the end in order to jump on the last metro and reach my bed.

DDAA: I couldn't find a picture of Blood Stereo . . .


















by Daniel DiMaggio

Nick Forte/Double Leopards/MFM – Lit Lounge in Manhattan, Monday, June 7th, 2004
Lit is a venue that has a pretty distinct after-work-bar-and-
grill vibe to the immediate stage area, and then in the back has stone walls and cushioned sitting niches that make it seem like a dungeon or opium den. The after-work thing was kind of countered by there being like at most 10 people at this show. Among these was the lady who, I think, reviewed the No Fun Fest for the Wire (I had heard her discussing it at NFF), a woman of maybe Middle Eastern descent. I could look up her name, but, y’know, I’m not going to.
       Nick Forte went on first, and he played guitar through lots of effects pedals. Considering that this setup is maybe the tiredest shit ever, his set was surprisingly not that bad, though it got old pretty quick, like 90% of solo electronics/noise performances. For, say, 20 minutes the mélange of electronics was for the most part dynamic and pleasing but after the first lull, or quiet section, I think that Forte should have eased the set to a close. Like, seriously, come on, if I was in the position of doing a solo improvised performance, I would use the first opportunity I had to get the fuck out of there! -- ‘there’ being the abstract space of the piece of music, not necessarily the venue -- and not outstay my welcome. Also, he made loops out of the stuff he was playing and then a little later brought in beats, which is really just never cool. Talk about metaphorically shooting oneself in the foot. Nick Forte used to be in Rorsarch, a well known now defunct NJ hardcore band. I played them on the radio once, it was pretty good.
       For some reason, the Double Leopards, clearly the stars of the show, went on next, just second in the lineup. Actually I know why this is, and I’ll tell you in a little bit. So anyway, my experiences with the Double Leopards have varied, fluctuating in a series of paired incidents. For example, I first heard them on the radio and was not impressed, and then I heard their track on a free CD from Sound Collector Magazine and was not impressed, and then they played live on WPRB and I was impressed, and then I got their A Pebble In Thousands Of Unmapped Revolutions album and was impressed, and then I listened to said album again and was not impressed, and then I saw them at No Fun Fest and was not that impressed, and then I bought their Halve Maen alb and was impressed. I’m not gonna lie, there’re times when listening to the Double Leopards has made me wonder whether I should consider taking the Tangerine Dream Alpha Centauri/Zeit double LP set off of my to-sell list (which at this point only consists of that album and George Lewis’s Homage To Charles Parker… faggot-ass George Lewis…). But, as you can see, things tonight were all set up for me to be impressed.
       I was, for the most part. Now I’ll try not to make any rash statements, but I’ll just say that the rumored DL/Wolf Eyes collabo (what’s the deal with this? did I just imagine hearing about it?) would make the most sense in the context of this performance. Sort of in a contrasting fashion to the almost austere bell-like tones of the aforementioned Halve Maen, much of these pieces had a more active and layered industrial churning dynamic. One of the guys (Chris?) was playing (with) a reel to reel tape machine sort of like the one that Aaron Dilloway played in his No Fun Fest solo set, and then he also did fast sawing moves on a lap guitar to create a static but gradually rising blur. One of the other ones starting looping some shit like halfway through the first piece, but then quickly got wise and cut it out, and then there were the mouth mics and thick reverb inherent to a lot of this band’s music. Really though, “drone”, as such, made up only a wavy cross-section of the night’s Leopards proceedings. Also, there was a fifth guy who I didn’t know who he was in addition to the four normal members, which was weird, and a guy in the audience sitting at a table and like rocking out and throwing slow motion devil horns and shit in semi rhythm with the music. What do you think this is, No Fun Fest? (Mention number 4. Yeah I was there).
       I don’t even remember what the 3rd band was called, I’m gonna have to look it up on the show announcement email…. They were called MFM, and featured members of the SB. See, I think this is why they were headlining, as Russ Waterhouse, who booked this show, is also in the SB. I think that’s called, like, favoritism. There’s another word that I can’t think of. So MFM is obviously a band that two guys from the SB started with a guy that nobody likes. The latter was their bass player, and I say this because he was sort of old and had a moustache and was wearing a Frank Zappa shirt (‘Baby Snakes’ is a Zappa thing, right?).        Seriously, I think Zappa is like the least fashionable musical artist right now. No respectable band would claim him as an influence. I mean, I remember the early Mothers Of Invention records being pretty great from 8th grade, but I’m not going to go around telling people about it. Speaking of 8th grade, this band sounded pretty much like what I wanted every band to sound like in 8th grade, that is very noodley free jazz/psych power trio jams, sort of like the Tony William’s Lifetime without the awesome organ or tight playing. But I’m serious when I say that the guitarist demonstrated some of the most effortlessly tossed off free guitar noodles that I have ever seen. My friend Colin from guitar camp once told me how Allan Holdsworth played incredibly fast solos with just hammer-ons and pull-offs or something, and I never really could conceived of it until now. That might be sort of misleading as son from MFM used a pick too, but I would just look at his hand moving lightly over the neck in various positions and hear a near comical tangle of fast guitar notes coming out from the speakers and colliding with sloppy free jazz drumming. Needless to say, I was quite pleased, but it got kind of old, as did sitting there with a very small number of people watching them as the Lit basement gradually filled up with jokers for something called “Make Out Monday”.