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The Great Johnny Hallyday Meltdown

july 6, 2010.

I was hesitating last wednesday June 30th whether, while packing my bags on the threshold of the second half of '10 and before heading with 'A Table!' for Heerlen and Schiphorst, I would hammer out a detailed report (in colors and tinkling and ringing perfumes) of the great Estafette Rue Cassette that took place on sunday June 20th. But in the end I decided that it will be better to hold on to that story for a little while, pending the release on Staal Tape of the cassette that we recorded there live, in the Rue Cassette, Paris VI.

rue cassette

It was precisely one week later, on sunday June 27th, that, with a couple of the very same cassetteurs that had gathered in front of the Parisian Café Cassette, we found ourselves at walking distance of the Château de Versailles, on the yearly Viroflay flea market/garage sale. With support of the local Maison des Arts et des Loisirs there Blenno und die Wurst-Brücke animated a Povera Park stall, to show passing bargain hunters and collectors through demonstrations and impromptu workshops and performances how to make music with near to nothing. That sunday, besides Blenno and myself, there was Alexis Malbert aka Tapetronic, with a flight case full of his craftfully bent and modified tape players (have a look at Alexis' uTube demo).

Pover Park

This was my Viroflay gear: one dictaphone, one cassette player, a cracklebox, two cassettes, a car connecting pack, a washboard, a small foldable metal stool, a contact microphone, a cocktail mixer, an electric toothbrush, a drum brush, a bass drum pedal, a handful of sewing needles, a couple of plastic cups. And a worn vinyl copy of Johnny Hallyday's 1981 album 'En Pièces Détachées', a title that proved to be a pretty to-the-point 3-word-summary of Blenno's Povera Park set-up.

If anything, it was bloody hot out there in the Viroflay sun. And so, while the three of us produced a wide range of Povera sounds that swinged, swang and swung, inciting the inquisitive curiosity of many a passerby, I decided to try and empirically find out if this summer sunday's heat was able to provoke a Great Johnny Hallyday Meltdown ...



After four hours of Viroflay sun Johnny's wobbler had curved quite a bit, but refused to give in completely. Yet.


Shortly after 19h I was on a train heading back into Paris, hurrying over to Les Combustibles near the Gare de Lyon to participate in another one of the Rhinoceros's monthly laboratories of strange musix over there.

Aux Combustibles it was the second time in just little more than a week that I witnessed a manager of a Parisian café/bar/restaurant, who had given free access to his cellar space for the organization of a series of noisy and obscure underground music events, throwing a tantrum in view of the public turnout. It happened at the Chiquito bar in Belleville on friday June 19th, during Anton Mobin's fourth 'Tales for Tapes' event, with performances of Rébus, the noisy dark drone duo Nox Factio (Elise Vandewalle & Andres Ramirez) and a trio performance of Rinus van Alebeek with Gabriela Vaskova and Anton Mobin. Even though attendance at Le Chiquito wasn't that disastrous, really, the patron probably saw one too many of us sneaking in their own beers and far too few buying their drinks upstairs at his counter.

It was far worse that sunday evening at Les Combustibles, even taking into account other Parisian events and the world cup soccer match between Argentina and Mexico on television. When I descended into the concert down-space with my shopping cart full of pièces détachées, I bumped into a wall of screams and electronic noise spewed out by a duo called FIFA, erected inside a basement that was eerily void, except for a couple of musicians hanging at the bar with a lady of Russian origin who had begun downing glasses of white wine in numbers soon to largely exceed Portugal's score in their world cup match against North Korea on June 21st.

There is no doubt though that Jean-Marc Montarou's series of spotlights on ... ok, let's use the word: ... experimental audio(visual) expressions takes place under pretty much optimal conditions. It allows for a fixed point on your agenda (every last sunday of the month), there's flyers, spam, buzz and publicity going out through all the 'usual' channels, entrance is free, it is happening at a central location in Paris, there's a staffed and well-equipped bar, a fine sound and projection system with a professional engineer handling the technical side, it's in the basement of a restaurant that serves a pretty decent pasta... The Rhinoceros's Laboratories have everything going for them.

Except, that is, some sort of an audience.

It was the second time that I performed at the Rhinoceros's monthly party. Earlier this year, in january, I did a synth/guitar duo with Anthony Carcone. That was pretty good. And there even was some public. This time our trio (with Jacques Fochsia on tubes radio, Anthony Carcone on electric guitar and myself on pièces détachées) was even better. With a temperature and spirit inversely proportional to attendance (which, as said, got dangerously close to nil ) we were 'ot enough to melt down Johnny anytime. From the corners of my eyes I saw black slime oozing from the bottom of my orange shopping cart, standing lonely against one the of Combustibles' cellar's bare walls...

Now all of that is food for thought, of course. How was it again, with the wood and that tree falling? Can there even be music when there's nobody out there to listen?

(h)art photo

[ This portrait of yours truly was shot by Jean-Pierre Stoop in the courtyard of the Ateliers Claus' offices at the Place van Meenen in Saint-Gilles, Brussels, on May 7th, 2010, while I was being interviewed by Jozefien van Beek. The interview appeared in print in issue #67 (June 3rd, 2010) of (h)ART (www.kunsthart.org), a Flemish magazine on contemporary art in Belgium and surroundings, as part of Jozefien's series of articles on music and the visual arts. In the interview I say a lot of interesting things about A Table!'s Spoerri project, about finding and restoring tapes, about the ookoi, and about closing the gap between music, sound and the visual arts. All of it in Flemish :-) ... ]

tags: Johnny Hallyday, cassettes, Viroflay, Paris, Rhinoceros

# .377.

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