photos from the recent live set of larry gus (www.myspace.com/larrygus) during litlte orion’s 2nd birhtday!
photos from the ILIOS curated two-day event in athens (13 & 14/10), hidden like a trojan horse in the belly of the first athens biennial (nice exhibition by the way). thanks to ILIOS for not falling back in his comfy chair & re-shaping the boundaries once more.
full line-up included costes, antimatter & karkowski, scott aford, v/vm & family battle snake on the decks. sadly i didn’t have my camera with me on the first day, plus not all of my pics came out good.
pascal battus & christophe cardoen put on two blazing shows in thessaloniki & xanthi in the middle of june amidst total darkness and audio-visual overload. well, not exactly overload, as i wouldn’t necessarily describe their work in such an oppresive manner, but i can happily say that quite a few people walked out from the thessaloniki show with their notions on these performances positively challenged.
the armoury enlisted by christophe was selected lights, control devices & an on-the-spot construction to help diffuse the lights in the space, while pascal had with him a wide range of objects (from coffee mixer, to ebows, to shards of metal) that he used to excite two isolated guitar pick-ups. and while during the soundcheck i enjoyed seeing them work parallel with each other -subtle modifications in the lights from christophe, long stretches of aural explorations from pascal where he would stumble upon a rich source of musical sounds coming from his objects, staying with them until depletion- it was during the concert itself that they concentrated on bringing all the elements together. taking into full account the enviroment and the people gathered they worked less on their own contribution and more on responding with joint, fully improvised, actions. and at some point, after some initial long stretches of silences combined with darkness punctuated by measured sounds & flicker, they exploded into our eyes surpassing all expectations of what an improvising duo like this could achieve.
as for xanthi, nicolas informed me that they rocked. and as for my small set opening the show at thessaloniki, all i can say is i sucked; big time. but oh well, this is supposedly the stuff that only makes us stronger.
hats off to the wonderful people at horos theatre company who hosted the show in thessaloniki. the encounter with them was fruitful & of course the show couldn’t have been set up without their help.
religion 1 / valerio tricoli & tasos stamou live in thessaloniki 8/11/06, valerio tricoli live in xanthi & iasmos 10 & 11/11/06
it’s thursday evening 6:30 pm and i’m sitting at the airport terminal in herakleion, crete. a pretty crowded place during the holiday season, the airport now serves pretty much only domestic flights & i’m left drowsing after two days of minimal sleep and food in its empty hall. the first song to pop up in my player is yo la tengo’s “by the time it gets dark”, which fits perfectly the state of things. today we said our last goodbyes to my grandmother so it’s only natural i’m thinking about the actual importance of things and such. last month valerio tricoli played three shows in northern greece and that i felt going around with him was that we were definitely doing something important, despite the fact that not everyone shared our opinion.
starting in thessaloniki, valerio played a show in zenit together with our friend tasos stamou (up-and-coming musician, photographer and all-around great guy); the sets were: tasos solo, valerio solo, tasos & valerio duo. from the beginning we had quite a few minor misfortunes: late publicity, average turnout, indifference; some people seemed to be trying in vain to fit the idea of this music into their comfortable lifestyle instead of reveling in the beautiful world of possibilities. Still, there was persistence; valerio pushed forward filling the room with gorgeous feedback, electric disturbances and his own version of a light show. by the time 40 minutes had passed he was off-stage feeling he was done for the night only to meet demand for more by the faithful few. twenty minutes later he was off again only to return for the triumphant duo set. earlier, tasos’ solo set had been a slight let-down (mostly to himself) because he hadn’t been able to make a coherent statement out of the numerous moments of brilliance. in the duo set he shone through; guided by the steady hand of valerio, they provided the perfect closing. once again i have to stress the importance of creating the possibility for valerio to come and play in thessaloniki (thanks nicolas and michael), also the importance of giving the chance to someone like tasos to play a gig like this in his own hometown.
