Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Klinkende Munt Days 3 & 4 - 09,10/07/2005, Brussels

The photostream continues.

The Beursschowburg contains two main spaces. On the second floor, there's the concert hall, a drab shoebox with black drapes hanging from the walls, and much smaller than you'd expect. Around it is folded a structure that twists unpredictably and space-wastingly on itself. Masochism seems to drive the architecture: speckled beige carpeted floors, destined to be trampled, muddied and splotched, inaccessible dead space, walls painstakingly made to look unfinished or deteriorated.

going up

Oddly, it's only on the ground floor that the rest of the structure becomes comprehensible. I say "oddly," because the main access leads directly to the second floor and because to get to the ground floor (which is where the bar and informal stage are), you need to exit the building and go one door up the street. Here, there are open, rational spaces (which is probably why they are so hidden) that maternally encase the tortuous upper floors. A charming place.

Day 3


Ori Kaplan's Balkan Beat Box: "From New York and Tel-Aviv" a Masada for the post-hip hop/panglobal/DJ era. Drummer Tamir Muskat launches pre-recorded beats spanning hip hop, dub, 80s staccato drum machines, pounding rock or rocking dance from his laptop, and sometimes peppers them with vocals (Jewish schoolgirl playground chants? his own vocals processed and looped in real-time? a bit of both?), to great effect. The drums are almost just a prop to kick the whole thing into a furious overdrive at crucial points. The horns blare middle-Eastern melodies and exhort the crowd to scream and jump; the handlebar-mustachioed guitarist laconically distributes Israeli-rock solos; the mohawked singer/Mc/percussionist is insane and keeps the crowd energised, crowd-surfs to celebrate his success, shuffles along the thin platform that extends under the drapes for drama. "This one is for the children of Ramallah and Tel-Aviv," he says. Yet, the beat is more unstoppable machine than tender lullaby. The straight-to-the-point, relentless dancefloor music is interrupted only when Hassan is introduced. He takes a voice 'n' guembri solo, then picks up those hand cymbal things used to create the typical 6/8 pattern, and joins the band for Arabic-flavoured mania. Hassan's hat has a cord with a ball of cloth at the end of it, which swings non-stop as he plays. Awesome. By the end of the concert, calves ache, voice is hoarse. I haven't had this much fun at a concert in a while.

Day 4

Abdelhak Raha DJ Rupture

Nettle (DJ/Rupture and Abdelhak Raha on violin and oud) constitutes a radical departure from the breezy fanfares of previous days. "Violin and DJ" can seem odd, taken in isolation, but isn't, really, in context. When Raha plays the violin upright on his knee, the earlier technological assimilation is made clear, and it's sort of the same kind of thing as having the violin's sound processed by the DJ. When the Arabic community that had come early claps along to familiar melodies, the cultural subtext I'm missing is made concrete and coincidentally reveals Nettle's concept to be not all that different to that of popular crossover artists like Khaled. Or to that of many jazz musicians, who keep techniques created for the dancefloor even as they move away from it, which allows for exciting oscillations between the two poles.

Want a tower?

Nass El Ghiwane is apparently a legendary and politically radical Moroccan group from the '70s and 80's. I'll admit to having been more interested in the crowd's sociology than in the music. The first dozen or so rows were overwhelmingly Moroccan, young and male. They knew all the lyrics and reacted with an almost unsettling fervour, carrying each other on their shoulders and so on. Further back, the crowd became more European, feminine and observational. After about 45 minutes I'd had enough and went for a walk.


Pest sounded good on paper (Ninja Tune, cellist...), but turned out to be merely serviceable medium funk of the post-hip hop/acid jazz variety. The Fender Rhodes played its creamy chords and the guitarist unfurled a few good solos, the DJ/rapper livened things up from time to time and everybody danced a bit, eventually, but compared to the BBB's furore, it was all rather tame.

I dropped by the Kawa Jaipur Brassband's concert in the bar, but it was too hot and crowded. So I went and sat on the steps of the Bourse (Stock Exchange). It's a bit of a hotspot: it connects the touristy Grand'Place to the trendy Halles St-Géry and marks the northern limit of the Moroccan Gare de Midi area. It's an interesting place to eat a beef durum and drink a peach Bacardi Breezer late into a saturday night.