Tag Archives: Barcelona

March 2018 – Stick Men on tour in Europe (2-31 March – also featuring Emanuele Cirani, The Fierce & The Dead and XaDu)

27 Feb

Throughout March, King Crimson-affiliated experimental rock trio Stick Men wind their bouncing, droning, percussive way around Europe. Fronted by veteran singing Chapman Stick maestro Tony Levin, propelled by drummer Pat Mastelotto (an ever-underrated master of electro-acoustic kit and rhythmic surprise) and completed by polydisciplinary Touch Guitarist Markus Reuter, their journey takes in assorted clubs, small theatres and music eateries in Austria, Italy, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Slovakia, France, Finland, Spain and England. These venues might be somewhat smaller than the lofty theatres which Pat and Tony have recently been filling as part of the current eight-man Crimson, but this is a positive thing. It’s one of the few chances you’ll get to experience this level of inventive extended rock musicality in this size of venue, and Stick Men (playing to growing, enthusiastic knots of people) deserve far better than their spin-off status, a box they’ve long since wriggled their way out of.


 
Via both instrumentation and the inescapable Crimson connection, the 1980 template set by the latter band’s ‘Discipline’ album casts quite a long shadow over Stick Men – the knotty polyphonic staccato, the metrical puzzles, the whomp’n’chunk of two sets of hands hitting two touchstyle fretboards. But this was always a template partly shaped by Tony; and although the band’s musical direction does draw somewhat on the flinty, monolithic ecstasies of Crimson music (expect a few ‘Larks Tongues in Aspic’ instrumentals to make a bloody-knuckled showing, alongside a voyage through Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’) and their last album carried the tongue-in-cheek title of ‘Prog Noir’ title, they’re not constrained by style, choosing rather to percolate within it like one of Tony’s beloved espressos before flooding outwards in all directions.

In fact, there’s a surprisingly un-prog breeziness to what they do. Tony might have waited until his autumn years before turning to frontman work, but his warm easygoing nature and gently kidding demeanour proves a fine fit for the role; and it’s his flowing omnivorous musicality (rather than Robert Fripp’s looming shadow) which ultimately sets Stick Men’s tone and releases their flow. Prior to and parallel to Crimson, Tony had five decades of first-call sessionwork: his glomping basslines backed and coloured the songs of Paul Simon, John Lennon, James Taylor, Peter Gabriel et al in a manner closer to conversational doo-wop singing than to simple low-end rooting, and some of that singing quality’s migrated to this project.


 
To an extent, Markus is stuck with a Frippish guitar role (he provides formidable reflections of the latter’s magisterial chops, ambient auroras and swarming killer-bee solo tone) but he also brings a different game to the stage. Outside of Stick Men, his own output has included free-form electric improv, protracted psychedelic drones, tundra-fire accompaniment to Siberian throat-singers, wild higher-mathematical dance frenzies and immense algorithmic orchestral pieces. With Stick Men his sometimes stern, magisterial-seeming stage presence regularly breaks out into unguarded humour and bursts of cerebral romanticism played out through the fretboard. Meanwhile Pat’s bridging, gizmo-assisted drumming can (and does) slip easily and unshowily between tacit Ringo Starr accompaniment, mathematical sledge-blows and intricate polyrhythmic dance-club rushes a la Marque Gilmore.



 
While most dates see the band playing alone, in Italy their Veneto date features support from Italian Chapman Sticker/bass guitarist/singer Emanuele Cirani, who usually trades in haunted, distorted block riffage as Colpo Rosso. In England, their Wolverhampton date is shared with friendly British troupe The Fierce & The Dead, who’ve been rebounding around the gaps between garage rock, prog, highlife and post-hardcore since 2010 and now seem poised on the brink of a substantial breakthrough. In Spain, the opening act in Madrid is XaDu, the hanging, questioning, avant-progressive jazz-rock duo put together by cross-genre Spanish drummer Xavi Reija and Serbian texture-jazz guitarist Dusan Jevcovic, who play up a complex two-man interplay while simultaneously sousing it in a dirty, deconstructive electrical storm.




