Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

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Ivna Franic

Ivna Franic has 3 articles published.

LIVE REVIEW: The KVB + The Foreign Resort, Loppen, 26.05.2016

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KVB

Thursday, Loppen was set to get cloaked in black with The KVB and the local support of The Foreign Resort. As it turns out, what was supposed to get us into the mood for the UK duo’s reverb-washed minimal electronics was none other than new wave romanticism. Altough The Foreign Resort’s music nominally inhabits the similar dark realms as that of The KVB, they did seem like a somewhat odd choice for an opener.

After getting over the initial impression of the band as another bunch of cheesy 80s revivalists, we actually found a lot to enjoy in their emotional take on the shoegazey post-punk. While they do seem to have picked up a few tricks from their US tour mates A Place to Bury Strangers, The Foreign Resort are not here just to make noise and light up the strobo. Underneath all the fuzz lie some really catchy new wave hits and epic goth-tinged gems. It probably helps that the lead singer’s vocals recall Robert Smith on one hand and 90s emo-ish indie rock on the other.
The thing is, The Foreign Resort have something that’s unfortunately quite rare with contemporary shoegaze bands: proper songs. It might sound funny but it’s true – a good deal of new generation shoegazers rely heavily on effects, so much so they often forget that putting a shitload of reverb on a third-rate punk song doesn’t make you entitled to use My Bloody Valentine in your press release. Ultimately, good songs are what saves a band that wears their 80s and 90s influences on their sleeve from being just a retro gimmick, as The Foreign Resort seem to know very well.

Following the noise and affectionate singing came The KVB with their repetitive drum machine rhythms and Nicholas Wood’s monotone delivery. Not that this is a bad thing in itself – after all, that’s precisely what they’ve made a name for. Judging by their recent releases, however, they didn’t get very far from 2013’s Immaterial Visions, still a highlight in their discography. Whoever is into a band like The KVB knows – and probably loves – the disinterested aura of a typical darkwave post-punk act. However, their live performance unfortunately brings forward The KVB’s inferiority to both the indifference of contemporaries like Tropic of Cancer and HTRK and the pastiche of acts like Nite Fields or The Soft Moon.
The majority of their set floated by dispassionately lulling the audience into… well, not caring too much about what’s going on on stage. It wasn’t until the end of the concert that we got to hear gems like “Dayzed” which got us into the band in the first place. That, of course, wouldn’t be an issue at all if their recent material could match the early singles. Their latest album Of Desire seems to be more-of-the-same, and the same could be said for pretty much every song played live the other night.
For some inexplicable reason, The KVB chose “Sympathy for the Devil” as one of the closing tracks. Their cover of the Rolling Stones’ classic is just one of those covers that doesn’t make much sense even though it does shine a light an interesting source of inspiration for a darkwave band. The rock source seems to be covertly but thoroughly present in their riffs and often psychedelic approach, however the song in question is simply too powerful for their bland delivery. After a few more interesting tracks, this proved to be an unfortunately convenient conclusion to The KVB’s performance.

LIVE REVIEW: William Basinski, Jazzhouse, 07.04.16

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William Basinski

With a show at Jazzhouse sold out a week in advance, William Basinski’s place in contemporary avant-garde music clearly hasn’t gone unnoticed with the local audience.

Opening the night was Danish sound artist Lars Lundehave Hansen. His equipment was set up next to Basinski’s centre-stage desk, on a small round table covered with a sumptuous red lit tablecloth. Taking the place at the table dressed in a sleek suite and occasionally waving his hand through the air, Hansen gave away an impression of a magician. His music, however, did not quite live up to its magical setting. In spite of some interesting moments, the opening set was mostly made up of decent if slightly dull and rather conventional drone.

