Monday, 23 May 2011

Les Ateliers Claus - Sunday Afternoon.

I was inspired to write a quick blog post today after attending the Sunday afternoon session at the Atelier Claus - here in Brussels. A friend of mine had been saying, quite rightly, how little we try to get things to happen in Brussels. It is almost a sign of how the scene here in Belgium is not really pushing at the boundaries. There are few, if any, small 'loft' type gigs where the musicians in general are paid practically nothing. However they do make music, and maybe it's true to say that a well developed loft scene reflects on the health of a city's music and art scene in general? When one thinks of Steve Lacy's famed loft gigs back in the 70s it showed how music such as his was really not allowed in many clubs, or one could say they didn't really program that type of music. The same is apparent nowadays also with many places sticking to more commercial programs which unfortunately gradually numbs the general population into believing that 'that' is all there is to see.

Steve Lacy at Zabo's '83
Photo and copyright Jack Handy

In Brussels there are one or two places that still try and promote something new - by that one should understand 'new' as "we're trying something out". The Ateliers Claus (not really a loft as such) does try to help and develop the more underground music scene, as does (did) the Magasin 4, although it's now become a more 'metal and rock' type venue. 

A special mention should go to Fred Donche and Frederik Leroux who are also trying to get some new sounds and ideas across to the public. They've started holding sessions known as Karel Ball, sessions   based around experimentation and development of sound manipulation. The music is always interesting and if you pass via their site you can see a few videos of the work in progress. They hope to also develop their handmade recordings which is becoming an important way to get more underground music out to be heard, almost like coded documents which were passed around in periods of repression.

In the meanwhile this was meant to be a post about the Sunday session at Les Ataliers Claus so here goes (in short). It was great to get a chance to see some interesting music on Sunday with these three acts as seen below. The first two were fun to hear although if you need a chord change from time to time, then this is not your thing. I did wonder in the Mountains set what would most harmony teachers make of all of this? After all what they did (and well) was basically build up one chord through loops and live guitars. At times one wondered how a tune with no tonic, yet only one tonality could possibly end! Oubys on the other hand was more up my street with (as described below) a more Tangerine Dream or Kluster sound akin to that of Hans-Joachim Roedelius. The waves of sound washed over the public who sat quietly enjoying the sensation (me too). And finally the most interesting part was Nate Wooley who performed with his trumpet and amplifier (and that's how it's billed). If you think you know what a trumpet sounds like then this was for you. Nate blew not only into his trumpet but AT his trumpet, the amplifier picking up the sounds and then magnifying them. The result being anything but what one expects from this brass instrument. I use the word magnify as when one places something so close under a magnifying glass you are often astounded at the details that make up such an object. This was the effect given by the use of the amplifier. If you're interested there's an excellent LP (no CDs) of this music which can be found here from Smeraldina-Rima. There will be a review of the record posted soon of this excellent release either here or on Free Jazz Blog .... or both!

I should add that the texts under the pictures are from the press release and are NOT my property. However I found that they sum up each artist well and I imagine it's as they wish to be seen.

OUBYS is a one man ambient project from Hasselt, Belgium. The force behind Oubys is Wannes Kolf, whose music is made with live improvisations, electronic treatment and field recordings. Influenced by early kraut legends Faust, Can and ambient guru Brian Eno, this music has a nice sense of subterrenean depth and a pulsating progression. He just released the stellar ‘Terra Incognita’ LP on the newly founded Testtoon Records.

MOUNTAINS is Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp, founders of the Apestaartje label in 1999. A love of sculpting sound in front of an audience is at the heart of Mountains. They seamlessly blend pastoral electronic sounds with both field recordings and a plethora of acoustic instruments. The resulting soundscapes are broad in scope and rich in detail. The effect is incredibly sublime and hypnotic as the sounds slowly wrap themselves around each other and alter themselves in the mind of the listener. Within their realm of experimentation, they share similarities with Fennesz’s guitar ambient or the 12K aesthetic but regularly cross over into psychedelic and kosmische (Harmonia, Cluster, Popol Vuh) territories.

NATE WOOLEY (b. 1974) grew up in a Finnish-American fishing village in Oregon.  He has spent the rest of his life trying musically to find a way back to the peace and quiet of that time by whole-heartedly embracing the space between complete absorption in sound and relative absence of the same. Nate currently resides in Jersey City, NJ and performs solo trumpet improvisations as well as collaborating with such diverse artists as Anthony Braxton, Paul Lytton, John Zorn, Fred Frith, Wolf Eyes, Akron/Family, David Grubbs, C. Spencer Yeh, ...

Other small clubs (not really lofts) that are trying to develop a more interesting scene are the Hot Club De Gand and the El Negocito. One could also maybe include the JazzOlder sessions. (click here and follow the links).

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