Wednesday, June 09, 2004

My mission to fill the Stirling News with esoteric wittering continues apace. There's another, quite different, and often better, version for Is This Music? Some sloppy bits here, but nice stuff too. I can use the two for the basis of an extended Beard account. I've got piccies too!

Is Le Weekend the best thing to have happened to Stirling? Quite possibly. Some might run screaming at the prospect of four days of experimental music. It's their loss, because this festival was an exhilarating display of the possibilities of art.
Opening the festival Paul Dunmall, Paul Rogers and Hamid Drake cooked up free jazz of tremendous rhythmic energy, Dunmall's saxophone coursing over Rogers' seven string double bass.
Borbetomagus followed with the loudest, most terrifying live performance I've ever seen. Over a relentless guitar roar, two saxophones were blasted through Marshall amps. The gonzoid onslaught of skronk never let up. Bracing, to say the least.
Friday's Weird Folk artists inhabited the point where American roots music meets outer space. Heather Leigh Murray's otherworldly pedal steel improvisations were closer to Venus than Nashville, while Pelt incorporated Indian modes into their minimalist drone. But it was the MV & EE Medicine Show who stole the show, bringing a Beat poet sensibility to Appalachian song.
Saturday was a blast. Music For Buildings was a thrilling improvisation cum sound-installion featuring local musicians. While the band played in the attic their parts were sampled and electronically manipulated before being sent to speakers throughout the building. A glorious cacophony of saxes, strings and digital chaos spiralled up the staircase. An inspired project.
Putting paid to any notions of inaccessibility Haco and Sakamoto Hiromishi combined quite beautiful songs with sonci sculpture. Hiromishi did the business on cleeo and musical saw, while Haco sang and played with her electronic gadgets and china pot.
Equally wonderful were System D, featuring Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger and Senegalese musicians Mollay Sylla and Serigne Gueye. Pizzicato cello provided a spry counterpoint to the sublime African percussion and vocals. But there was a primal side to the music, Sylla's vocals breaking down into a series of grunts and wails at the climax. This was the sort of performance that stays with you long afterwards.
Folk guitarist Glen Jones stepped in for the Loren Mazzacane Connors and Suzanne Langille, who were unable to attend due to illness. Jones's magical pickings were made all the more special when Pelt's brilliant Jack Rose joined on lap steel for a bluesy doodle.
It was left to the Dead C to bring things to a close, and boy, did they rock. Largely instrumental, this was all about texture and dynamics, supple rhythms cutting through crystalline feedback.
Le Weekend is for everyone. I took the plunge and it blew my mind.

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