Sunday, April 20, 2008

Toshi Makihara & Jim Meneses - Next Bug

Toshi Makihara / Jim Meneses - Next Bug
This is one of those albums that took me by surprise at a time I thought nothing can surprise me anymore (you know that feeling ?). Its been a few years now that I started to re- enjoy and appreciate improvisations and this album is among those improvised music that made me realize I have been missing out on some essential music.
I met Jim Meneses at a Blast show in Holland in 2002 (Jim played with Blast on the album Wire Stitched Ears) At the end of a train ride back to Amsterdam he have me a cd and told me something like "this is my latest project its a improvisation I did with another percussionist"
I had no clue what was waiting for me when I put on my little Koss SportaPro headphones late that night. ....
I can't find another term to describe this cd other then Electro Acoustic (Yes I know this term has been overused and I probably like using this in another context then the usual known one.) The point I am trying to make by saying its Electro Acoustic is that this is a rare example of mixing electronic designed and controlled sounds with pure acoustic timbres that actually sound "physical" and the result fully lives up to the term.
Jim Menese has developed a system of controlling/ playing/generating sounds/events he designed with a Midi Mallet Interface
It seems that a lot of time and thought was put into designing these sounds/soundscapes some sound mechanic and technical some give the sense of of open spaces some abrasive some Jim has a huge palette of sounds he can draw from and react in real time depending on the mood and need of the interplay between him and Toshi's percussion.
So this work is special in 2 different planes one is the way acoustic and electronic are able to work and interact and the other is the quality of musicianship that Jim and Toshi demonstrate here.
This cd was released by French label Sonore a sound sample can be heard here

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thinking Plague Live In Europe

Thinking Plague has been one of my favorite bands for many years so naturally when Mike Johnson asked me to mix their live sound on this mini European tour I told him I was interested.
I have met the Plagues the previous time they were in Europe and had a chance to see them play at the MiMi Festival so I had some idea of how they sound live. TP's music is extremely dynamic in the sense it works on different "planes" and states,there is constant movement and rapid changes and the arrangements reflect these different moods from tight hard in your face passages to eternal wide open sombre pictures. So for me the challenge was to be able to present this mix of elements in a live situation.I am not sure if I succeeded to do so but I think I came close on 2 shows (Wurzburg and Milan) This time around The band consisted of Mike Johnson (Fearless Leader and composer and one of my favorite guitarist ). Long time multi reed player Mark Harris (Alto,Soprano Sax,Clarinet & Flute) Dave Wiley on Bass of Hamster Theater , Dave Kerman (Rer Usa President) on drums. The 2 newcomers to the band this time are both amazing musicians whom I have not met in person but nevertheless know and love their music a lot: Stevan Tickmayer on Piano & keyboards (Stevan is the composer of both Science Group cds and has a few solo cds on the Rer label) and Elaine Di Falco ( of the wonderful Caveman Shoestore) on Vocals. Elaine had the tough job of stepping in and replacing and augmenting TP's vocalist Deborah Perry and she did it in a most commendable way .

After 3 days of rehearsals organized by Stevan at a local music school in Orleans came the first show at Les Triton in Paris. The show was successful: the energy level was high and despite being the "first show" the playing was good. The highlight was a guest appearance of BD (bear dog) on 2 songs from the classic In This Life album.Here is also a short extract from one of the songs:
Right after Paris we traveled to Germany's progressive capitol Wurzburg were we were treated like royalty by our generous host the one and only Charly Heidenreich
It was hot in the venue that night as you can see :-)

One show in Geneva with What's Wrong With Us (actually I asked myself the same quastion that night...) were Maggie Thomas a.k.a. Art bear IV was pulled from retirement and did the live sound for What's Wrong With Us
Then off to Milan to play a show with local band Yugen with whom I got to work (mixing their debut album "Labirinto d'Aqua") So it was "natural" that I would mix both bands. Yugen now consists of 9 musicians so I had my hands full that night but with a good dose of the excellent world famous Italian esspersso's I was able to gather the energies needed and I enjoyed both shows immensely - I also had the pleasure of meeting Paolo Griguolo the guitar player of the legendary Picchio Dal Pozzo my favorite band From Italy. My thanks to all my friends in Milan (Marcello Marinone Francesco Zaggo etc.)

no time to sleep we

immediately flew to Portugal for the main show of this mini tour The Gouveia Art Rock Festival
Unlike the previous time I was there with Present this time I had enough time to discover the beauty of this picturesque little village and be able to relax and enjoy the excellent company of our hosts and fellow musicians. Some images from the TP show by the Swiss renowned music photographer Claude Wacker

Whats there to add a great Festival fun people to hang out with and... the weather was perfect
The whole organization is professional smooth and extremely generous with the artists and the vibe and atmosphere was relaxed and laid back
Nice surprises with the selection of the line up (for me Les Reines Prochaines was THE highlight)
Aranis were great (and their sound was perfect) VDGG powerful and
impressive Mike Kenealy was fun and entertaining

Thanks to Luis & Eduardo for making all of this happen !
Some more images from the festival.

I had a great time meeting old friends and making new ones
Thank You Roger Martine and Pierre for traveling all the way from Brussels to see us in Paris,Thank you Stevan for that excellent goulash and incredible music you played us that night,muchas gracias to the one and only FreakCharly,Cedric Vuille for traveling a long way for us to meet greetings to Giovani Venosta for late night entertainment and nice wine, Aymeric LeRoy for providing us with your time energy and hospitality Bob and Maggie...

Hope next time will not be in 2017...