Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

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February 2016

LIVE REVIEW: Arnold Dreyblatt and the Orchestra of Excited Strings, Jazzhouse, 18.02.2016

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Vinterjazz follows on the same trend of Jazzhouse itself: There’s some jazz, but they’re not especially strict or picky about following certain guidelines. The loosely thematic program scheduled in February is an excellent excuse to put outfits together on the same bill that have only the vaguest ties to one another. Jazz purists would surely be horrified. But it’s excellent.

Stephen O’Malley is best known for his work with SunnO))); Randall Dunn is best known as a producer who sometimes works with SunnO))). Their opening set does not sound like SunnO))) and does not pretend to. It’s primarily a thick, ambient mass of guitar and keyboards, and yeah, it’s loud, and there’s a bit of that familiar rumble, especially when Dunn fills in the bass with a Korg. There are actually times when you can distinguish the guitar, and even individual notes, particularly an interlude where O’Malley strums a series of stuttered notes. It doesn’t take long before he jabs at the pedals set up before him with a finger as though he’s gotten annoyed at how quiet things are. It’s not an all-consuming volume, and there’s no smoke machine to gas you out, but it’s clear that the men know how to lull an audience even without extreme low frequencies.

Arnold Dreyblatt

The minimalism of Arnold Dreyblatt’s opening song is shocking in its contrast. He spends 15 minutes whacking out harmonics on his bass with a bow before being joined by the Orchestra of Excited Strings.

If his opening song is demonstrably and performatively avant garde, then what follows is practically pop music. Despite being joined by a tuba player, a guitarist whose right hand scarcely touches the strings and a drummer who also plays robotic guitar (rigged to a laptop — more of a party piece than a looping pedal, but every song starts and ends with it), the rhythms are conventional, the overtones are warm, and the songs are upbeat and accessible, no matter how creative the musicians’ methods are. By the end of the set, people are dancing in the doorway, crowded out of the main room by chairs.

With such wildly different performers, there was a noted shift in the audience from one set to the next. But if you showed up late or left early, you definitely missed out.

LIVE REVIEW: The Residents, Amager Bio, 09.02.16

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Photos by Amanda Farah

The Residents have remained a mystery for 40 years now, with a back-catalogue that makes the Fall look like lazy in comparison. Their appearance is always an event, gathering together misfits of all ages and backgrounds, and today it is preceded by an interview at the Main Library. Three masked figures, two of them looking not altogether dissimilar to the Spirit of Jazz from the Mighty Boosh, sit menacingly in the candlelight as their spokesperson answers questions with witty evasions.

The three weirdos looming over this conversation are known Randy, Chuck and Bob, and the album they are presenting, “Shadowlands”, is the last in a trilogy they have named after themselves. After the departure of “Carlos”–ostensibly to run a chicken farm in Mexico (the spokesperson assures us it is “more of a metaphorical chicken farm”–the band began to attach names to themselves, replacing the obscurity of anonymity with that of personal narratives.

There is definitely some kind of narrative at work at their concert, where old re-worked favourites like “Constantinople” and “Blue Rosebud” are intercut with video segments. This is not so much a retrospective as a re-presentation of material which has always sounded outside of its own time. The sound can sometimes veer towards the cheesy–particularly with the tinny, hyper-effected guitar solos–but if anything this heightens the weirdness, highlights just how out of place the band really is.

With a backdrop of optical illusions and a looming giant balloon that functions as projector screen, the band’s bizarre outfits pop out with such hyper-reality that you might convince yourself that they themselves are illusions. To some extent, of course, that is true. You’ll notice, for example, that the figure of ‘Randy’, half crazed scientist, half psychopathic magician, is considerably more portly on stage than he was during the pre-show interview. Many internet theorists posit that the man hollering on stage is in fact the same Homer Flynn that presented himself as “spokesperson” for the band only an hour ago.

But that is an altogether too probable explanation. If you need to speculate as to who the Residents really are, you are better off going for the wildly improbable (I have heard everyone from David Byrne and Paul McCartney). You could pin them down, categorize them, name them, but then what would remain?

VIDEO: Gents – ‘Love Is Tears’

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Copenhagen duo Gents (aka Theis Vesterløkke and Niels Fejrskov Juhl) released their debut EP ‘Embrace The Future‘ in December 2015 after putting out singles “Young Again” and “Circles” throughout 2015 which received great praise in Danish media leading them to being named on several “ones to watch” lists for 2016. Their first release for this year comes in the form of a video for catchy anti-love ballad “Love Is Tear” from said EP.

Watch the video for ‘Love Is Tears’ below:

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