Thursday, October 25, 2007

Othin Spake - 18/10/2007@PP Café, Bruxelles

Teun Verbruggen - d (website | myspace)
Mauro Pawlowski - g
Jozef Dumoulin - Fender Rhodes

The Ankh is a fabulous album (apparently , it's also available on iTunes), and Othin Spake's great concert early last year was one of the best of 2006, but here, texture kind of came back to bite me. The group started with really shambolic, discombobulated noise that couldn't help but to bring to mind disparaging clichés about noise-rock. No hopeful melodies or unstable grooves were hewn out of the din, no skeletal motifs made the onslaught legible. Their absence made evident why the high points in their 100% improvised music sound so miraculous: there's a very real chance they won't happen.

About halfway through, though, a few signposts started slipping in, as Mauro's approximation of 3-chord rock nudged Teun into a busy back-beat. A capitulation, perhaps, but it was the first time anyone (listener or player) seemed to be having any fun. And, let's face it, noise is a lot more fun when you can dance to it and cataclysm can always do with a catchy jingle (there are plenty such moments on The Ankh).

The last improvisation rewarded those who had stuck with the music. It started with a single repeated guitar note: warm, luminous, gentle; a fragile solitude in an unexpected stillness. These characteristics survived even as the music grew louder, more violent and gloriously crunchy in texture. And then it was over, too soon.