Monday, February 21, 2011

Concert review: Lysn in HBC, Berlin - 19 Feb. 2011

Lysn is a electro-acoustic impro act created and fronted by trombonist/electronicist Hilary Jeffery,  with guitarist/vocalist/electronicist Marc Weiser, trumpetist Franz Hautzinger and drummer/pianist Steve Heather - all four familiar to European impro scene followers.

I quite enjoyed Lysn music and after having a look at their website I understand why: their project meet many of my current concerns about music - psychedelism, drones, trance -, and many of their references are also mine - a.o. Gong, Angelo Badalamenti, Can, Public Image Ltd, the Velvet Underground... The flesh of the music is provided by heavily effected trombone and trumpet building solid layers of rich and complex brass sounds, combining bright drones and shorts hypnotic loops. Jeffery completes his trombone with a gizmo box (the whole thing he calls the 'tromboscillator') that allows him to reach extremely low notes; he often settles the pieces on three slowly looped notes, simple and solid harmonies on which his colleagues can go wild.

Weiser's voice work - filtered by a Kaos Pad - ranges from Pink Floydian etheral voice to clownish hectic  speeches, and his guitar provides rhythmic patterns and noises; Heather is apparently not a regular player of the band but his contribution was highly appreciated, either with minimal piano harmonies or hit-hat/shakers tiny rhythms - seems to be an adept of limited instrumentation, I appreciate that.

Again, I didn't think of bringing a camera, reviewing concerts in a new trend on this blog that I start to enjoy - gotta do it seriously...

12:56 AM

Friday, February 18, 2011

more sketches

Thursday, February 10, 2011

strat based sketches

A couple of weeks ago Kenray proposed me to design guitars to be cut out of a strat body - I took the challenge and here they are. I printed strat blueprints in light grey to be sure it would be accurate and drew from them, but didn't stick to the pickup/electronics routing - too constraining.

It was not so fun as I thought, because strats are extremely well balanced (this I have to acknowledge this, though I really don't like strats) and reshaping them is just about cosmetics, where I'm mostly busy with ergonomics, even if it's not always obvious in my drawings. 

While drawing I often reached designs typical of 60s Japanese guitars like Teiscos, and it felt like it's exactly how they proceeded at the time... And I also easily obtained Paul Stanley style guitars, that is embarrassing but not new - I wish he would have chosen between KISS and guitar design, because his guitars are spoiled by bad taste finishes and who wants a guitar conceived by a clown? 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

concert review: KTL in Festsaal Kreutzberg, Berlin

Yesterday I saw  KTL, the project of Stephen O'Malley from Sunn O))) - on guitar - and Peter Rehberg from Mego - on electronics (I didn't think of taking my camera so I have no picture, anyway the stage was very dark and full of smoke so there wasn't much to shoot). 

KTL plays the expected but enjoyable drone/doom characteristic of Sunn O))) and to be honest the electronics in it doesn't add much to the genre. Thought its sharpness, amplitude and aggressiveness, Rehberg's sound lacks the richness of O'Malley's guitar and after a while it falls on the wrong side of minimalism, becoming almost tedious (and I don't have a pro-guitar bias, I enjoy and play electronic music as much as guitar one; I actually witnessed something similar with a guitar duo gathering Keiji Haino and JF Pauvros, where Pauvros was completely overwhelmed by his partner - after a while you couldn't even hear him at all but it was better like this).

KTL played two long pieces, the first one a two notes drone song, beautiful and intense. O'Malley played with an e-bow and most variations came from imprecisions and accidents - e-bow playing is very difficult to master - and I always enjoyed this approach to experimental music. As I noticed in my Altar review, it sounded quite like heavily distorted 4AD, let's say it felt like the crossing of Dead Can Dance and Popol Vuh played in a sawmill, the soundtrack of a 2099 Werner Herzog/Klaus Kinsky movie we'll never see. Quite tripping indeed.

The second piece was less interesting, based on a super slow and heavy doom riff by O'Malley, sometimes evolving in seemingly improvised bridges, with Rehberg making some noise on top. It feels that the complete sonic chaos I enjoy so much in Japanese ultra-noise doesn't work for drone/doom sound and prevents the expansion of complex frequencies that makes it so special. The lack of inspiration was quickly blatant; with such intense music it is counterproductive to play a one hour set as expected in a rock concert - even if you pay the same price... 

And now a little bit of guitkism, O'Malley played his trademark Travis Bean TB1000S down-tuned probably in A (though it's not a baritone scale), plugged I assume in Sunn model-Ts but the amps on stage didn't bare a logo, but one big Fender. Most of the pedals on his pedal board are unidentifiable - customs or DIY in alu boxes covered with tape - but a ProCo Rat and I think a Blue Beard. There was also a lot of reverb and echo, and the sound is so low that I thought he used an octaver - though it's never mentioned in his rings descriptions.

And in echo to my previous concert review, I must add that unfortunately this year again I won't see PJ Harvey on stage, the next concert is not sold-out this time, just unaffordable. For 60€, I'd rather go to the opera - it seems that now live pop music is an upper-class recreational activity.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Gretsch inspired headstock

A couple of days ago co-blogger David from Barcelona posted on Guitarz about a beautiful 1947 Gretsch Electromatic and its peculiar headstock (that you can see on the right).

I've never seen anything like this before, and it's quite inspiring, so I've drawn here my own version of it - a little bit more ergonomic in my opinion... I like the idea of combining a paddle headstock with tuners aligned with the strings!

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