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February 18th, 2009
Mariam Wallentin and Andreas Werliin are husband and wife. They have been married for three years and they are natives of Sweden. They make music together. On stage, Andreas is a quiet man who speaks with his hands through his percussion. His wife is a contrast- using her vocals and movements to communicate love, joy, and pain in a fusion of words and pitches. I am watching the duo play their first proper Los Angeles show. We are in Amoeba Records, a unique backdrop to the musical eccentricity and diversity of the pairs' performance. Not until a few songs into their set do I realize the perfect description that is their name- Wildbirds & Peacedrums.
Imaginative and original, the duo's chemistry is layered with different musical facets. Mariam's voice begins a few songs acapella, commanding the attention of cell phones and eyebrows within Amoeba. Her singing is like a call to the wild, a tempestuous call and response to the audience, to the animals, and to her husband. I hear the stomach growl of the grizzly bearded man next to me with the jack in box. His inner animal is responding as well.
Onstage, Andreas is perched at his drums like an owl in the night. Clicking and tapping the bare bones of the beat before breaking the quiet space with contact on the skin. His style is a whisper of intensity, a soft storm. He is living in the most dangerous area as a drummer, the area where the most impact musically will be softest noise made amongst the skins. His wife begins to build up her scats to a loud roar, and picks up a pair of sticks to beat out the tribal rhythms with her husband. The beats build as Mariam is singing, but her vocals soon fade as Andrea's dips into a uncultivated solo, a style that is part Jazz and part Swing, staying in the lines while spearing a feeling of spontaneity. I am the Puma. I am the Cheetah. He is the rhythm and she is the beat. She is the rhythm and he is the beat.
Wild Birds are calling and Peace Drums are responding. Peace Drums respond with cowbells, green wazoo's, sticks, and leather. Wild Birds call with the pulse of the tambourines, pucks and twangs of the Zither, and an echoed mask of musical breath. At times they are your baby brother, who wont stop banging and beating on every pot and pan. Other times they are your little sister, who won't stop singing and will never shut up when you ask. But both are grown up now, beating and singing away until the animals come home. At times all seems orchestrated while at other points an improved piece made up on the spot. Regardless, the chemistry is natural and organic, full of songs and rhythms that are unrefined and attentive. With no keys or bass, synth or serato, it's a very unprocessed set-up within this experience, which forces you to heighten your senses and listen outside the box, and allow your natural instincts to be kicked in and re-invented for the entire thirty minutes. With an edgy sound and a comforting form, it's no wonder the husband and wife named their album, HeartCore.
January 22nd, 2009
It was the third concert of their month-long concert series, and I was especially curious about what the night would entail. First a punk rock legend, then a 9-piece Jazz-Psych fusion band, what was the Silent Movie Theatre going to try next? Thavius Beck was DJ-ing "ghettotech" to the 1929 film, The Man with the Movie Camera. The atmosphere was especially chill and laid back at the Silent Movie Theatre last night. Hanging out in the theatre, watching the musician set up, I could only think: I want Thavius Beck's hair. It's afro-tastic. And if that's not a word, then I'm going to make it one.
Hair musings aside, Thavius Beck gave us an especially cutting edge show. His mixing software was still in demo form. Who is this guy? DJ, sometimes producer, he told the audience he's done "a little bit of everything." He's collaborated with everyone from Nas to Nine Inch Nails. But his introductions are brief and modest, tonight is all about the music.
I've seen a lot of DJ's perform with visuals, but I've never seen a DJ perform to the visuals themselves. Do you ever feel like a lot of musicians just slap together some images for cool factor alone? It was pretty refreshing to actually see someone aware of what was on the big screen for once. And Thavius was having fun with it, too. "The Man with the Movie Camera" is a playful silent movie with lots of camera tricks (like a man made to look like he's climbing out of a glass of beer) and images of city dwellers at their day-to-day life. It's a distinctly Soviet movie, with lots of Communist workers (and a LOT of bad teeth).
Thavius Beck's quick and witty samples made some moments truly fantastic. He chose an elegant piano track to slow motioned athletes high jumping, slow ambient echoes for seashore images, and haunting Middle-Eastern clarinets for a particularly dramatic factory scene. In fact, a LOT of the film focuses on the many wonders of the industrial age. Thavius was often working to scenes fast paced cigarette-machines, steam pumps, telephone switch boards, and more. I couldn't help but think to myself: "This brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘industrial music.'"
Despite a few technical problems with the sound levels, Thavius Beck put on a great, almost-hypnotizing show. I am really starting to love the Silent Movie Theatre's mix of film and live music. It's a completely unique kind of concert experience and works for so many different genres. Here on out, I'm going to keep my eyes open for more of these.