 

Full dates:

  • Planet Live Club, Via del Commercio 36, 00154 Roma, Italy, Friday 2nd March 2018, 9.00pm – information here and here
  • Viperclub, Via Pistoiese 309/4, Piazza Ilaria Alpi e Miran Hrovatin, 5, 50145 Firenze, Italy, Saturday 3rd March 2018, 9.00pm – information here and here
  • Blue Note, Via Pietro Borsieri 37, 20159 Milano,, Italy, Sunday 4th March 2018, 9.00pminformation
  • Club Il Giardino Lugagnano, Via Ugo Foscolo, 37060 Sona, Veneto, Italy, Monday 5th March 2018, 9.00pm (with Emanuele Cirani) – information here and here
  • Porgy & Bess, Riemergasse 11, 1010 Vienna, Austria, Wednesday 7th March 2018, 9.00pm – information here and here
  • Budapest Jazz Club, Hollán Ernő utca 7. 1136 Budapest, Hungary, Thursday 8th March 2018, 7.00pm – information here and here
  • BlueNote Jazz & Music Restaurant, J.Hašku 18,
    915 01 Nové Mesto nad Váhom, Slovak Republic, Saturday 10th March 2018, 8.00pm
    – information here and here
  • Sono Centrum, Veveří 105, 603 00 Brno, Czech Republic, Sunday 11th March 2018, 8.00pm – information here, here and here
  • Lucerna Bar, Vodičkova 36, 110 00 Praha, Czech Republic, Tuesday 13th March 2018, 7.00pm – information here and here
  • Robin 2, 20-28 Mount Pleasant, Bilston, Wolverhampton, WV14 7LJ, England, Thursday 15th March 2018, 8.00pm (with The Fierce & The Dead) – information here and here
  • Acapela Studios, Capel Horeb, Heol Y Pentre, Pentyrch, Cardiff, CF15 9QD, Wales, Friday 16th March 2018, 9.00pm – information here, here and here
  • Trading Boundaries, Sheffield Green, near Fletching, East Sussex, TN22 3RB, England, Saturday 17th March 2018, 9.00pm – information here and here
  • L’Empreinte, 301 Avenue de l’Europe, Savigny-le-Temple, Paris, France, Sunday 18th March 2018, 6.00pm – information here and here
  • Tavastia, Urho Kekkosen katu 6, Helsinki 00100,Finland, Monday 19th March 2018, 8.00pm – information here and here
  • Validi Karkia Club, Pori, Finland, Tuesday 20th March 2018, 8.30pm – information here
  • Sala Bikini, Av.Diagonal 547, L’Illa Diagonal 08029, Barcelona, Espana, Thursday 29th March 2018 – information t.b.c.
  • Cool Stage, Madrid, Espana, Friday 30th March 2018, 8.00pm (with XaDu) – information here and here
  • La Cochera Cabaret, Avenida de los Guindos 19, 29004 Málaga, Espana, Saturday 31st March 2018, 9.00pm – information here

 

September 2016 – upcoming London classical and classical fusion gigs – Kimiko Ishizaka’s completion of Bach’s Art of Fugue at St Johns Smith Square (23rd); Ayako Fujiki launches ‘brightwater’ at the 1901 Arts Club and St Olave’s Hart Street (28th & 29th)

15 Sep

Here’s a quick scoot around a pair of London classical gigs coming up this month from two very different Japanese pianists – one specialising in pure yet innovative interpretations of baroque masterpieces, the other using romantic keyboard works as a springboard towards her own neo-romantic classical-fusion compositions.

Once again, most of what I’ve got here is press-release turnover…

* * * * * * * *

Kimiko Ishizaka (photo © Philippe Ramaker)

Kimiko Ishizaka (photo © Philippe Ramaker)

Kimiko Ishizaka: ‘J.S. Bach: ‘Die Kunst der Fuge, BWV 1080′. Completed.’
St John’s Smith Square, Smith Square, Westminster, London, SW1P 3HA, England
Friday 23rd September 2016, 6.30pm
information

“A mesmerizing completion of one of the most challenging
keyboard works of all times. Confronting the ultimate tragedy of music history, German-Japanese pianist Kimiko Ishizaka, (renowned for her highly-praised, best-selling recordings of Bach), presents her completion of Bach’s unfinished masterpiece, ‘Die Kunst der Fuge’, BWV 1080.

