Thursday, February 09, 2006

Animus Anima - 07/02/2006, Brussels

I'd been to the Walvis bar once before, a long time ago. At least, I think I've been there, despite not recognising the interior at all. Bizarre as it may sound, that may be because when I went there (or, rather, was taken there), I had no idea where in Brussels I was. General disorientation led to forgetting the specifics. Now I know the Walvis is on the wrong (ie. non-designer clothes shop-laden) end of Antoine Dansaert, by the canal. Anyway, it's a cool place with promising upcoming concerts (Tsahar-Maris-Jacquemyn-Nakatani this sunday) and interestingly-configured downstairs toilets.

What do you do when you're a saxophone-guitar-drums trio looking to broaden its sound palette? Well, if you're Animus Anima, you add a tuba and a desktop (not laptop!)-slash-orator, obviously. Perhaps my single favourite thing about this band is that their air of general dishevelment makes you think that they're going to mainly be about punkish energy (which wouldn't be too bad) but their music turns out to be very composed, full of dynamic, rhythmic and stylistic variety. And with a good dose of skronk/rock/noise energy, of course. It's one of those multi-hyphenated musics that sound so natural they instantly make musty "is it jazz?" (their own website labels them "progressive jazz") or "what of tradition?" debates seem quaint, while raising other, more interesting and forward-looking, questions and ideas.

Through the first set I was sitting directly to the band's left, and therefore not at all well-positioned to really hear them: only the instruments that vitally need amps (guitar, computer/microphone) were amplified at all, so I could barely even hear the saxophonist, who was facing away at a 90 degree angle from me. To top it all off, there was this really cold draught around my feet.

During the break, I moved to the bar, directly in front of, and a couple of metres away from, the band and enjoyed the music that much more. There were fanfare tuba riffs, twisty melodies, tricky metres (a heavy 5/8 riff, a 10-beat loop over what sounded like regular 4/4, which had the effect of throwing the saxophonist off-course), outbursts of noise. When the computer guy spoke, it sounded like he was speaking through a megaphone, and as the saxophone squealed alongside him and the drummer kept up a nimble beat, I thought about how politically-charged and radical stuff like this must have been back in the 80s. It still sounds cool today.

AA is also putting in motion a home-spun Artist Share-derived business model: at the end of the concert guitarist Benoist Eil encouraged fans to become supporters by buying the album before it is even recorded. I'll be signing up soon.

Animus Anima is performing with Herb Robertson on the 3rd of march. Check it out!