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August 26 2009 4 26 /08 /August /2009 12:48

My Bloody Valentine

Effenaar, Eindhoven, 25th May 2009

 

One of those things you just pick up on in passing on NME.com – My Bloody Valentine are doing loads of festivals in Europe this year, but they are doing 1 (one!) indoor gig as a test / warmup, and that’s in Eindhoven. 1st time back there since 1984! Not only is it within driving distance, but there’s tickets available, at the bargain price of €25. By the next day, I’ve got a car-load of us scheduled for the pilgrimage.


First of all, a Word about Ned Raggett. Ned is a DJ/Reviewer/Pundit whom I first noticed as author of a number of reviews/write-ups of Chameleons albums. Turns out he’s really into Kitchens of Distinction (one of my all time favourite bands) as well. Further reading was key in introducing me to For Against. Ned’s no.1 album of all time is MBV’s Loveless. I had missed out on MBV the first time round in the 90’s, so Loveless had to be checked out, and sure enough, I was pretty impressed. Other things I’ve read about MBV (notably Ned’s interview with Kevin Shields), got me thinking this was one gig not to be missed.


So a car load consisting of me, Fred la Cerise, Ubiquitous Yves, and Élise the bassist all trekked up to Eindhoven. Warnings about “extreme noise” are posted on the door and everyone is being given a set of earplugs. Though most people seem to have their own anyway.

 


Opening act is Solex from Amsterdam. Not a lot that deserves to be said. Highlight of the show was when she reached inside her dress to straighten her bra-strap. Musically? John Peel said anything with a saxophone in it got assigned straight to the bin. The sax was sampled.

 


First, some guitar porn. When Bilinda walked on stage in a coral pink dress and matching cardigan, I sort of wondered if she’d got the right show. Until the guitar tech handed her the most gorgeous Fender Jaguar in shimmering metalized scarlet that lights up the stage like a glitter ball. Dress to blend in with the guitars. We got treated to maybe a dozen similarly gorgeous guitars – most looked like Jaguars. And amps. 8 very large stacks – 2 for Bilinda, 2 for Deb and 4 for Kevin, all carefully angled and separated with these transparent noise-walls. It’s notable that there are no overheads – Colm’s cymbals are close miked. Oh – and Kevin’s pedal board is about 2 meters long, and ties in to an amp-sized FX rack.

 


Instant, glorious, utter noise right from the first strum of “I only said” Yes, it’s phenomenally loud. Yes, it’s distorted to hell and back. But it’s also tight as anything, and very faithful to the recorded sound. Bilinda’s voice is sweet and beautiful, and just floats through the wall of noise like a butterfly in a hurricane. The sound of the distortion on the guitars is fascinating – I think it must be this that causes the listener to hear guitars and melodies that aren’t really there – it’s almost as if your brain is filtering through the noise and picking out the harmonics that make up new melodies. Is it real? Or is it an auditory illusion?


The set is unfortunately interrupted with technical issues, probably with Kevin’s vocal feedback loop. That’s exactly why they’re doing the gig – try out the equipment, so I’m not complaining. Though some of the crowd seem to think it’s worth a heckle.


Realise has a break/bridge section towards the end. It’s not on the recording. It’s affectionately known as “the holocaust”, and it consists of a long period where everyone plays as loud as possible. It’s an incredible experience – the sound takes over – it’s impossible to do anything – all communication stops – your whole body responds to the music (for music it still is – there are still melodies and rhythms, even if they’re no longer very distinct). Just let loose and become one with it all. By all accounts, the 10-15 minutes we got tonight was a bit short – it has been known to go on for over ½ hour.

Fred said it was almost exactly the same set as he’d seen them play in ’92. And it was still just as Bloody Marvellous.