Having seen William Basinski perform a few times before, what first struck me as unusual (apart from his rockstar looks that one can apparently never get used to) was the absence of the projection screen. In place of sedative sea-like projections screened on Basinski’s previous tour, there were lights shining around him in different colours and patterns. Change can be good, of course, but bright, lollipop lights were hardly a match for the comforting ambiance coming from the PA.

Putting the unanticipated visual component aside, Basinski’s performance was pretty much all one would expect it to be. That is not to say it can be described in terms of good and bad; it was simply true to the music he’s known for. With two portable reel-to-reel tape decks as his faithful companions, Basinski patiently highlights the gradual decay of sound. Short sounds from the tape are elongated in feedback loops washing over the space, drawing the listeners into meditation.

In a live setting, Basinski’s familiar approach and fragile sound forms feel even more tangible than on recordings. The general mood is rattled by the occasional look to the stage in all its light-show glory. Curiously, that only seems to underline the point – this is the sound of all things inevitably fading away, no matter how shiny they may appear.

Lust for Youth “Compassion” Release Party, Sigurdsgade, 02.04.16

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Although primarily conceived and promoted as a release party for Lust for Youth’s new album Compassion, the event that took place at Sigurdsgade on Saturday was much more than what could have easily been a headliner concert with support acts thrown in to fill the lineup. Actually, as the evening wore on, the most important performance casually turned into the least memorable one. But let’s start at the beginning.

The “Ny Dansk Romantik” duo Rosen & Spyddet had the ever-unrewarding task of opening another band’s big night. Fortunately they were wise enough to regard this as an opportunity – and promptly took it! It’s probably safe to assume that a good deal of the early-bird audience was not acquainted with their work, and (as always) some preferred to chat at the bar rather than to engage with music. But all those who cared to listen quickly found themselves enchanted by the duo’s soothing melodies. Rosen & Spyddet presented the recently released Drengen Ved Brystet as well as material from their beautiful 2015 album Fortuna, using warm synths and gentle beats to create a dreamy atmosphere moving you to a different place and time.

While setting up their gear, members of Orphan Ann brought some flowers to arrange on the floor. The Morrisey-invoking gesture couldn’t have been more misleading though, as the flowers were soon overshadowed by chains. Unlike the lush ambience from the romantics playing before them, lulling the audience into daydream is about the last thing Orphan Ann wanted to do. Their brief but intense performance amped up the volume and increased the ferocity of what many expected to be a benign synth-pop event. Those of us who don’t mind a little disruption and/or challenge found plenty to appreciate in the Swedish duo’s blend of concert and performance art driven by harsh electronics, rallying cries and narration in Russian.

After two gorgeous and demanding performances, it was easy to forget the reason why most people came in the first place. As the venue started to fill up, it seemed like the intimate underground gathering was over and all of a sudden it was time to party. Having previously shared the bill and/or label with the opening acts, Lust for Youth have clearly had a hand in the lineup selection. The decision to have what is very much an experimental band performing before their polished synth-pop, as well as the music they make with their solo projects, makes it impossible to write Lust for Youth off as some incidentally talented poseurs – no matter how much they sometimes tried to go for precisely that image.

It is debatable whether an album release party is intended for the band and their friends to simply have fun, or if it’s supposed to be the band’s night to shine, and the experience of Lust for Youth’s Saturday concert would probably depend on your view on this. Having seen them perform elsewhere, I know this was far from the best they can do, and surely they know it too. Considering the technical issues that marked the entire first part of their performance, it’s somewhat understandable that things didn’t run smoothly and that the band was visibly annoyed. However, while Fischer and Rahbek made sure that the music continued properly blasting regardless of the issues, Norrvide seemed as if he couldn’t be bothered to sing, turning his usual fittingly deadpan delivery into careless shouts and sneers.

Sure, Lust for Youth’s anthemic synth-pop hooks still sound powerful over the PA, but on this particular occasion, it was kind of difficult to care. They should nonetheless get praise for putting together such a daring lineup, and for providing two amazing acts with a chance to gain some new fans.

 

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