Friday, April 10, 2009

Bruxelles Sonic 2009 @ la Maison des métallos, Paris

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Bruxelles Sonic 2009 was billed as a night celebrating the Belgian electronique and Post-Rock music scene.

We arrived at la Maison des métallos early enough to wander around listening to the "environment sonore" created by Jerome Deuson, which was on a constant loop for the entire evening, and to wander around the various spaces of the venue.

The event proper began with The Aktivistv and Natalia De Mello, an audiovisual performance par excellence. The stage was completely darkened and an off key banjo/guitar sample skewed and slewed through the darkened room. A light clicked on a desk, and in turn on the screen behind the stage, and we were introduced to the audiovisual component of the set.

Natalia De Mello and The Activist @ la Maison des métallos

In real-time (apart from some minutes of pre-recorded video) Natalia De Mello manipulated her collection of items on the table including magnets and metal objects, compact discs, pen and paper to create stunning images which were projected onto the screen behind them. The accompanying soundscape was an interesting blend of organic samples and subtle electronica and the music and visuals worked very well together.

It was a mesmerising experience, childlike yet evocative. Undoubtedly the highlight of the evening. Bravo!

Next up was Christophe Bailleau who played a very dance-based set slightly reminiscent of Fuck Buttons but without being quite so manic and without their groovy old suitcase of toys.

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With a DVD of his own images playing on the screen behind him, Christophe worked with a repeated layer of techno beat over which he manipulated sounds from what appeared to be an ipod, and something which sounded like a theremin, messing with the frequencies and throwing in additional sampled sounds to augment the underlying dance beat. Great fun even if no one in the audience was dancing.

The last band for the evening were aMute, which I expected to be the post-rock segment of the evening, as the first two acts fell firmly into the electronic genre. But the band leant more towards bland euro-indie and nowhere near post-rock, with no instrumental tracks. Their sound also didn't really suit the first two performances.

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They also seemed to have sound troubles, with lots of feedback early in the set which never helps. But some were their own problems, such as not switching on the effect manipulating the vocals. If you're gonna have a lot of toys you need to know how to use them guys. It was kind of distracting.

So sadly it really wasn't my thing, a little bit psychadelic, a little bit melodramatic, and there seemed to be some wierd dynamics between the band members. The set included some nice guitar work, a great drummer, but a little too much posturing without the substance to back it. Although they can obviously play, I'm use to Aussie bands who, when they rock out, they really kick some ass. But aMute are apparently very sucessful, so kudos to them.

For me, the night belonged to The Aktivistv and Natalia De Mello.

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