Very nice summary here from DJHarrie on YouTube:

 

 

http://www.myspace.com/solexmusic

http://www.myspace.com/mybloodyvalentine

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July 30 2009 5 30 /07 /July /2009 15:49
Fantastique Night XXVI – Brussels – 27th June 2009


No Tears, De Volanges, Neon


First up are No Tears, a band I’ve wanted to see for some time. I’d bought their 2008 album, Obsessions based on what I’d heard on Myspace, and it’s proved to be something I come back to on a regular basis. It’s very Cure like – excellent catchy pop with quite a dark mood to it, sung in both French and English, and pleasantly heavy on the synthesizers.


The 5 of them are pretty tight and churn out a very respectable set that’s remarkably close to what’s been recorded. Kristian’s voice is not something you hear every day – it’s really very harsh and bitter, and is made more angular by his distinctive French accent when he’s singing in English. It really works marvellously with the music and the mood they’re wanting to create. And it’s helped by an immaculate vocal technique that’s both precise and powerful.


The slide show in the background changes with the context of the song. They’ve put some excellent videos together for some of their tracks, and are clearly a band that likes to put a great deal of attention into detail.


Unfortunately, as far as the gig went, there was something that wasn’t quite there. Whether it was too clinical and concerned with detail, not loud enough (it wasn’t very loud...), or they just weren’t quite in the right form, I don’t know. Not bad by any means, but not quite the magic I was expecting from the album.


Sorry – No live footage – you’ll have to make do with a video.




Next up are local heroes De Volanges. Or survivors, depending on how you look at it – these guys have been playing on & off for almost 20 years now. And they’re here to launch their new album, Caryatids, on their home turf.


To my great surprise, they open with a track that could have almost been lifted straight off a late 70’s Simple Minds album. Yvan’s bass is really distilled down to what a bass should be – quite repetitive, very aggressive, and really driving the set along. There’s real angst and fury in Renaud’s voice, and that’s matched by his really quite varied guitar playing. It ranges from Killing Joke aggressiveness to brilliant near Chameleon-esque shimmers.


Despite being a trio, I was so captivated by the front 2 that I realised I’d not noticed what the drummer was doing. He’s the new kid, having joined the band just before they started work on the album. It must say a lot about him that he didn’t distract from the front. Though someone did complain afterwards – new drummer doesn’t know the ol stuff yet, so they missed out a lot of their best material.


This is good, old fashioned post-punk cold-wave. All wrapped up into a minimalist package, with a few surprise touches, and executed as well as I’ve ever seen done. Let’s hope the drummer can pick up some of the old favourites over summer – they have 2 dates coming up – 8th of September at Soirées Cerises (with the Parallax View – another great bill that Cherry Fred has put together), and the event of the year in the Franco-Belgian underground-cold-wave scene in Templeneuve on 10th of October – more on that later.

A previous date:





Neon – Headliners from Italy. Did absolutely nothing for me. They were correct, good musicians, great singer, but I found the drummer playing double-time to the drum machine irritating, and too much sequenced stuff dominating the live instruments. Nah – not for me. Fell asleep. And was woken up to No Tears’ Paul Fiction’s excellent DJ set.




http://www.myspace.com/spaceofnotears

http://www.myspace.com/devolanges

http://www.myspace.com/festivalvisiond1autreindustrie

http://www.myspace.com/fantastiquenights

 

 

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July 1 2009 4 01 /07 /July /2009 11:13

For Against, Red Zebra, Perverted by Language

 

Fantastique Nights, Botanique Witloof Bar, 27 October 2008

 

To cut a long story short, For Against released Sunny Side Shade Side at the beginning of 2008. It proved to be an absolute cracker, got some rave reviews, and they embarked on a 2-week tour of Europe in the Fall, covering France, Italy, Germany and the Benelux. Saturday night fortunately coincided with a cancellation at the Fantastique, and we got the opening slot.

 

Fantastique Nights is a quarterly event that’s been happening for about 6 years now. Run on a voluntary/non profit making basis, the objective is to give “underground” bands an opportunity to play to a decent crowd, and give the crowd the opportunity to see bands who can’t normally to get to Belgium. They will usually get 3 bands on, and the opening slot tends to go to a local band. That night, it was Perverted by Language.

