Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fake Jazz Fridays - a Report from the (Western) Front

i/i by Femke van Delft

So last Friday we had another spillover from the Cobalt's Fake Jazz Wednesday series at the Western Front, with a returned DB Boyko presenting Fake Jazz Fridays, featuring i/i, von Bingen, The Sorrow and the Pity, and some guy named Dr. Ultra (Thee Holee See could not be there). Though once again the event demonstrated that Vancouver has a vibrant and strange arts community, the audience was a tad smallish. There must have been competition from the VIFF - but the people who came had a fine time. Or at least I did, and the people sitting with me, who made up around 10% of the attendees, not counting band members.
i/i by Femke van Delft

i/i (pronounced i-slash-i) are apparently disbanding, alas; Anju, if I'm reading my notes right, plans to take up studying ASL for the blind, Peter is leaving to raise sheep in the steppes of Alberta, Dave is going to Europe to follow basketball, while Graham is going to do something with his friend's balls. Or else he has a friend named Balls? No, wait... I shouldn't have smoked that joint before the show... Anyhow, I got a bit more of a grip on their music as a result of seeing them again. I'd thought of 70's improvised instrumental psych rock - with a certain German vibe - bent through the filter of Sonic Youth the first time I saw them; I improved that immensely at the Front by mixing in a generous dollop of post-rock (and not just because they have no vocals or because Anju plays violin), and then got taken for a spin by Dave Chokroun's comment that they reminded him of Neurosis. Which I couldn't initially make sense of, except Peter, later, acknowledged it and mentioned Isis as a further elaboration. He gave even more credit to Femke's observation that they sound like Jesu (who apparently have a Godflesh tie-in, but we're getting into the realm of Music That I Don't Listen To here). And me thinking of Godspeed You! Black Emperor... sigh. Peter's one of those guys whose command of genre and current bands make me feel kind of ill-equipped to write about music, frankly - a sort of Geek Penis Envy sets in. He personally sees i/i as inhabiting the realm of shoegaze. I owned a My Bloody Valentine cassette once, but 99% of so-called shoegaze bands have gazed at their shoes unheard by me, so how can I intelligently engage in this discussion? Adjectives I should have worked into the above paragraph include loud, texturally dense, vaguely monolithic, and semi-transcendent. Certainly your ears feel different after they play. Are Anju and Graham going to play Montreal with Ahna? I think so.

von Bingen by Femke van Delft

News for followers of Hildegard/ von Bingen: Josh Stevenson tells me they have a new album coming up on Amen Abscend, back east. It's good to have some news to report, since I don't think I can do justice to their music (a satisfyingly trippy, dense but lyrical improv/drone, reminding me of a slightly more rock-oriented LaMonte Young or a tranquil spell at the Church of Anthrax). And I can no more detail the gear they brought onstage with them than I can pin down i/i's genre. No, wait, there was a clarinet (fed through things), a bass guitar (fed through things), a drum machine (was it fed through things, or were things fed through it?), a guitar (sometimes fed, sometimes not, and sometimes played with a slide). And then there were some, uh, synthesizers and effects boxes and... fuck, should I have gone around the stage scribbling this shit down? I didn't. That mighta been a Buchla. It was in a suitcase. It had tubes. And while I'm confused, while I do know of the mystical abess for whome they are named, what exactly is the difference between the tripartate bands Hildegard, Hildegard von Bingen, and von Bingen? It's one of those things that everyone knows but me, and at this point it is easier to be embarrassed to ask than it is to actually make the effort of finding out... File it under things I know that I don't know - which is better than things I don't know I don't know, right?

von Bingen by Femke van Delft

The Sorrow and the Pity by Femke van Delft

The Sorrow and the Pity I feel much more qualified to write about, except I've written about them several times and feel like I have to say something new. Uhh, let's see. Every time, in Dave's epic "Eating Shit," about the infliction of humiliation and blame, when he starts ranting as he drums about how we've all been there, thinking, "don't do it to me - do it to someone else," I want to call out, "Do it to Julia!" But I don't feel like enough people will get the joke to make it worth calling attention to myself. It would be a great name for an album: The Sorrow and the Pity Do It to Julia. The thing I like about these guys is that they present as a sort of joke until you actually start to meditate on their lyrics, which probe around your psyche seeking the weak points - your personal elements of complicity and collaboration (hence the name of the band). I myself drink at Starbucks now and then, but am willing to accept the band's subtle fist-up-the-sphincter moralizing because a) they do it with a sense of humour and b) because they don't wear gloves. Hey Darren Williams, the Brotzmann Songlines of which we spoke is here, and I was right, Rashied Ali is on it, and Fred Hopkins, too. I think it can be found cheaper through CD Hut on eBay... Darren informs me that The Sorrow and The Pity did a cover of Nomeansno's "Self-Pity" at the Cobalt not long ago, which I missed; can I humbly request they repeat this sometime I'm in the audience?

The Sorrow and the Pity by Femke van Delft

Oh: and The Sorrow and The Pity have a CD out now, too, which you can buy at their gigs. Have you all read my interview with Dave? And hey, check it out, there's a whole Wikipedia page devoted to Julia!

Dr. Ultra by Feke fan Belt

The final act during the night was a guy called Dr. Ultra. I asked about a dozen people during the course of the evening who Dr. Ultra was, and I'm still not sure. He wore a mask. He made music with a circuit-bent Speak and Spell. He ranted at us through some gear he held close to his chest about how no one liked him and he had nowhere to go, then suddenly, he went somewhere, walking out the front ranting his way down the stairs and leaving his gear in a pile by the exit, several of us following him, chuckling, after it became clear that he wasn't coming back. I raced back up to the venue to get Femke to photograph the pile by the door:

The Pile by the Door by Femke van Delft

Apparently - Dr. Ultra, demasked, told Fake Jazzers as he stood smoking in the parking lot, this was "the shortest Dr. Ultra gig ever," which I will have to take his word for.

Now I need to clean my apartment. As a final note: DB Boyko recommends people with a taste for the odd check out Blarvuster next week - I can't be there. I am far more excited by Pauline Oliveros visit. You should be, too.

Do people even check the links I painstaking insert into these things? Fuck. Go look at the Pauline Oliveros one, anyhow.

The post-Fake-Jazz smoke by Femke van Delft

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