the next day valerio along with his gf manu were off to xanthi to make field recordings and have a good time. we found them one day later in the trusty hands of nicolas malevitsis swimming in a sea of greek delicacies. there were great sounds to be found in the streets of xanthi and in the basement of the xanthi folk museum, above which the 2nd show was held later in the evening. we spent half the day making preparations and the rest saving energy (oh, and we argued a lot about valerio’s heathen religion – catholicism). the performance was at the small conference room of the museum, in a good cozy atmosphere. more like an informal meeting maybe, quite a few people who were in the audience contribute in one way or another in organizing these events. here valerio, stationed in the center of the room and with all the lights out, deployed his trusty speaker feedback and added along with other things the sounds of the street market or those of rusty tools from older times. these sounds, which are usually left in the past, were not dissected or attacked in any way that would attempt to show their inside out and display something hidden inside; simply projected in the mass of sound i felt there was more dissecting to do on our part, for once i was happy not to have my food chewed for me.
oh, the joyous cacophony! valerio next had to face the challenge of performing at a children’s party -together with the children. he was initially looking forward to this but when the kids started showing up he was helpless. the plan was: give out toy instruments to the kids and have them play while giving rough directions, manipulate their input at the same time. with the toy sounds feedbacking helplessly and the kids giving it all they had, velerio had to give up the control part of his plan and the party turned into a dark free-jazz blowout; or so i was told because i had to leave early. anyway, it seems that the kids sustained a full-on noise attack for as much as 40 minutes, finally calming down only for the last few moments. apparently somewhere in the mix there were also adults to be found, either picking up where the kids had left off or adding their own stuff -as in the case of nicolas malevitsis using his tapes to add more spice to the proceedings. actual evidence from the event is rumored to be circulating and i’d be curious to take a peak.
before our italian friends left, we met them for one more drink in thessaloniki. throughout the days we spent together i kept bugging valerio with technical questions about a basic recording set-up i wanted to make, but i also got as much insight by simply watching him work. and by watching him i knew it does matter; despite being open to criticism (sometimes lighthearted, superficial or self-serving), music (the action) still raises the hair on my back, what more could i ask for? now, had i had valerio with me by my grandma’s deathbed he would have of course felt very uncomfortable. i’m sure though that a part of him would have been fascinated by the deeply pagan rites of honoring the departed (being sicilian he might have known, they’re pretty hardcore too). still, there’s no other way of projecting some things. as in birth, as in the stuff above our heads. [kostis kilymis]
The concept of that live performance was “free improvisations for voice and magnetic tape”, so Savina provided her larynx as a source of raw material and Costis his equipment (the REVOX A-77 tape machine,a sound console and a harmonizer). That big wooden retro tape machine created an absurd sense of freshness and innovation, a disintoxication from the countless laptop experimentalists who carry themselves around producing the same boring and tiring digital output. Another interesting point about the tape machine is that you could see in real time the direct relation between Costis’ physical, hand activity and the sound result-almost like a DJ playing with his vinyl records. The hall of the Museum was suffocatingly loaded with people hungry for that kind of live events and happily the two artists gave them enough food…
From the first minutes of the session, the whole thing didn’t remind me at all the classic ping-pong improvisation I was expecting, as Costis was completely focused on Savina’s voice which was the prevailing element of the session. It was not the usual interactive improvisation, on the contrary I think it was a kind of instantaneous composition. As the session progressed, Savina demonstrated her endless store of vocal distortions and her instictive ability to pull something new from her throat, while at the same time Costis was treating that sound material using classic musique concrete techniques such as speed variations, superimpositions and sound textures overlapped, overlaid and intersecting. His resonant and reverberative effects created a warm and reverent atmosphere similar to performances in cathedrals. Savina gave me the impression that she is trying to unify her past and present repertoire and influences, blending her early conservatory training, her interpretations of melodious greek composers (Hadjidakis, Platonos, etc.), her love for legendary singers (Demetrio Stratos, Diamanta Galas,etc.), her rare improvisational attempts and her last ten year-obsession with traditional world music.