“Upholding the musical logic of Bach, yet offering an expressive response, Kimiko’s approach was based on a thorough study of all preceding fugues, coupled with a conviction that Bach would have concluded with something powerful, dramatic, expressive and architecturally true to the existing musical structures. Premiered in March 2016 in Cologne, Germany, ‘Die Kunst der Fuge, komplett’ comes to the UK for the first time this September.


 
“Kimiko’s sound production is strongly influenced by her success as a competitive athlete and her exploration of the physical mechanisms that are responsible for creating any given sound on the piano. Never listening to other pianists’ recordings, Kimiko takes inspiration purely from her own imagination. Her history also involves recording Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’ in 2012 as part of her Open Goldberg project – this was the first recording to be fan-funded, open source and completely free. Her 2015 release of ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’, also fan-funded, was a number-one best-selling commercial success and is regarded by some critics as their favorite recording of the work.”

* * * * * * * *

If you’d prefer something lighter, then there’s always the option of seeing Ayako Fujiki in a couple of shows right at the end of the month. There’s a clip of her below, in concert, performing one of her more fusion-based projects – admittedly, the New Age minimalism might not be everyone’s cup of tea (and yes, I do mean you, occasional reader who drops in sometimes because I also cover noise-rockers playing in various throat-cellars). But I’ve got to admit that I like the way Ayako simultaneously handles a concert grand, a cherry-red workstation and a backslung white keytar, all whilst resisting the urge to throw a set of glammy Rick Wakeman shapes.


 

Ayako’s upcoming London concerts showcase a more acoustic, neoclassical side to her music. While it might be touched and partially shaped – like much crossover work – by its composer’s work in advertising and incidental soundtracking (the associated video has the air of a fashion-shoot, with Ayako making much of both her personal beauty and her sense of poise and presentation), the music retains its own airy substance. In some respects, it’s similar to the neo-romantic Chopin-esque compositions which made David Lanz a New Age star in the 1980s (even as he steered well clear of that genre’s more insipid failings). More details on Ayako’s work and inspirations follow:

Ayako Fujiki @ 1901 Club, 28th September 2016“A virtuosic Japanese pianist born in Tokyo, and a concert performer from the age of seven, Ayako Fujiki was influenced by the riches of European culture and fell in love with the energy and diversity of Spanish classical music. She chose to move to the vibrant and eclectic city of Barcelona to study under renowned pianists such as Alicia de Larrocha (one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century, and also the first Spanish artist to win the UNESCO prize).

“Still based in Barcelona, Ayako continues to explore the duality between Japanese and Mediterranean heritage and culture. Combining her rigorous classical background with contemporary taste and technique, Ayako finds inspiration in romantic, world, minimal, electronic and even Japanese contemporary epic music.


 

“Having established herself as a leading classical concert performer on the Spanish music scene, and having released three albums interpreting work by other composers from Schubert to Debussy to Granados), Ayako’s current release ‘brightwater’ allows her to engage on a more personal creative level through the development of her own compositions. She has previously composed orchestrated pieces with piano and a variety of other instruments for films, advertising and documentaries, incorporating classical and electronic musical techniques.

Ayako Fujiki @ St Olaves Hart Street, 29th September 2016“‘brightwater’ comprises pieces written for solo piano, two pianos and piano trio. It was recorded in Barcelona with contributions from Cristian Chivu (violinist and concertmaster of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Barcelona y Nacional de Cataluña) and Cristoforo Pestalozzi (lead cellist in the Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu). The album propels the listener through a unique combination of cultures.

“Contributing to the established chronicle of musicians and composers taking inspiration from nature, the album offers Ayako’s reflections on the transience of landscapes, forests, rippling water and broken stones: capturing the beauty of eroded nature, she translates the slow but persistent effect of the natural elements on rocks and trees.”

The two London dates are as follows:

  • 1901 Arts Club, 7 Exton Street, Waterloo, London, SE1 8UE, England, Wednesday 28th September 2016, 5.00pm (album launch event)information
  • St. Olave Hart Street, St Olave’s Hart Street, 8 Hart Street, City of London, London, EC3R 7NB, England, Thursday 29th September 2016, 1:05pminformation

* * * * * * * *

Incidentally, and returning to the subject of keytars – if anyone’s interested in the idea of an eighteenth-century version, there’s one being played here…


 

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