 

One thing that is clear is that everyone without exception at Le Fantastique is a complete music nut. Usually with quite a Goth/Post-Punk or Electro flavour. The organisation was excellent. Proper food, and real professional sound engineer.

 

I was on stage for the first part, so no comment there. The crowd was excellent, the bar was very quiet, and we disposed of the best part of 50 CDs, and got some extremely positive feedback afterwards.

 

I’m afraid I spent most of Red Zebra recovering in the bar, and so missed most of their set, but from what I did catch, they did a mixture of original material and a few choice punk/post-punk covers. Very nice guys, and a really pro outfit. I must get to see them again sometime.

 

I was very much looking forward to For Against – I’d been listening to Coalesced for a couple of years, and had recently got hold of the CD re-issues of December and Echelons, and the new album. I love the very simple imagery in the lyrics – Jeff Runnings has a very economical way of putting things, and you get a real feeling that what he’s telling you in just a few words goes way deeper. They’ve been through a number of lineup changes over the years. Original guitarist Harry Dingman rejoined the band in 2007 when Steve Hinrichs moved away from Lincoln, Nebraska, and that’s brought the sound back to a slightly harder edge.

 

Sunny Side Shade Side is a really excellent album, and takes off exactly where 1987’s December left off. Both are compulsory listening, and Coalesced is also excellent, with a slightly more “acoustic” flavour. We got treated to about an hour and a half of material going through the whole catalogue. Opening with Sabres, right from the first bar, I realised we were going to be in for a real treat. Jeff doesn’t have the world’s strongest voice, but suits the music down to a tee. His bass playing is accomplished without distracting from the songs. Harry is an exceptionally creative guitarist. Using a well stocked pedal board, but rarely distortion, his riffs seem simply to swirl through the set with an elegance that is both intimate and eclectic. Somewhere between the twangs of the Chameleons, or the virtuoso effects laden thunder from Kitchen of Distinction.

 

Coalesced was a particular highlight – quite different to the album version. Harry brings a harder edge to it (he later explained he swaps to a 12-string at ‘home’), and the long outro has been somewhat curtailed.

 

I know they’re huge fans of the early Factory Records, and an excellent cover of Section 25’s Friendly Fires features on the new album. If I understand correctly, it was a decision that also prompted a change of drummer. The new kid, Nick Buller, is well up to the job. His timing is immaculate – a particularly important aspect to the For Against way of doing things, as they often use subtle timing changes to speed up sections of the song and build tension. Brilliant drumming, but never getting in the way of the song. And the song is always at the centre of everything they do, with a particular talent for adding the odd touch of genius when it comes round to a bridge, taking the song to a new level (Stranded in Greenland is a particularly good example)

 

Towards the end of the set, Jeff stepped back from the mike and Michael Sordina (from The Names – Factory Benelux’s flagship band) took to the stage, much to the great delight of the crowd and the band, for a cover of Speak my Language. The encore was wrapped up with Shine, from the 1st album – Echelons, and the ubiquitous Autocrat.

 

So in a tried-and-tested clichéd sort of way, I can really only finish this in one way – using Jeff’s own words – so elegant in their simplicity:

 

Yeah that’s right, that’s the way it is.

 

 

www.myspace.com/foragainst

www.myspace.com/redzebra1

www.myspace.com/pervertedbylanguagemusic

www.myspace.com/fantastiquenights

www.lefantastique.net/

www.words-on-music.com/foragainst.html

 

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April 1 2009 4 01 /04 /April /2009 11:24

A Final Sound +  Joy de Vivre

Soirée Cerise – Ixelles – Sunday 29th March 2009

 

A Final Sound

 

I wasn’t allowed out until I’d finished my homework, so I only caught the final 2 minutes of A Final Sound.

 

I did get chance for a chat with a very jovial Jean-Marc in the bar while he was hunting down a beer. I’d been in touch with him quite some time ago when he was looking to set up what became his Csygnus project.

