buttonFennesz with Aoki Takamasa
@ Daikanyama U nit (22nd Mar. '09)

Well, I wouldn't call it music...

      I went out on a rainy Tokyo night on advisement. A friend of mine, an ambient musician herself, stressed that the Fennesz gig was going to be awesome, so I dutifully put up my hand. A night of ambient and experimental music was well better than sitting around the house! Being a rainy Sunday night and a rather less than usual lineup, I expected a moderate crowd at best. However, once I arrived a few minutes early I could see that I had misjudged the ability of this genre to draw a decent sized crowd. A good warmup of some nice dubby tunes seemed incongruous with what was to come, and by the time d.v.d. (drums visual drums) took to the stage I was barely able to move, let alone see them. The place was packed to the seams. I've truly never seen Unit so crowded, and I've seen more than a few big name bands and DJs here.

      d.v.d. are a three piece, two percussionists (Itoken & Jimanika) and a third (visual artist Takashi Yamaguchi) piloting two laptops and various other visual instruments, the likes of which I've not seen before. I was especially intrigued by the tablet PC-like handheld unit Yamaguchi brandished at times, dancing away as he left the two laptops alone, driving the behind stage visuals with this wireless instrument. Starting out with some slow abstract electronic beats, the initially slow percussion from the two drummers got faster and faster, driving the images, which in turn play music (the images, not the drummers!), seemingly oblivious to their laptop toting counterpart. Hmmm. Some interesting visuals on the background to complement them driven by the input of the three on stage, but a rather less than coherent sound. Think your iTunes visualiser driving the music, rather than the other way around. Things improved markedly for their second track, and they seemed to get it all together and gelled nicely for a few tracks. The irresistible urge got to them on occasion, and they did take it a little too far at times, losing me as they went, but overall a good, interesting performance.

      Aoki Takamasa followed, with a good, but short, set that seemed a little like it would have been better suited to a late night slot. He'd be right at home in Unit at 3am, but we were on a sunday evening here. Starting out with what sounded like a Cessna taking off, he took us on a journey from an electronic night sky scene complete with digital crickets chirping to high points that had the sound guy scrabbling to sort something out. A few sampled vocals peppered the 40 minute set, as did many glitchy sounds and feedback over a nice back beat that drove us through the performance. Got it! I'll be looking out for his name on flyers in the future! Unfortunately I can't say the same for Keiichiro Shibuya who followed. This was 50 minutes of sounds for true connoisseurs of glitch and feedback genre, and I must say, I am not... Starting with a sample of a sprinkler system in your local park, his set quickly built up to fever pitch, and stayed there. This stuff was the aural equivalent of a seismograph, and barely a beat was heard throughout. Seizure inducing sounds. The audience stared blank faced, but seemingly serene. I was clearly out of my depth...

      Another short break before Christian Fennesz took to the stage, and provided us with a much more calming experience. Famous for combining his guitar and laptop on stage into a one man show, he clearly had a lot of fans here tonight. This was what we had come to see... After the stark experience before I was relieved to listen to Fennesz wind his way through his set, using his latest release Black Sea as the basis for a series of improvised pieces melding into one. Like most ambient artists, what you listen to on a recording is often far removed from what you get in a live show. Described as a "laptop artist" on many sites, he is really so much more than that, creating as his biography states, a "shimmering, swirling, electronic sound of enormous range and complex musicality". Blending old and new (guitar, soundboard and laptop) to produce some beautifully melancholic moments, mixed in with more static based tracks. A slow waltz through a Sunday night, though the volume could grow to ear piercing at points. This was clearly the man the crowd had come to see, though throughout his performance he barely acknowledged them. No matter, they were moving about a lot more than they had with the supports, and good reason too. A seasoned on stage artist, there was barely a moment that seemed out of place here.

      My friend was right. Awesome.

report by dom

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buttonWell, I wouldn't call it music... (09/03/22 @ Daikanyama Unit) : review by dom

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The latest album


"Black Sea"
(国内盤 / US import / iTunes)

The latest album
with Ryuichi Sakamoto


(国内盤 / US import / iTunes)

previous works

"June" (US import - '12 analog)
"koko[single]" with Sakamoto (国内盤)
"Sala Santa Cecilia" with Sakamoto (US import)
"Endless Summer" (国内盤 - Delux Edition / iTunes)
"Venice" (US import / iTunes)
"Field Recordings 1995: 2002" (US import)
"Hotel Parallel" (国内盤 - Delux Edition / US import)
"Playing By Numbers"(US import )
"Live in Japan" (国内盤)
"Till the Old World's Blown Up" (UK import)
"Plus Forty Seven Degrees 56' 37" Minus Sixteen Degrees 51' 08"" (US import)
"76:14" (UK import)
"Transistion" (UK import - '7 analog)
...and more

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buttonWell, I wouldn't call it music... Fennesz : (22nd Mar. @ Daikanyama Unit)


buttonMetal Mayhem Extreme The Dojo Vol 20 feat. At The Gates, Dillinger Escape Plan, Mayhem, Pig Destroyer, Into Eternity : (10th May @ Shinkiba Studio Coast)
buttonOff The Beat'n Track Rodrigo Y Gabriela : (30th Mar. @ Shibuya Duo Music Exchange)

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