Friday the 13th : Le Grand Cirque

april 16, 2009.

[ podcast :: sbpc 29 ... s ]

On friday march the 13th, La Comète 347 in Paris very literally became the arena for displaying a vision of which I vividly remember how it struck Jean Bordé, on the evening of october 18th last year, when the two of us did a duo performance at La Générale in Sèvres as part of a very interesting event encompassing performances, installations and films.flyer One of the bands performing there that evening were the Nozal Cube, from Le Havre, and Jean seemed fascinated by the fact that, even though the material and instruments used were very different from ours, that band did use an idiom pretty close to that of Diktat. "They are our cousins," he told me, "just like La Brocante Sonore are our cousins." While I rolled a cigarette, Jean went to get us some beers. That must've been when the idea suddenly hit him. "You know what I would like to do," he said, "I'd like to put all three of these groups in one space, and have them perform together. Tous à la fois ... alors," he smiled, maliciously, "ça va être très noise." The "noise"-part, the altogether and especially Jean's smile then in my mind combined into sort of like a Sicilian family reunion. If you see what I mean.

It was almost five months later that these three bands - Diktat, La Brocante Sonore and Nozal Cube - indeed set up together in Paris, in La Comète 347, that wonderful cultural refuge on the rue du Faubourg du Temple, not far from the Place de la République.

As you can imagine, having three of such ensembles perform ensemble is easier said than done. There were quite a number of questions that remained to be answered. How would we be placed relative to one another inside La Comète? What sort of amplification would (or should) we use? Were we to use some sort of script to guide us, or general directions indicating how the playing would take place? There seemed an awful lot of parameters, the twitching of which might dramatically alter the outcome. And indeed at least some of us at times seemed to give these matters some sort of thought. Every now and then I got a mail from Anthony, usually asking what sort of amplifiers we'd use. And then I probably answered that I thought we'd better be using as little amplification as possible. Meanwhile Jean and Yoko went to Japan, and came back again. And then it became Christmas and then there was another New Year, and then I was in Brussels, and time passes evermore quickly ...

There was a friday 13th in february. And then another one in march, because this year's february counted 28 days.

If for nothing else, the event already was special for the fact that for the first time since last july Rinus would be over from elsewhere, and once again would plug in his dictaphones as part of Diktat. Moreover, La Brocante Sonore would include Marc Rijmenants, the amazing electric shoe shiner from Brussels. Before I met Marc in person, for quite some time I took him for a myth, that for some reason the brocanteurs had made up. But then he suddenly materialized, over the weekend of march 21st last year, when I went with the Brocante for a two day stand in the café l'Ecart in Lille.
It was an interesting weekend we spent there.
We stayed in a friend's apartment, where we had a couple of great meals and enjoyed just hanging around together. I remember how on saturday afternoon we projected Kurosawa movies on the wall, and then all together a cappella unisono read out loud the film's french subtitles. That was amazing. It worked somewhat less well that evening, when we repeated the exercise projecting through L'Ecart's window on the outside wall of the building across the street, but it was interesting that actually part of the audience immediately joined in :-) ... I do think this is something to maybe take further, though, and try some time again.

Kurosawa Ecart

That weekend in Lille Marc Rijmenants was part of the band, and set up his beautiful shoeshine seat alongside our equipment in the café l'Ecart, and anybody in the audience wearing leather shoes was welcome to take a seat, and have Marc shine his or her shoes or boots, the sounds of which, picked up by contact microphones went into 'the mix' ...

Here is a picture of Marc setting up his electric shoeshine seat in the Brocante's corner, in La Comète, the afternoon of friday march 13th.


In fact, eventually visually each of the three 'actors' at La Comète got 'characterized' by a chair. Diktat, in another corner, took Michael's red hairdresser's seat as a prop.


The Nozal Cube set up in the Comète's 'swimming pool', alongside the 'wooden throne'.

Nozal Cube

I have heard some people suggest that we maybe thought of the event as an excercise in 'multi-tasking', commenting on the staggering growth of the offer in both recorded and live music, of whatever type, enough to make even the most persevering of music fans loose track. Thus the event at La Comète would give them a chance to experience three related EAI-groups simultaneously, a bit like Arnaud Rivière's Turbothèque, which enables the simultaneous play-back of a number tracks from different CDs. But we never thought of it that way ourselves. In the time leading up to the event, our own intention more or less converged to the idea of trying to have the three bands perform as if it were a trio. A trio, in which each of the three players is not an individual, but a compound. It was to be, as Rébus suggested, a Triple Entente.

You can hear us talk about this in the second part of this SB-edition's podcast, which is an extract from the monday march 9th edition of the indispensable Songs of Praise-emission on Radio AligreFM, in which Diktat were the invité spécial.
In the first part of the podcast you hear the short 'unplugged' live set that Diktat did that evening in the Aligre studio, seated around the round table and playing directly into the microphones. The recording is monophonic, but I actually do think that here, and 'unplugged' like this, you hear Diktat at its best. The 3 dictaphonists weave a polyphonic texture from cut-up and distorted (deconstructed) discourse, in several languages (in this recording there's speak in german, dutch, english and french). Jean's double bass acts as a spinal cord around which the three voices revolve; it comments on them, and ties them together; or, at times, sends them off in different directions altogether ...

In the interview, Rébus suggests that the idea of the Triple Entente logically leads to that of a 'second-order music'. In first-order music you have individual musicians, acting together in a group or an orchestra, like the cells in an organ. In the second-order music of the Triple Entente, several of these organs are set to work together, and form an organism ...

That was the theory.
In practice, it was anarchy.

Cassette Piano

Even during the few and short tests in the afternoon, it was clear that it would be very difficult to properly hear all that was going on; and very, very difficult to have something of a visual contact with the other groups while performing. And as soon as also the audience was added to the equation, this turned out to become impossible ...

Interestingly, it was still and undoubtedly that audience who gained most that friday march 13th in La Comète, where our Triple Entente all good intentions notwithstanding turned out as the Grand Cirque as which it originally had been announced. It was a happening, that's for sure, a sonic flea-market, on which the Brocante Sonore rightfully took a central stand. We had Ylane Duparc (a young magician that we met during our second performance in Fukiko's salon de coiffure in Vincennes), stunning visitors at the entrance with amazing tricks, and inside they chanced upon a treasure stove of bric-à-brac and sonic bricolage.

Record player

The audience in fact was the fourth actor that evening, and an important one: by their continuous moving about and ongoing chit-chat it was the audience that made the evening into the fun audio kermis that it became, and several of the musicians indeed from time to time joined them in their wandering about. With, or without, their instruments.

I have not seen yet any video nor heard audio recordings from that evening, but these will probably surface at some point ... All photographs on this page were made during the preparations in the afternoon.

There are plans to organize sequels in Le Havre and in Brussels. Looking forward to that. Of course we'll do things differently next times ...

[ DIKTAT were Har$, Rébus, Rinus van Alebeek (dictaphones) and Jean Bordé (double bass). NOZAL CUBE were Emmanuel Islande (el. piano), Arnaud le Mindu (el. guitar), Jean-Philippe Gomez (synthesizer, voc.) and Nicolas Lelièvre (perc.). LA BROCANTE SONORE were Jacques Foschsia (radios), Anthony Carcone (der. guitar), Marc Rijmenants (el. shoe shine) and Cyrille Flament (vinyl). ]

tags: Diktat, Paris, La Comète 347

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