J: What on earth possessed you to set up a tribute to one of the most influential and admired bands in the history of…

JM: Schizophrenia. (He cuts me off with a large grin). I've tried the medicine, and it just doesn’t work, so the only thing that keeps me sane is music and indulging in my split personality disorder by actually being different personalities in different musical projects. That includes being part of Jean-Luc Demeyer’s latest side project, Modern Cubism.

 

He explained that they were jamming Cure songs last year and realised it would be cool to actually go out and play them to a live audience. J-M had been part of a Cure tribute act in London in the late ‘90s – he went over for a week to play with some guys he’d met at a (Cure!) gig in Brussels – they’d just lost their guitarist – and ended up staying for 5 ½ years. It does help that he looks and sounds just like Fat Bob – slightly cuddly with the same hair and make up, and listening to the various Myspace sites, his voice is absolutely spot on.

 

As I mentioned – I missed almost all of the gig, but I did bump into an old mate who is a huge Cure fan.

J: Was it any good?

T: Well, JM didn’t quite seem to grasp the finer points of the emotion of some of the songs, and a bass that wasn’t slung a few centimetres from the floor didn’t really do it for me.

J: Are you glad you came?

T: Oh yes – the first 3 songs were magic, and it would have been worth the trip just to see 100 Years.

That’s coming from a guy who has every Cure album ever released, and has seen them live quite a number of times.

 

A Final Sound are playing at the Pot Au Lait in Liege on 11th April. If you’re a Cure fan, it should be a real treat to hear all your favourite songs in a small venue. If I’m allowed out, I’ll be there.


http://www.myspace.com/afinalsound





Joy de Vivre

 

Joy division tribute band from Limburg. There’s only 3 of them – the guitarist fills the roles of both Ian and Barney.

 

Joy division have been one of my favourite bands for over ¼ of a century. The sheer simplicity and austerity, the darkness of the vocals, the aggressive and omnipresent bass, the driving, mechanical drums, the understated guitar.

 

First thing that’s wrong is the gear. It’s all top quality. You would never have heard Steve’s drums fleshed up with amplification and reverb, there’s no way Barney & Hooky could have afforded a genuine Fender guitar and bass, and the amplification would have been cheap & nasty. That very struggle against less than ideal instruments and amps goes a long way to explaining the feel of Joy Division as a band – 4 young lads from the harsh working class Manchester of the late ‘70s with very no money, no hope, and one hell of an attitude.

 

If you’ve seen Hooky live, you’ll know that he hangs his bass on his balls, handles it like it’s a Kalashnikov, and has a mesmerising stage presence. Bart looks a bit like a spare part. He wears his bass where there’s no hint danger of danger of it smashing into the audience and instead of a pick (shock horror!) he uses… his fingers! To make matters worse, he’s not playing the parts right. Adding notes at times, missing them out at others, and on Love Will Tears Us Apart, doesn’t even play the main theme!

 

The drumming isn’t quite right either though it’s hard to explain exactly what’s wrong with it. Maybe it’s not quite tight and repetitive enough; maybe it’s just a decent, modern sound that’s just not authentic. Steve hits things like he's possessed by a compulsion disorder. This guy seems to be enjoying himself.

 

Guido on everything else does a remarkably good job of the vocals – he genuinely does sound quite like Ian Curtis, and his delivery is pretty good (could have been a bit louder in the mix though). However is guitar playing is far too accomplished, and that doesn’t work for me. The whole point of Barney is that he seems self conscious and unassured, almost as it he needn't be there at all. I don’t quite buy the announcement of every other song and the rather long pauses in-between either.

 

When we get to Atmosphere, Guido switches to keyboards and things improve quite dramatically. Rather more authentically, this is an instrument he doesn't seem to master very well. He’s playing one of the parts wrong (as I would have expected Barney to do), and despite the modern synth, the sound is suitably verging towards the cheesy. Closing my eyes, I can almost believe it.

