The First Days of Spring (2)

Hello! Well, it turns out that I did not go to the gig in the ICA. I have to confess that after having seen the film, I did not find the inspiration to go to the gig. Honestly, I did have the best of intentions to go, but during the day I became more and more weary about listening to the same songs yet again. In other words, I refused to become part of a “captive audience” twice over two days.

Instead I ended up going to a Dutch pub with some friends I had not seen for some time. It turned out to be a good evening, in spite of the presence of an “evolution agnostic” friend of a friend!

The First Days of Spring

The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) was the venue, the band “Noah and the Whale”, the album-film “The First Days of Spring”, the result a bit mixed…

When I first heard “5 Years Time” I could not help but feel a smile to take shape in my face and I almost felt compelled to sing along the addictive “sun, sun, sun” choir. So when I heard that the ICA was going to hold a gig with the band and that they were also going to screen the film that was supposed to be released together with their new album I decided to get a couple of tickets.

The venue was, as usual Thursday evening, packed with people and the fact that there was also a play in the theatre added to the general feeling of an art evening. Eventually, people started to make their way to Cinema 1, where the film was shown. The film producer Olivier Kaempfer introduced the film by mentioning that they would start by showing what can only be described as a home made extended video of an unplugged impromptu gig at someone’s house. It obviously had its value, but I would have rather seen that playing in the bar as a background rather than the introduction to the film

By the time the actual film started you had already heard the main songs of the album and thus there was no actual surprise as to what the music brought to the narrative of the film. Now, for those of you who would have imagined that Dalí’s painting would have been some form of inspiration for the images in the film would be very disappointed. Instead we are presented with a low-budget 45-minute piece that tries to be an exploration of broken hearts, break-ups and loss. Although for someone as young as Fink, it seems to me to be early days to suffer that much for someone. That is not to say that his pain is not a valid emotion, but given some of the clichéd lyrics, you would know what I mean.

In my opinion the best scene of the shot film is the one where a seemingly serious and earnest elderly gentleman breaks into dance at the rhythm of an orchestral arrangement entitled “Love of an Orchestra”.

During the question and answer session, Fink mentioned that the idea of making the film along with the album was to provide the latter with a framework in which the audience has no choice but to listen to the entire compilation of songs, and what better way to keep the audience captive than in a dark cinema. Personally I don’t see anything wrong with being able to pick and choose the songs that you prefer in an album. This is a process that has happened even before the age of iTunes and the iPod. Just think of all those mixed tapes that people used to make for one another; some of them even with the same excuse of a broken heart.

Tonight the band has a gig in the same venue as part of the screening of the film. I hope that the live performance brings the best out their music; the film did not make it for me.

Bugge Wesseltoft’s Gig

img_0158It is always a pleasure to listen to  excellent musicians play live. Last weekend I had the pleasure of listening and watching Bugge Wesseltoft in close proximity during a gig in the Jazz Cafe.

This time round Bugge played the house on his own using a piano and various other percussion instruments and the magic of his Macbook Pro.

He has the fantastic ability of creating the most amazing atmosphere with rhythms that manage to fill the room and the spirit of his audience. He makes it look like music creation is such an easy task, that any of us could have as much fun as he does while playing with a piano. I am afraid to say that the results are not always as charming as Bugge’s. Should you have the opportunity to see him play live, I would highly recommend not letting it pass by.

Playing the building

With a little bit of a delay, but better now than never. A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to visit the new installation that David Byrne has re-created in the Roundhouse in Camden.

Notice that I say re-created as Byrne had originally created the installation for the Färgfabriken in Stockholm in 2005. The installation has transformed the Roundhouse building into a huge musical instrument which the visiting crowd can play through the keyboard of an old pump organ that is place in the centre of the space.

The sound is produced by attaching various devices to the structure of the building such as the metal beams, the plumbing or the water pipes. It is important to mention that no effort has been placed in concealing these attachments and thus the player/spectator can trace the source of the sounds. Those sounds are produced by wind, vibrations or strikes. It would be difficult to say that you can play “melodies”, but nonetheless the result does put a smile in the faces of the visitors.

Stripped of a stage or seating benches, the space seems to be much smaller than usual, and the cacophony of the installation fills the arena in a way that invites the players to experience the building at a different level.

Playing the building is on show until August 31, 2009.