august 04, 2012.
La Main Jaune, near the Porte de Champerret in Paris 17th arrondissement, used to be Europe's first Roller Disco. It opened in 1980: a vast space underground, right below the square de l’Amérique Latine on the border of the périphérique. But that's all history, for the Main Jaune stopped rolling already some ten years ago. The still fully equipped & roller-disco-decorated 1500 m2 space, including giant mirrors and mirror balls, lay abandoned until, about a year ago, it was squatted by a group of young Parisian artists.
The perpetual & nomadic international headphone festival anno 2012 may have lost some of its 'novelty & cutting edge' attraction, and maybe it indeed could do with a bit of a technical and conceptual 'upgrade'. On the other hand, I also like the stubbornness with which Erik continues his long runnig project in the original no-budget/lo-technics DIY way. It works; and remains among the best and certainly the sweetest laboratory for live sonic experimentation in Paris that I know.
Rébus, for example, took the opportunity of this year's Parisian Placard for two fine sound fooding performances; one at its very beginning, and one at its very end.
I decided early on to book a 30 minutes slot for each of the three festival's evenings (each from 20h till 20h30), and a one hour slot on the monday morning, and programmed my slots sort of as a little festival within the festival, as a (tongue-in-cheek) retrospective of recent Har$ work. The 'Har$ sub-Placard' kicked off at La Main Jaune, with a 'Seventy Seconds Mega Mix', in which (following a fixed order of the 52 weeks, that I randomly generated shortly before the performance) I played & manipulated the 52 weeks tracks of my last year's 10-secs-a-day audio diary with the iPad djay application.
For a collection of digital (field) recordings, the djay app used in performance is pretty much equivalent to having two dictaphones/cassette players and a box of cassette tapes. (Now that might be considered a blasphemy by analog and/or cassette tape fetishists, as opposed to just 'users'; but, I think, it is a good thing to blaspheme :). The app asks for more or less the same types of manipulations as do the cassette players. It also provides the performer with more or less the same possibilities, including obvious equivalents of the fast forward/rewind 'scratch' and the 'repeat'. The app moreover does not really provide you with much more than these ( * ). It took me a little to get used to, but I absolutely love it.
On Saturday morning the Placard moved to La Générale. First to the 'Sèvres department', for a short six hour session, starting at noon. Then, as of 18h, the playing continued at La Générale Nord-Est on the avenue Parmentier, for another 18 hours.
The 2012 Placard's secret theme was post-nuclearity, as, besides the endless hours of post-experimental music, Erik showed at each of the Placard's locations, in a continuous stream, a fabulous collection of post-apocalyptic movies, which you find listed here.
The material for my set at the Nord-Est Générale were the daily recordings of my ongoing Audio Diary 2012 tumblr. I played and manipulated a selection of the recordings, again with the iPad's djay app, but now at the same time used the iPad's output to trigger my Korg MS20, in order to provide an electronic layer that - in varying degrees - would be iso-form to the diary recordings envelopes. Here's a picture of the set-up:
[ As this SB-entry's podcast, you can listen to and/or download the full recording of my Générale Placard XV set in the embedded player below, or directly at Soundcloud.
"If you come and get it, you can have it..." ]
Later that evening, somewhere around La Générale's bar, a girl that had heard the full piece through headphones, assured me that, even though she was not in the habit of listening to 'experimental music, it had given her nothing short of a blissful experience. She then unfolded a quite intricate theory, that unfortunately I am not able to reproduce in all of its fascinating details, on how this was brought about by the alternating saturation and de-saturation of her brain's synapses, like an ocean's waves hitting the shore. So, there you go.
A lot of fine performances that evening and night at La Générale, even though - because of fulfilling my part of the evening's bar service, but also because of the limited number of headsets - I managed to really hear but about half of them. Like Anton Mobin's fine Tale for Three Tapes, at about 4 o'clock that Sunday morning, and the five or six sets that followed, seated and intermittently zizzing off in one of the Générale's pretty comfortable chairs. By the time (it must have been around seven in the morning) that Blenno und die Wurstbrücke came to the end of an exotic and hypnotic dance around a number of malfunctioning modified record players, I had reached a stage of enlightenment not unlike the one due to on-rolling waves of synapse saturation, evoked by that sweet girl earlier that evening...
For its final 30 hours, the 15th Grand Placard moved on to yet another surprising Parisian countercultural hangout: the Laboratoire XP, the Gare Expérimentale, or whatever it is called, near the Cité Universitaire in the 14th arrondissement. With its two small, placard-like rooms, XP accounted for the most intimate of this year's Placard experiences, and therefore, arguably the most authentic one.
There, on Sunday evening, again around 20h, from inside the dark back room that also served for the showing of Erik's post-apocalyptic movies, I played Viva la Vuvuzela, being the final 30 minutes of my Final Soundtrack mixed with a 30 minute timestretch of the 3+ minutes Placard audio snapshot that can be found as the July 29th entry of my 2012 Audio Diary.
For the fourth and last part of my sub-Placard, I wanted to play (early Monday morning, starting at about 10h) Paris by Numbers (the Paris numberscape that I recorded on June 29th for ResonanceFM) as a quiet and gentle wake-up call. But I have to confess that I didn't make it to the Placard that Monday morning, so the final part of my this year's contribution will remain merely conceptual.
But of course I was there again at the end of the afternoon, when Rébus - even more correct conceptually - ended this year's grand Parisian Placard the way he had started it 72 hours earlier: with a fine session of sound fooding cum aperitif.
Those of you that would like to know more precisely, what that is all about, will surely find the July 30th Audio Diary 2012 entry to be a fascinating primer.
notes __ ::
(*) This of course does not mean there is no difference. Obviously the sonic texture of a digital file remains very different from that of a cassette tape. Also, one of my favorite cassette manipulations (which, however, is only available on a limited number of dictaphone types) does not have an obvious equivalent in the djay app: that's the 'side switching', provided by cassette players that come with an 'auto-reverse' switch, and that I use(d) extensively in my 'sudoku' series. The remarkable thing about the 'auto-reverse' of course being, that it provides a one-to-one correspondence between two audio files, the one on the A-side and the one on the B-side of the tape. When using the switch, the 'start' moment of file B is uniquely determined by the 'stop' moment of file A, and vice versa. [ ^ ]
tags: placard, paris, cassette, djay, sound fooding, la générale, la main jaune, gare expérimentale, post-experimental, post-nuclear
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