 

Unusually, the police have made an appearance la Flute Enchantée and have - err - requested an end to proceedings at 23:00, so we are treated (if that’s the appropriate word) to one final song. Shadowplay features a guest vocalist. This guy must have been a genuine punk in the late 70’s, and while he has certainly grown older, he hasn’t grown up. Shouting the words into a mike, both out of tune and out of time whilst pogoing like a randy squirrel on speed is not an appropriate treatment of a Joy Division masterpiece. In fact, it is unequivocally bloody awful.

 

Mercifully, it’s time to retire to the bar.


 

Tribute or not tribute?

 

Don’t get me wrong about Joy de Vivre – they are decent musicians, but when I go to see a “tribute” band, I expect to see pretty much an incarnation of the real thing. Joy division without a proper Hooky does not work for me, and the rest of the attention to detail was missing. The personalities just weren't there. The Cure however has always revolved around Robert Smith, and if you get that right, which by all accounts Jean-Marc seems to have done, then you get to see something very close to the real thing in the sort of venue that the real thing haven’t been able to play in for over ¼ of a century.

 

One of the problems is that you’re almost invariably going to be playing in front of a number of hard-core fans who know the repertoire and know what they expect almost as well as you do. That’s one hell of a tough audience to impress. And that means it's not enough just to play covers - you have to become the band.

 

So what makes for a good tribute band?

 

I think we should leave the last word to Jean-Marc, as he put it so eloquently: Schizophrenia.

Links:

A Final Sound

Joy de Vivre

Csygnus

Soirée Cerise

Pot Au Lait


J

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March 13 2009 6 13 /03 /March /2009 11:48

Garner

News Café, Ixelles

12th March 2009



Tonight’s trip into the vaults of the Brussels rock scene is courtesy of Garner. Or to give them their full name in glorious Technicolor, The Garner Bought Drums Project. The News Café is not exactly heaving. The owner later apologised for having screwed up and having booked them on the same night as a major ULB party. But there’s still a hardcore of familiar faces, and the beer is cold and wet.

 

“This is a song about Garner. Garner is dead.” Announces Nico 3 songs into the set. Oh dear! Garner by all accounts seems to be a twisted soul, who failed to die successfully, and is tortured by pathos and the inevitability of destiny. The tone is pretty much set from the start with “Behind the Curtain”, behind which Garner hides his ego, “Lost in Confusion” which is about… Garner being lost and confused. The lyrical content of the songs is most certainly helped by Nico’s vocal delivery – the diction, enunciation and stresses are immaculate, and while he retains a hint of a mid-Atlantic Franco-American accent, this only adds to the character of the vocals. And there’s plenty of character there – a very dry, brusque, almost spoken style and vocal gymnastics that reminded of Jimmy Page at times.

 

Bretton exile Nico Rambaud is the brains behind Garner. He writes all the songs, all the parts, from the vocals down to the drum patterns. That doesn’t take credit away from the other musicians by any means – Didier Fontaine has a hugely impressive musical CV. He delivers the complex breaks and rhythm changes with awesome skill and dynamism, and real sensitivity when needed. Laurent Stelleman is better known as guitarist for Monsoon, but he’s also a phenomenally good bass player with a graduate in Jazz and light music. Not that there’s anything “light” about tonight. It’s a mark of just what a talented musician Nico is that these guys want to play with him. This is more than what they do for a living – this is what they live to do.

 

Musically, we are treated to a sort of hard jazz & funk tinged rock, not that dissimilar from Steve Albini’s band Shellac. Influences are also betrayed by a Prince and a Hendrix cover, but rather appropriately, neither “The Cross” nor “Manic Depression” stray from the overall theme.

 

If you’re tempted to go and see Garner, and if you’re a musician in a rock band, I highly recommend that you do, as it’s a real masterclass in delivering a great live rock performance, start with the myspace site. Listen to the songs, watch the video, get an idea and a feel for Garner’s little world – you’ll get more out of the gig. Even if you’re not really into the music, they’re well worth seeing at least once.


This wouldn't be complete without a mention of Nico's detailed and precise guitar work, culminating towards the end of the set in a magnificent clean and quiet guitar solo where you could literally hear a pin drop.


