Monday, January 28, 2008
Triple headed weekend
caught some interesting shows this weekend, which i will run down for you in speed-demonly manner...
Miracle Condition, whom i previewed for Time Out, sounded pretty suave at Union Pool this night. this unit includes two guys--guitarist Mark Shippy and drummer Pat Samson--who used to play together in the admirably fucked U.S. Maple. tonight's show was supposed to be a collaboration between MC, plus this "sound artist" (cough) Jeffrey R. Robinson and one David Yow. crazily, though, we were told before the gig that Yow was hospitalized with a collapsed lung. was pretty bummed about that, though the Miracles hit a nice stride in their first two songs--expansive, droney two-guitars-and-drums pieces, driven by Samson's absolutely sick/slick swinging pocket. the dude's playing was just hugely funky and molten. Shippy and the other guitarist had some nice atmospherics happening too--almost reminded me of a more abstract Battles at times. things got a little "eh" once some video projections started and Robinson joined in tho. didn't have the stamina for the whole set, but i'm really psyched i got to hear Samson.
speaking of Battles (as i did above), i was reminded o' them during Saturday's Cornelius show at Webster too. (i knew nothing of Cornelius going in; it might be helpful to think of him as something like a Japanese cross between Bjork and Moby) my bud Tony had heard that his new Sensuous Synchronized Show tour was something to see and so we checked it out. it was definitely Sensuous, with huge video projections, seizure-ish LEDs streaming across the stage and the music itself, which was like state-of-the-art Muzak or something. really sort of dancey, broadly enjoyable pieces ranging from an electronica sort of vibe to playful thrash metal, reggae and funk. the musicianship was pretty much astonishing. live, a four piece band was recreating all the stuff that 'Nelius had done via samplers and synths and stuff on the record and it was amazingly robotic--they were playing these art-funk sort of pieces that were way, way complex, like "Discipline"-era King Crimson or something like that. really funky too, though. the band was just insanely locked in. was pretty psyched on the pot fumes in Webster Hall and the general vibe of fun and enjoyment. it's good to be reminded every once in a while that not everyone goes to shows to be Challenged (as i often do for sure). fun stuff and the new record, "Sensuous," is definitely worth checking out.
hit up Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes opera on Friday at this beautiful church in Brooklyn Heights. a strange experience--it was "semi-staged," which meant that the actor/singers were sort of wedged in between the orchestra and the audience, with no stage to speak of. overall, the effect was sort of noncommital, i.e., i wish i had seen a fuller production. the opera was strange--it's basically about a British fishing village turning against this fisherman for his brutish ways. you sympathize with this dude being persecuted even though he's kind of a monster in a sense. anyway, i had read about this one in Alex Ross's "The Rest Is Noise" and had been very psyched to check it out, but in some ways i enjoyed reading about it more than hearing it. there were definitely some wrenching and beautiful moments, but i find it pretty hard to reckon with bel canto, honestly. sometimes i wish that opera didn't have to be sung like opera--like i have no problem with the narrative aspect, but it seems to me that you're sacrificing so much grit and emotion by restricting vocals to these incredibly pure and vibrato-laden deliveries. anyway, i saw past that at times and enjoyed the work's complexities--esp. these sort of virtuoso choral passages where the town's beration of Grimes took on an elaborate grandness--but overall, the whole thing felt a bit too long to me and again, i just had trouble FEELING the story. maybe me and opera have a future, but i'm not so sure...
lastly, the new Mick Barr album (Ocrilim - ANNWN) is fucking astonishing. his most majestic, heartwrenching work yet. i definitely FEEL more for this one than any other--very vibrant and emotional. preview it here. comes out early February on Hydra Head.