If You Find The Earth Boring...

Magic Mirrors

I’m playing more catch-up here trying to fill you in on music performed at the Nancy Jazz Pulsations Festival, this time showcasing music performed in the art nouveau inspired temporary tent venue called Magic Mirrors.  This venue sports some pretty incredible fine art-nouveau details with lots of (quite literal) smoke and mirrors involved.  This might seem strange considering this is a mobile tent with a stage, but quite honestly this was one of the best venues I have seen music in.  While I did miss some of the music performed here - it was simply impossible to catch it all - here’s a recap of the performances I saw here during the festival. The first band I saw perform was Beast, a quartet from Montreal.  There are other groups with this name, so in a live setting it’s a little confusing to figure out which band by this name you will be seeing.  This Beast’s big claim to fame is their lead vocalist, Betty Bonifassi, also known as the woman who sang in the movie The Triplettes of Belleville, so you have an idea of what her voice sounds like.  Beast also includes composer and producer Jean-Philippe Goncalves.  Beast truly live up to their name, not only do their instruments appear to be cobbled together forming an amalgam of some hybrid, um, beast, but their sound stirs together 80’s electro with some vaudevillian vocals without forgetting to add just plain old rock ‘n’ roll to the mix.  They put out an album in 2008 which I haven’t heard, so perhaps there is another record in the works.  I don’t know. I was looking forward to catching Paris-based duo Zombie Zombie perform a “tribute” set to the film music of John Carpenter, so I did not want to miss their performance.  Not only did they a display a mind-blowing collection of vintage synths, but they keyboard and drums duo absolutely know how to squeeze every ounce of energy from them.  Zombie Zombie clearly showed their love of horror movie soundtracks and metal in all its forms.  Despite the fact that they do not play guitars, this does not stop them from rocking out.  They even toyed with some of Carpenter’s songs to the point of having everyone in the crowd dancing.  I’m a big fan of John Carpenter’s creepy music and Zombie Zombie played a fantastic tribute complete with warped tape manipulated movie samples collected from Carpenter’s films.  This was also great to see just before Halloween! Lastly, I caught what was billed as a Ninja Tune Records 20th anniversary show featuring Andreya Triana and Grasscut.  I was only aware of Andreya Triana from her vocal contributions to the Flying Lotus track “Tea Leaf Dancers”, so I was curious to see her perform.  Accompanied by guitar and bass, as well as some effects for multi-tracking her voice, her stripped down set was extremely well received by the crowd, as evidenced by cheering for two encores.  Her record Lost Where I Belong , which is mainly produced by Bonobo, is really strong and you should seriously check it out.  I’m already seeing it pop up on some early favorites lists for the year. Grasscut performed a DJ set, playing new songs from their release 1 inch / ½ mile on Ninja Tune.  They got the crowd dancing by mixing their tunes with some by Hot Chip, Foals, and Four Tet.  Their debut record is a successful yet strange mix with one foot firmly in the past - mainly a melancholic BBC radiophonic workshop styled nostalgia mixed with 60’s Folky Britain - and the other foot firmly planted in a mellowed out dancefloor groove that never really develops to heart-pounding levels.

Baby, You're A Rich Man

Finally had a chance to check out David Fincher’s new (well, relatively new here in France) movie The Social Network last night.  I’ve already mentioned the movie previously, so I won’t carry on here.  I am a sucker for a great script and this movie has one.  The film grabs you in the first scene - a scene which basically reverberates through the whole story - and doesn’t let up. I had grand plans here to write more about the movie, but really, what can I say?  Go see it. One thing that has been floating through my mind since seeing the movie is the concept of richness.  Some people measure richness as a level of how diverse something is, such as the quantification of biological diversity.  Some people think being rich is having a lot of cash money.  Some people think being rich is having a lot of friends.  Some people think being rich is having the one thing you want.  What do you think? Also, read or listen to this.

A Quiet Evening With Henry & Gatsby

Please forgive the break in posts, life has been quite crazy for me right now.  I’ve been visiting a research group in the UK and my days have been packed with meetings and seminars and great food and company.  I have a lot on deck for posting so please check back soon. After a very nice dinner with my host laboratory last night, I unwound with a pint of Henry’s at Cricketers in So’ton and enjoyed reading an opinion take in one of my favorite newspapers about one of my favorite books. Perhaps you would like to read the article too.  The comments at the end of the article are also an interesting read.

It's Always Sunny In Heidelberg

I took advantage of the long European Holiday weekend and went to visit some family in Heidelberg.  Here’s a photo diary of my journey. Nancy Ville > Metz > Luxembourg > Saarbruecken > Heidelberg > Karlsruhe > Appenweier > Strasbourg > Nancy Ville

Christina Kubisch’s Paysages De La Ruhr

Since I just spent some time in Germany, it’s a great opportunity to tell you about German artist Christina Kubisch and her installation at the Goethe Institute in Nancy, which I recently attended. The installation will be in place until November 19th of this year so there is still time to check it out if you are able to. Christina Kubisch’s work has long straddled the line between audio and visual arts. Essentially, this installation showcases her recent work documenting audio derived from magnetic fields emanating from specific locations. Each location is represented by both a photo and a headset recording. The audio consists of electromagnetic waves converted to audio sound. Each location has a specific signature sound based on the “electromagnetic fingerprint” of that particular place. For example: the cow pasture was relatively quiet, and in comparison, the dual ATMs were squealing noise akin to Merzbow’s Rainbow Electronics album. One thing Kubisch shows here is how frighteningly pervasive electromagnetic waves are; yes, you would expect them walking down a city street, but in a cow pasture? The diversity of sounds in differing locations also documents the variation of electric fields we are unaware of on an everyday basis, which, frankly, scares me in a strangely beautiful way.