I think for a future article, we might just try and coax Garner onto the couch for a psychoanalysis session.

 

Next gig I see is Saturday 21st March 2009 at the Murmure, just behind Place Flagey. If I’m allowed out, I’ll be there.

 

www.myspace.com/gbdproject




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March 12 2009 5 12 /03 /March /2009 11:42

Cinderella's Big Score

Soirée Cerise, Théatre de la Flute Enchantée, Ixelles

25th January 2009



First gig in quite a while for Cinderella's Big Score. Jurgen (vocals, guitar), Valerie (drums, vocals), Bavo (bass) et Tom (lead guitar) have made the long journey from deepest Flanders (Mechelen) to present a few tracks from their new album, "Safety Belts in a Wicked World" to the crowd at Soirée Cerise.

 

Jurgen sounds a bit shaky to start with. It might be nerves or just a bit of rust. By the time they get to the 3rd song, Mindblow, they've warmed up and are starting to hit full flow.

 

Bavo’s bass lines are simple and effective, adding texture to the quieter numbers and thundering along wherever necessary. Tom’s understated Telecaster work ranges from creating delicate soundscapes, to bursts of shear raw energy, interrupted by the most beautiful melodic licks. But neither of them distracts us from what this band is really all about – great songs.

 

Valerie is truly masterful on the drums. Her formal posture and immaculate timing give us the impression of a school teacher in total control of a bunch of otherwise unruly kids. Dedicated to keeping the class in proper order and helping them to develop to their full potential without putting a hair out of place. She has a very real and unique stage presence.

 

Jurgen has warmed up by now. His Stratocaster adds texture and depth to the work, but is merely a servant to the needs of the song. “Magic Van is about a tourbus”. “Miles and miles to travel – don’t know where we’re going”. Nor do we, but by now we’re all enjoying the journey. And as we go along, the ride’s only getting better.

 

A subtle video with old images of moon walking and rocket tests intersparced with a few carefully chosen lyrics adorns the back wall, not that we’re taking much notice of it – that’s not where the action is.

 

“This one is called Wish – you’ll find a video on Youtube and our Myspace site” says Jurgen. Gentle chimes of guitars. “Come, lay your head by my side, worried girl; Step into the light, make a wish, let it swirl”. Valerie’s gentle voice sparks up in the background. And the tempo speeds up. And the noise rises. And we’re off on a journey of noise and swirls into the wish and the worries, only to come back down to earth again with the confidence and reassurance of putting your head on a loved one’s shoulder.

 

We were also treated to Sonic Radar, White Velvet, Johnny Towns, 7 Wonders, the awesome Tangerine, and more. It’s getting late. Time to go home. No way says the crowd. No way says Fred la Cerise. We want more. And off we go again. Jurgen by now bouncing around La Flute Enchantée like a punk on a pogostick, Valerie shooting out bursts of energy in the drums. It’s on the set-list as “nieuw”, so despite having known each other for 12 years, there’s still plenty of good tunes yet to come.

 

This is one very tight, very refined, very intense rock band, but at no point in the proceeding are you left in any doubt as to who the star is – it’s the songs.

 

Fortunately, we’re going to be seeing more of CBS – someone from the D.N.A. was discussing a date with them on the way out, and that’s now been confirmed for the 16th of April.


Don't miss it!


www.myspace.com/thebandcinderellasbigscore



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March 11 2009 4 11 /03 /March /2009 12:41

Pixel Race & Alkalys

Soirée Cerises – Ixelles – 8th March 2009

 

Can’t see the amps for the beards!

 



Alkalys:

 

Oops – Late as usual and Alkalys are already in full flow. They’re a 4-piece from Le Havre in France and are on a DIY 12-date tour of Northern France and the Benelux, supporting the release of their 2nd album, "Coeur Delys". First think that strikes me is the number of amps on stage – the Flute Enchantée has plenty of room, but for once, the stage looks rather crowded.

