Semibreve Festival: Day Two
Posted In: Alva Noto, Black Koyote, Christian Fennesz, Pascal Savy, Pedro Maia, Semibreve Festival
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Christian Fennesz opened the second day of the Semibreve festival along with Portuguese video artist Pedro Maia whose contribution was certainly a wonderful and immersive addition to Fennesz’s stellar layering and looping work. The opening section, stretching over nearly 10 minutes, felt like moving in chthonic currents and cavernous rumbles before liquid motions coalesced into more tangible forms, harmonic shapes emerging slowly from the ashes as long melodic swells formed and repeated. As the ever expanding bed of sound morphed into an haunting and dissonant quietude, the few chords of his recent ‘Liminal’ turned the mood of the performance upside down and attached a strong emotional narrative that called for humility and attention. If the recorded version is somewhat expansive and nearly filmic, this interpretation was very much deeply personal and introspective but yet able to reach outwards to the audience – certainly a highlight of the evening. For the rest of the 45min performance, foggy echo-drenched guitars, fuzzy layers of static and organ-like swells ebbed and flowed in an immersive and inviting manner as Maia’s visuals echoed perfectly the mood and atmosphere diffused to the audience. Fennesz is well known for writing personal records and his latest EP ‘Seven Stars’ couldn’t be recommended enough. But seeing him live was certainly a raw and emotional moment, and the way he conveyed what he had to say was immensely touching and very humbling – a rare experience to say the least.
The second performance of the evening was held in the small auditorium of the theater, in which the contemplative quietude of the Mathieu/Deupree performance from the day before was still inhabiting the room. A quietude that Portuguese collective Black Koyote spent the first few minutes of their set to evoke with gentle evolving pads and delicate electronic manipulations before real drums and percussions became part of the equation. The performance structured more like a concert with clearly delineated songs and applause in between reminded me of the truly beautiful album Live at Centre Pompidou by Console. It might be the textures at play, the use of live drums and electronics or just a deep narrative mood, but Black Koyote’s music made a very strong impression that night, and the incredibly creative visuals drawn in real-time on a tablet and projected on the wall behind the musicians were certainly a strong point of their set.
Carsten Nicolai under his Alva Noto moniker closed the evening in the main room playing his very recent ‘Univrs’ album in its entirety. As anyone familiar with Nicolai’s music might expect, the performance was nothing less than extraordinary and overwhelming. Despite slight technical problems with the PA in the first 10 minutes of his set, he managed to play drums loops and syncopated rhythmic motifs in such a way that they had a tridimensional quality and, at times, seemed to crystallise in the air like physical objects appearing out the void. Drawing on his fascination with data representation, the visuals consisted mainly of wave forms under various guises and had a singular hypnotic effect on the audience that certainly enhance the performance in a powerful synesthetic manner. But having the chance to hear Carsten Nicolai’s music clear and loud, and ironically enough not in a club setting as the music clearly hints at, one couldn’t help appreciate the weight and careful sound design of every single sonic element – loops becoming live sculpture where one could admire the grain of the textures upon repeated rotation. When nearly half an hour into his set, Nicolai unleashed ‘Uni C’, the mind blowing bass dynamics of the track seemed to cut deeply through the main arena of the theater and transport it right at the epicenter of an earthquake, and that was before playing the ridiculously hypnotic ‘Uni Acronym’ which, like Jon Hopkins did it the day before, turned the theater upside down. If the album-version had made a very strong impression on me, the live rendition, where each acronym was projected on screen, completely transported me to a timeless place from which I could contemplate the music in time-lapse motion – a weird and wonderful experience. I couldn’t help thinking how Cartsen Nicolai’s music could more than likely gloriously resonate in a dark warehouse and truly reveal its haunting beauty and physical impact, but for now it was in a full-blown theater that I was literally absorbing every single note and rhythm, and that made for a truly moving and extraordinary mind experience.
- Review by Pascal Savy for Fluid Radio
- Photography by Pascal Savy & Adriano Ferreira Borges (Fotografia // Video)