January 8th, 2009
I was in a pretty bad mood last night. My lame friends had flaked on me and I was awkward and alone outside of the Silent Movie Theatre. And it was cold too. Despite this, the excitement of the other waiting concertgoers was infectious. Jimmy Rip and Tom Verlaine were going to be playing live with experimental silent films. Neat right? But wait, music at a movie theater? Wha?
The Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax arranged this badass evening. Despite their name, they play a lot of artsy and cult movies. Everything from anime to exploitation flicks. Inside, the walls are covered with old school silver screen stars. The main theatre is cozy and comfortable, they even have pillows and couches in the front. It was a weird setting for a music concert, but a really cool setup. Basically, the theatre plays a collection of rare experimental silent films while Verlaine and Rip performed along with their own original scores.
Verlaine and Rip are not only amazingly talented musicians, they've been around for quite sometime. Rip is a producer/guitarist who's worked with everyone from Debbie Harry to Mick Jagger. Verlaine, of course, also has a very impressive history, first starting as the front man for the legendary punk band Television, he's been performing solo for almost thirty years. Young and old, he's got a strong following. The Silent Movie Theatre was very, very sold out.
With just a few casual waves to the audience, Verlaine put the punk showmanship on the back burner. Instead, he and Rip put all energy into their music and the images on screen. The duo have been performing to these films about a dozen times in the last 10 years and you can tell that they are masters of their craft. Not just mere instrumental work, these guys made their axes sound like a seagulls caw or a motorcycle engine depending on the image.
On one hand it was a throwback to older times, on the other it was pretty badass. There was something engaging about their live, moody scores. The films themselves ranged from stereotypically artsy (French phrases saying, "You do not dream. It is a flower made of fire.") to slapstick. The opening to "The Fall of the House of Usher" caused a collective "Ooooh" out of the audience followed by string sliding and creepy plucking. "The Life and Death of 9413, a Hollywood Extra" could go from ridiculous to tragic at the whim of a note. And the hands down best was "Ballet Mecanique." It was a rock-out grand finale of shapes, trains, and dueling guitars.
Despite me being all by lonesome, it was a worthy experience. Punk legends making live music to artsy silent films. I was especially excited to hear that this evening was part of a month-long series. Every Wednesday night in January the Silent Movie Theatre is having live musicians perform with experimental movies. My flakey friends missed out on Tom Verlaine, but I didnt!
November 19th, 2008
Ok. Very fired up. Its not everyday Kraak & Smaak hit you up and say, please sit down with us. Ok, so maybe it was someone on their "team," but seriously who cares, its Kraak & Smaak.
So I drop in the copy of the new album, "Plastic People," the latest album that has them doing promotions in the United States for a few shows and I just let the album take me where it is supposed to take me. Kraak & Smaak in town for a bunch of promotions including the Jimmy Kimmel Show, decided to have a sit down with Loudvine.com(INTERVIEW HERE)
Kraak & Smaak have been around for a while, they have a sweet discography that includes "Boogie Angst" and now the dynamic Kraak & Smaak has dropped "Plastic People" for all of us to relish in. Kraak & Smaak continues to grow up with a fiercer sound. Building off the karma that comes along with playing across the world to large crowds, Kraak & Smaak have built up postivity by simply giving people what they need, good and inspired live sets. When you factor in all those experiences, combine it with an amazing collection of korgs, rhodes and mix it in with being able to digg from one of the worlds sickest vinyl collection to sample from, Kraak & Smaak on "Plastic People" continue to make music that shows they are growing, not staying static, and striving to take the next step in their own musical evolution. And we are better off because of it.
This latest album has eclectic, wide ranging sounds, from some eastern infused beats to more pop-ish sounds. "Plastic People" is still lined up with the funky bass lines that Kraak & Smaak are known for bumping loudly. "Plastic People" will run through you like good music is expected to, causing you to experience a wonderful hour of sounds that makes you wish you were on some dancefloor watching Kraak & Smaak spin live for you and a few of your closest thousands of friends. There is a communal feel that will connect, that feeling of wanting to share this music with others, throughout this album. You can feel it, from the title track "Plastic People, " to "Ain't Gonna Take it No More" to "Squeeze Me."
The need to connect, "stripped down," to its very core, allows Kraak & Smaak to connect their sound with people all over the world. Kraak & Smaak make music for the people. You hear their distinctive tones on this album that will inspire you to finish your late nights with "Plastic People" still playing over and over again. "Plastic People" shows you that Kraak & Smaak, continue to grow make fun, funk, and captivating music that will still resonate in your entire being long after you have turned it off. "Plastic People" shows they have matured and their sound, as it always has been is ready for the US and beyond on an even bigger scale.