That stylistic openness combined with the skilled control of pace and pattern and the technical refinement of Costis created an expressive, dynamic sound result extending from vocal abstractions, guttural distortions, tuvan throat singing, african-asian colours, dadaistic automatic, spontaneous newspaper reading, sound poetry, glossolalia deliriums, surreal tape collage, layers of hum and roar, tape scratches, fragments of sounds from the audience, choir effects, greek traditional lullabies, Hadjidakis’ mellodies, mellow ambient to minimal, repetitive ethnic trance and massive ritual sound.All these in an amazing and outstanding 60 minute-package. Savina was like a medium transmitting the voices of other – world entities, while Costis was making his alchemical transformations creating gold sounds…
One of the year’s highlights! I am waiting for their next live session and why not, an album release. [Dimitris Sofianos]
‘below is a hacked text of mecha/orga’s private dreamdiary regarding his memories of the 2 days sets that took place in xanthi’s folk museum dealing with the activities of the CCMR…’
It was the second time I had the chance to visit my beloved Xanthi. It was absurd Nikolas’ original idea for a concert and presentation of the Centre Of Contemporary Music Research (founded by Iannis Xenakis officially in 1986) at the city’s Folk Museum and after the nessesary arrangements between Costas Matzoros (of CCMR), Paschalis Xanthopoulos (of Xanthi’s Folk Museum) and Michalis Elafros (of Pakethra), the whole thing took place on September 2, 2006…
We listened to a lot of “tape” music by various Greek electroacoustic composers. Although some pieces were interesting my CCMR fellows felt that just to press play on a CD player to listen to a track is not really that exiting -not for us nor the audience- even when someone’s able to difuse the sound in real time…Of course I had a good time performing with my laptop, either solo or jamming with Costas Matzoros (who was playing with a VCS3 synthesizer!) and Akis Daoutis who was doing some live electronics…
I have to mention that the night of the conert was just one day before the official opening of Xanthi’s Old Town festival. This means that our electronic music was mixed together with traditional greek clarinets and bouzouki which were heard from all over as the people of Xanthi were “warming up” for the next day’s beginning of the celebrations. Not to mention the smell which was surrounding us because the Festival includes the set up of outdoor grills that were preparing souvlaki, sausages etc…I insisted that we forget all about the concert and go have some fun in the town but my suggestion was rejected…
The day after the concert Pachalis was kind enough to take us to see the archeological site of Abdira (located a few kilometers out of Xanthi), a very fascinating and beautiful area. Well, it’s not hard to imagine, the idea is to organise a concert there, in open space, hopefully next summer. It’s kind of difficult to prepare it but I think everyone is willing to give it a try…
Of course our little trip included food, drinks and discusions, all these in good quality and quantity. It’s nice to hang around with the other members of CCMR. I was pleased to hear from someone that she doesnt consider me a musician but a noise maker -or something-…Finally, someone is telling me a flattering comment!
yes, i realise the above bands are basically two people, frans de waard and roel meelkop. and they complained that nicolas worked them like dogs. well, sort of, they just said it was the first time they did a tour where they played every night. don’t start thinking there were sore feelings or anything, i’m sure they had a great time. anyone who has done the xanthi mini-tour (slowly turning into a fixture in the absurd canon) has had nothing short of a blast.
the shows too were all over the place; clubs, werehouses, museums and a front lawn. unsuspecting residents of xanthi, together with weekend visitors, were treated to the special flavors of frans & roel’s musics. the thessaloniki show was a little underattended but it had a great atmosphere. many non-believers were converted and there was also that special moment early in the evening when i saw cities in desolation, (gr/ch) who accompanied in two of the shows, singlehandedly burn the in-house mixer. they then kindly offered their own mixer for the rest of the night, which went on as planned, ending just in time to catch the plane back home.
end of chapter 4(?) of the xanthi adventures