Blowing up pianos – Cats Park Your Love is a Sin

October 22nd, 2013 § 1

Watching this video is tough for someone who loves music, musical instruments and antiques. trip pop Russian band Cats Park destroys a gorgeous old C. Goetze signed black upright piano. When the paint started to flow I thought it might just by water based and wondered how they would clean it off. How wrong I was.

If Hollywood can blow up cars and buildings (less and less, more and more done purely in CGI), indie music videos should have the right smash old pianos in the pursuit of art.

Apart from the death of the piano, a quite beautiful and simple video. Like most good videos, there’s a single strong image and it’s followed through consistently. We create and then we destroy. There is no permanence. Echoes of Shelley’s Ozymandias. Even truer in emotional terms. The closest couples often become the most bitter enemies or the most estranged souls on the planet.

Blowing up pianos - Cats Park Your Love is a Sin Continues »

Laura Marling is just the start

June 22nd, 2013 § 0

If you’ve read uncoy before or worked in the offices at Foliovision, you’d know I have a penchant for female singer songwriters and good taste in the same. One day I was looking for Charlie Fink, I needed his profile picture for a project. And ended up with the peculiar frontman from Noah and the Whale on the I was looking for a different Charlie Fink but read enough of the article to hear that the wrong Charlie Fink had dated an amazing songwriter/singer Laura Marling. Go to the clouds now with some of her tunes off of Once I was an Eagle.

Laura Marling is just the start Continues »

Melissa Horn, Under Löven: Music to change your life

October 20th, 2012 § 2

I recently came across the most beautiful music I’ve heard in years. Prepare to have your life changed in the next five minutes. If you are not ready for that stop reading and most importantly stop listening now.

The most similar revelatory experiences I’ve had would be Anna Azema’s Le Jeu d’Amour followed by Rachel Smith’s The Clearing or earlier Tori Amos’s Little Earthquake and Van Morisson’s Veedon Fleece.

Sadly I have to start with the video. I first heard the music in the dark without any visuals. Horn’s pretty face and passionate delivery are a distraction from the depth of the song. As much as her profoundly emotional voice, it’s the guitar works which makes Under löven work.

When I first listened to Under Löven, I couldn’t figure out how the guitarist managed to be both so quiet and so active at the same time. The video alas reveals his hand immediately. There are two of them on similar guitars.

Melissa Horn, Under Löven: Music to change your life Continues »

Bicycles and Bratislava

September 30th, 2012 § 0

Bicycles and Bratislava, what could be better? Two of my favorite things.

PARA – Žena from Martina SLOVAKOVA

Things are happening culturally in Bratislava, a lot of the work is just underground.

Bicycles and Bratislava Continues »

ImPulsTanz 2012: Benoît Lachambre – Snakeskins

August 10th, 2012 § 0

For years I’ve been hearing about Benoît Lachambre and how splendid and illuminating his work is. From the same crowd who love Jerôme Bel and detest Anna Teresa de Keersmaker and passionately loathe ballet.

Hence Lachambre’s work has always appeared conceptual and fairly painful to me. In the best case, instructive or prophylactic, like a trip to the dentist. The tangy taste I had of his work with Clara Furey at the Franz West Tribute did inspire me to attend a full show. What impressed me there was his intensity. Lila, under Lachambre’s mentorship for the summer, told me that his main speech to DanceWeb was all about intensity on stage. A very good point to make.

Benoit Lachambre Snakeskins photo Christine Rose Divito
Benoit Lachambre Snakeskins: LaChambre is bottom left, Albanese is bottom left
Rowe is on top of the rig pounding a thunder sheet
photo Christine Rose Divito

In “Snakeskins”, Lachambre begins by hanging upside down in a harness under a vast set of cables which dip four metres out to the audience. On the left of the netting is a guitarist with some computers and sound decks. As Lachambre waves his arms and the cables move, he appears to be flying like a giant bird. As he flies the music soars.

Throughout the piece Hahn Rowe’s sound is incredible. The closest equivalent which comes to mind (without Frip’s vocals) would be King Crimson. Or the Canadian band Black Emperor. Rowe for extended passages even plays his guitar with a bow like a classical violinist.

ImPulsTanz 2012: Benoît Lachambre - Snakeskins Continues »

Volksoper Ballet: Carmina Burana – Afternoon of a Faun – Bolero

March 2nd, 2012 § 1

Afternoon of a Faun, Bolero and Carmina Burana are Volksopera’s dance corps chance to shine outside the shadow of the main ballet.

