Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

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February 2019

LIVE REVIEW: Aïsha Devi, Alice, 08.02.2019

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Aïsha Devi live at Alice Copenhagen

Although some might have first heard of Swiss-Nepalese producer Aïsha Devi because of the trippy video to 2015’s “Mazdâ”, for most of us it has been the buzz surrounding last year’s DNA Feelings that has propelled her to the attention of the world outside of experimental electronics.

Aïsha Devi live at Alice Copenhagen

Relying on relatively sparse and cold synth backgrounds and her own slightly eery, high-pitched vocals, Aïsha Devi’s music has many of the qualities of artists who have broken through into much wider recognition, particularly Arca. But it remains to be see whether the kitschy approach to spirituality that is on display in her visuals will be ultimately seen as a calling card or a gimmick.

Aïsha Devi live at Alice Copenhagen

One thing that’s certain in a live setting is that Devi’s music has a much louder, confrontational quality than what you’ll hear in her recordings. Paradoxically though, her own stage persona, as testified in the pictures above, is completely joyful.

Aïsha Devi live at Alice Copenhagen

This evening at Alice she is joined by the US-based DJ bod [包家巷], whose angry reaction to the lack of dancing at 9pm is made all the more hilarious by the ambient music that follows the initial trap tracks. Concluding the evening are local boys, inexplicably-named Age Coin.

LIVE REVIEW: Alasdair Roberts + Völvur, Alice, 09.02.2019

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Alasdair Roberts and Völvur live at Christianshavn Beboerhus in Copenhagen

Scottish folk singer Alasdair Roberts has been recording music for two decades now. A quick look at his back-catalogue proves Roberts’s dedication to the traditions of British folk music (his takes on “A Lyke Wake Dirge”, “Lord Ronald” and Shirley Collins’s ” A Blacksmith Courted Me” are all well worth a listen), but it also reveals his willingness to use collaboration as a way of repurposing this material.

Most of these collaborations so far have been with one or two people, the most recent being last year’s much-acclaimed What News, alongside producer Amble Skuse and pianist David McGuiness. But tonight, in the cozy surroundings of Christianshavns Beboerhus, Roberts is joined by five Norwegian improvisational musicians, headed by violinist Hans Kjorstad.

Although all very young, this group has a respectable pedigree of its own in Norway, playing in a frankly intimidating number of ensembles and collaborations in everything from folk to noise music. Tonight they are bringing strings, clarinets, guitars, a double bass, electronics and a lot of percussion to Roberts’s typically more sparse music.

The result can be at times incredibly warm and lush, especially the woodwinds on “Wormwood and Gall”, and at others, for example “A Lyke Wake Dirge”, darkly hypnotic. Alasdair Roberts’s simple but beguiling vocal delivery cuts through the instrumentation and makes sure we remain grounded in the words of the songs.

Due to the cancellation on the part of the opening act, the band agree to play two sets, much to the delight of the audience lazing on mats strewn around the theatre floor. Although most of both sets is taken from Roberts’s own catalogue, we are also treated to a new composition by the entire group, “Actors”, as well as covers from the Incredible String Band’s “My Name is Death” and “Chinese White”.

The final flourish is a solo vocal rendition of a Robert Burns song, a final farewell before Alasdair and the band conclude their short Scandinavian tour on the island of Fanø.

LIVE REVIEW: BC Camplight, Loppen, 03.02.2019

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BC Camplight live at Loppen Copenhagen

“It only took us about 20 hours to get here, so we’re not leaving until the cops come,” said BC Camplight’s Brian Christinzio as he took the stage at Loppen with his backing band. It might have been overstating things a smidge; the set is only an hour. But there is a joyous abandon to it. 

As a recording artist who builds his songs around dreamy, retro textures, BC Camplight’s live performance is an interesting mix of recreating that warmth and gauze and poking through it with occasionally jarring clarity. It takes different forms. On “You Should Have Gone to School,” Francesca Pidgeon’s backing vocals add more heft coming from a strong female singer than the thin falsetto of the recording could. Christinzio’s solo performance of the sentimental “When I Think of My Dog” (actually about his dog Frankie) is an unexpected display of his accomplishments as a pianist. These flourishes at the piano are matched by the odd growl or skip along scales in a much lower vocal range than he normally sings. It’s as if he’s simultaneously reminding us that his performance is not some flawlessly mixed record, but also that, if he wanted, he could be a very different kind of singer.

Most of the songs from the evening come from BC Camplight’s most recent album, Deportation Blues. People are dancing to the existential crisis of “I’m in a Weird Place Now,” the more relevant-than-ever ode to Theresa May, “Fire in England,” and the scorching, repetitive chime of “I’m Desperate.” Christinzio has confined himself to the space behind his piano, flanked on either side by synth rigs. There are many times throughout the evening where he hints at the kind of dynamism he would have if he were on a physically larger stage, but instead we have to content ourselves with his energy, his witticisms, and his constant removing and replacing of his sunglasses. He reveals that a new album is on the docket. Four albums and 14 years on from his debut, he makes us believe that there still is a lot more to look forward to.

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh.

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