With a sound that now borders on sexier, heavier lounge, Kraak & Smaak tackles "Plastic People" with the same deep, probing bass and vocals and samples that continue to set Kraak & Smaak apart from others. They are true to form, making organic and good music and will guaranteedto get any party and dance floor moving. Music is supposed to uplift us. Take us away, create a fun, happy place to take us to. The album "Plastic People" does all these things. I can only imagine what their set @ the Henry Ford Music box on Friday, November 21st will be like.
We are lucky to have them in Los Angeles as they make their way up the pacific west coast to San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and so many other great cities. I know they will leave the audience seeking that legendary Kraak & Smaak sound that makes you want to just forget everything else and let the music take hold of you.
August 28th, 2008
As received in my inbox this am. Good Blog by Lefsetz
Isn't this how the labels got in trouble to begin with? By making customers buy an entire, overpriced CD to get the single, the only track they wanted, oftentimes the only good track on the album?
Pulling acts from iTunes is akin to winning the pennant but refusing to play in the World Series because the TV network and its advertisers would be unjustly enriched. Like being the world champion but not going to the Olympics because these same entities would profit and China's image would be burnished at the athlete's expense. Is that what we're going to see next? Michael Phelps suing China for a percentage of its gross national product? Since he focused the world's eyes upon the country?
iTunes was not launched as the definitive future of music acquisition but as an alternative to theft. Pulling music from iTunes just incentivizes people to steal, to learn new techniques for stealing. At the height of the original Napster grandmothers were downloading. The key is to develop a reasonable alternative that makes stealing not worth it. Raising the price is not a solution.
That's what labels want to do, raise prices at the iTunes Store. Why not tell that to GM! Ford and Chrysler too! Why don't we raise the price for SUVs! Make more on each one! Eureka, that's the solution! But at least most drivers only need and purchase one automobile. Whereas we're now in the golden age of music acquisition. Kids who might not have owned any music in decades past now possess thousands of cuts. And believe me, they didn't pay a buck for each. And this is good, the more people music own, the more enriched their lives are. Furthermore, the greater benefit to the acts' whose tracks have been stolen. File-trading kept Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and AC/DC alive. How else would kids have heard this music? And now AC/DC are going to go on the road and sell every single ticket. This wouldn't have happened without the easy, in this case free, acquisition of music online.
And unlike the Eagles, AC/DC is not a geriatric act. Kids like AC/DC. To keep them off the iTunes Store is an insult to the band's fanbase. Like forcing you to go to a liquor store to buy Coke, refusing to sell it in the supermarket. The Eagles may have sold millions of albums, but in the consciousness of America, their latest double album, "Long Road Out Of Eden", is an incredible stiff. It had zero cultural impact. Are you only interested in short term money? Not the act's good will, career and legacy? Then make a deal with one retailer with a guaranteed payment. You're on a direct train to the graveyard.
The Eagles are unique. No one expected a new album and the band didn't need it, they're coasting on their hits, they can tour until they die. But what if you still have an active career? What if you need your music in the public consciousness? What if you are still building? To keep your music off the Internet is like writing a novel and refusing to publish it. Believe me, kids barely know what a CD is, and they don't want to go to a store to purchase it. Shit, I do my best to never go into a retail store, it's easier to shop online, where inventory is plentiful and one can easily find the lowest price and delivery is straight to your door.
As for delivering CDs via the Internet... That's like selling typewriter ribbons via the Net. Like delivering dot matrix printer ribbons. Why online would we want anything but files?
As for making users buy the complete album, a la Amazon... This just ends up frustrating the user base, causing revolt. The RIAA/major labels are hated by the average consumer, kids know artists get shitty royalty rates, and this is because of the backlash against overpriced CDs with only one good track and the useless anti-piracy scheme known as suing file traders.
Kid Rock is a career artist who is seen as an album artist. He happens to have the single of the summer. This is driving CD sales. How often is this formula replicable? If we're lucky, we've got one single of the summer, and it usually can't be predicted in advance. And oftentimes, it's by a one hit wonder. And, outside of the U.S., Kid Rock's music is available on iTunes...
And then we've got the strange case of the Rolling Stones. They sold essentially double the online singles of Pink Floyd and the Eagles, but only half the albums. Could it be that the consumer is smart? And knows that whereas Pink Floyd is the quintessential album act, with the Stones it's now about the singles? Maybe you've got to buy "Beggars Banquet", then again, when was the last time the Stones played "Parachute Woman" in concert? In other words, if you want the customer to buy complete albums, you've got to make better albums!
I'd say it's best if music labels stopped trying to scam their way to profits. Yes, it's not the consumer who's underhanded so much as the sellers. They're looking for endless ways to rip off their customers instead of producing music so desirable that it sells itself.
August 25th, 2008
We need a few LA Bands and want to put together a great show
Please pass this along to anyone you think might be interested
August 19th, 2008
Join us for a night of Great Music at The Echoplex on Friday August 22nd. Trust us when we say that you will want to see these bands perform. Lineup includes:
Mia Doi Todd