Afternoon with a Faun immediately brings memories of Nijinski, the famous photograph. It’s a dangerous standard to lance against. Choreographer Boris Nebyla has never lacked courage and plunges straight in. The stage is spare with just four white ceiling to floor breaking the all black stage, light slips through from behind. At the front of the stage, Mihail Sosnovschi poses front foot under him back leg extended. His powerful physique impresses right away. Sosnovschi strikes a series of poses to Debussy’s music, sometimes balletic, sometimes more from a bodybuilder’s show.

Faun: Mihail Sosnovschi

At this point, one is optimistic about the duet to come. Lovely Brazilian Tainá Ferreira Luiz creeps across the back of the stage between the columns. Her hair is dyed a flaming red and she is clad in a flesh toned body suit.

The pair now pose together and interact in some sort of flirt. It’s all strangely sexless though. From here Afternoon of a Faun just meanders. There’s a hint of hope for some flames when Luiz with her legs extended backwards and on her stomach with Sosnovoschi above juts her hips into the floor three times, as if making love but it’s just a tiny spark in a very tasteful but too benign Afternoon of a Faun.

Faun: Tainá Ferreira Luiz & Mihail Sosnovschi

Bolero is the creation of András Lukács, Hungarian wunderkind of the Harangozo’s regime. Lukács is almost all grown up now and toils no more for choreolab but for the main stage. No excuses now.

In tackling Bolero, once again the choreographer is taking the measure of a musical work greater in the imagination than anything he or she could create.

Volksoper Ballet: Carmina Burana - Afternoon of a Faun - Bolero Continues »

Winterreise Linz: Jochen Ulrich and Heinz Winbeck

June 18th, 2011 § 0

Winterreise is one of the best concerts you will ever attend. A splendid evening of Schubert music. Choreographer Jochen Ulrich worked hand in hand with composer Heinz Winbeck to develop a full length score of the best of Schubert’s music for orchester and a singer.

The singer Martin Achrainer fills each song full of portent and passion. Fans of German lieder would swoon. I hope there’s a compact disc for sale. In his dramatic performance, Achrainer often takes the role of the composer Schubert himself, writing out sheafs and sheafs of music on stage in the first act.

The stage is dramatically decked out with a huge round mirror overhead, about 15 metres across, which can flutter in moments of dramatic importance offering a strange through the looking glass feel. At the front corner of the stage there is an impressionist painting of Schubert’s time. Alas, the painting at 1.5 metres wide is too small to be intelligible and too large not to notice. Most of the lighting is strongly green tinted for some reason. Alas for most of the piece, the lights are also just too bright. I’m no fan of watching dance in the dark, but until the last half hour of the two hour performance, one felt that one was under rehearsal lights and the light technicians went off duty while the choreographer and dancers worked.

Jochen Ulrich Winterreise ensemble
Jochen Ulrich Winterreise ensemble

With such bright lights, the large atmospheric candelabra arrangements on stage had little effect.

In spite of the interrogation lights, the dramatic development is extremely difficult to follow. In the beginning there is a stream of beautiful women wandering on stage only to be accosted by pairs of men and disappear. Later when the women reappear on stage they are inebriated and stumbling. Now they are out and out ravished by packs of four and five men. Looking into the program one learns that there’s a bride (Clara Pascual Martí) and her mother (Irene Bauer). Bauer changes costume more than anyone else in the production, strutting gorgeously in high heels and a tight tiny white skirt in her first appearance and with a long spell in the second act in a long black evening gown, an elegant precursor to the flappers. I’ve rarely seen someone dance so well in high heels but as the mother, Bauer is sadly often left to just wander around.

Fabrice Jucquois Irene Bauer Clara Pascual Marti
Fabrice Jucquois Irene Bauer Clara Pascual Marti

The cast list continues with a father (Fabrice Jucquois), a sister (Anna Sterbová), a brother in law (Wallace Jones) and an uncle (Daniel Morales Pérez). On the other side we have a groom (Matej Pajgert), his mother (Sarah Deltenre), his father (Alexander Novikov), his brother (Emilijus Miliauskas), his female cousin (Lucia Patoprstá) and his sister-in-law (Marietta Kro). Who all of these people are we really have no idea. They spend a lot of time kissing one another and pulling up the women’s skirts. Kro is particularly winsome in her long dress with her attentive lover Daniel Morales Pérez. Wallace Jones impresses with his tender attentions to his partners male and female in his appearances. Jucquois convinces as a sufficiently dominant patriarchal presence.