 

Weird! Not quite sure what to make of this forest of Post-Rock noise at first. There’s little communication with the audience. One bass player with his back turned to us, the other one concealed behind the guitarist, who while he is facing us, is clearly more interested in his shoeless feet and whiter-than-white socks.

 

Jimmy’s solid, hard, aggressive, almost metallic bass rages through most of the set, while drummer Spleet (who is a perfect likeness for Animal from the Muppets) leads the frenzy from the back. As the lone guitarist, Max is providing loops and texture, and looks almost out of place, as he’s the only one of the 4 not sporting a wild bush of hair and beard. Meanwhile, Ben, carefully hidden at the back has stuck a screwdriver in his bass and is grinding away at it with what looks like a home-made bow and a drumstick. At one stage, even Spleet left the drums, turned his back to us, and picked up a bass and a bow.

 

The music is experimental. It's about layers, journeys, emotions, challenging preconceptions. Like Stockhausen or Glass, you do not "just" listen to it like you listen to throw-away pop - you need to experience it, feel it, become one with it. You need to let yourself be swept away with the flow. Fighting it is futile. It doesn't matter who it soundlike or who's done this sort of thing before. If you have to ask yourself that, you'd be missing the point.


Alkalys is a band that pushes the limits. Not just of what you should be doing with the instruments, but also of what the audience ought to be experiencing. It took me quite a while to understand what was happening on stage, just to eventually realise that there was nothing to understand. Just relax, sink into the music, and reach an almost trance like state.

 

I’m on the first listen of the album as I write this. This is music for meditation. Alkalys are not there to entertain. They’re here to clean your soul.

http://www.myspace.com/alkalys

 



 

Pixel Race:

 

Off for a beer, and back into the theatre to see the amps have moved a bit to fit even more gear on stage. Same beard set-up - 3 long, 1 short, but that’s just about where comparisons stop.

 

I’ve heard good things about Pixel Race. I’d bumped into Eric a while back, we’ve known Jessica for a while, and I’ve had some very positive reports from the lads who’ve already seen them.

 

Most of the songs have some element of sequenced synths to them coming from a laptop in the corner, so the Nicolas the drummer is playing along to a click. Not that it lacks spontaneity. Eric’s solid rhythmic guitar seems to have its origins somewhere in the realms of metal, but he’s quite open to launching into a synth solo every now and again. Jessica’s discrete riffs intertwine with Olivier’s masterful bass.

 

The band have great fun on stage. This really comes across. The songs are bright, uplifting, fast paced and very well written and structured. As you’d expect from a band where the majority of the members spend most of their time making other people’s music sound good, the orchestration and attention to detail is immaculate.

 

Eric is clearly in charge of operations, and Kevin seems to be at a slight loss for what to talk to the audience about between the songs. They’re used to playing festivals, and I suspect they’re not quite used to really being as close to the audience as you get at La Flute Enchantée. That’s somewhat reflected in their set – fairly short and very high octane. I’d have liked to see something a bit slower that maybe allows Kevin to show off his soulful voice.

 

Kevin has a great voice and great technique. His vocal delivery is really excellent. It’s a shame the sound isn’t quite right – Eric’s guitar is a bit on the loud side, and Kevin’s not really up-front enough to really be able to understand what he’s singing about, particularly in the lower ranges. And it’s a shame that the backing vocals are not really audible. But then the Flute is not the easiest place to get a good sound balance, despite the bands credentials.

 

Again, festival-ish set, so they’ve not got anything else up their sleeves for an encore. Wait! Yes they do! An entirely acapella rendition of Blown Away.

 

This is fun. Easy catchy tunes, a polished delivery, fronted by a young singer with a solid voice and immaculate English. Closer to McFly than Metallica. I don’t think they’ve consciously tried to breach that gap between Pop and Rock, but that’s what they are succeeding at. Knowing the local Brussels scene, they’ll be the derision of quite a few critics because of it. But if they manage to keep going and expand on what they’ve got, there’s a good chance that my kids will want Kevin posters on the wall and a guitar like Jess’s.


http://www.myspace.com/pixelrace





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