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.