Schubert’s personal life was difficult, he often lived abroad. Towards the end of his life he suffered from severe illness and near blindness. But there is no direct equivalent in the Ulrich’s libretto. Ulrich’s starting point was of course Schubert’s music and curiously wedding scenes from the films of Fellini and Kusterica.

Fellini’s mad weddings are difficult enough to comprehend on film. In the theater, one doesn’t have the same chance to change viewpoint or perspictive, unless its via selective light of which we saw little. I’m not quite sure how an early death to syphilis at 31 (Schubert’s fate) is equivalent to incest and rape among the gypsies.

Still the lyrics of the Winterreise songs (the words were not written by Schubert but rather by a poet he admired, Wilhelm Müller or for some of the songs by composer Heinz Winbeck) do support Ulrich’s dark vision:

Heart be still
Why do you hammer relentless
It's the will of the heavens
That I must leave you now.

Of course, with dancers as luscious as Bauer, Kro and Patoprstá one doesn’t always need a linear libretto. The men don’t look too bad stripped to the waist and in black trousers either. Whatever the story, there is far too much walking and too much pantomime. Why they wander and wander in circles is a mystery to me. I can understand that Ulrich wants to experiment with gait, but that doesn’t seem to be his intention. It’s as if we are watching an early walk through where the steps haven’t all been set and the dancers are just finding their places.

Nearly all of these episodes could be energetically danced and bridged with dance. Grigorovich told stories through dance in his ballets, particularly Romeo and Juliet, I don’t know why Ulrich doesn’t want to take the final step and insist the movement tell his story.

No matter how fed up one gets with strutting dancers and the incoherently episodic story, one can always return in the end to Achrainer’s singing.

Besides Achrainer’s fine singing, the musical side had solid support from a good orchestra performance under conductor Takeshi Moriuchi’s energetic leadership. Maaki Namekawa’s solid piano solos.

The final half-hour picks up when the lights go down and something approaching a marriage and the family photo afterwards slowly devolves to surrealistic spinning of the stage while a figure in red silk lies crucified. At one point the feathers are thrown up in the air over the group as dancers pose in the middle giving us the effect of one of those glass snow scenes shaken up as the snow floats down. Later Achrainer plays with a wooden rocking horse in the foreground with dark glasses, slowly going blind and losing his mind.

One wonders why Ulrich waited for the last half hour to do something with the lights and to really work his story.

In the end, no harm is done. For the languid stretches, one can close one’s eyes and just listen to Schubert’s astonishing songs beautifully renderd by both orchestra and singer. Yet if it weren’t for the wonderful music, Winterreise might be judged confusing and over long.

In spite of it all, there is great pleasure in Winterreise. At least Ulrich’s dancers are doing something and there’s great music to hear. Dance life can be much worse: one could be stuck in the Vienna contemporary dance scene, watching dancers sulk in the corner in dirty jogging suits, picking at scabs on their arms. Go to Landestheater Linz instead.

While you’re at Landestheater Li, don’t miss the Promenadenhof next door. There’s a fabulous garden and the traditional Austrian pastries are top-notch.

Having seen Winterreise here in Linz, I’m very curious about the Hamburg Ballet’s version by John Neueimeier from 2001.

For more information about Jochen Ulrich’s Winterreise, including performance dates, photographs and tickets, visit the Landestheater Linz website.

Paean to the Oceans: Dark Side of the Lens

October 4th, 2010 § 2

dark side of the lens whales
dark side of the lens whales
dark side of the lens gulls
dark side of the lens gulls
dark side of the lens diver
dark side of the lens diver

This film is supposed to be about surfing and underwater photography.

For me it is about the sea and it is a paeon to this monument of beauty spanning most of the planet.

I see this and I wonder how we continue to relentlessly despoil this unrepairable wonder with oil spills, deslickers, polluted rivers, radioactive waste.

The wickedness of civilisation, at least in its capitalist extant, is to borrow the profit of today against the misery of tomorrow. Man has been at this a long time though. The folk of Easter Island expired when they consumed their entire food chain.

Even archeology has not been enough to sober world leaders apart from that fleeting glimpse of a president Gore.

But back to the film and the ocean. Don’t miss the splendid soundtrack and the free poetry of the voiceover. Here’s a few strong phrases.

i never set out to become anything particular, only to live creatively…

my heart bleeds celtic blood and I’m magnetised to familiar frontiers…

if i only scrape a living it’s a living worth scraping..


Both words and music strongly wrought by subject and filmmaker Mickey Smith. 

A small SEO thanks to energy drink Relentless for making this possible. Via ISO50.