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Archive for March, 2009

‘Don’t Look Now’ – Broadcast live soundtrack improv at Shunt Lounge, London

bcastshunt

Tonight Trunk Records and Ghost Box got together and took over the Shunt Lounge to throw a party.  Shunt proved to be the perfectly disorientating setting for the strange esoteric films and music being shown during the evening.

After leaving the outside world behind in London Bridge Tube station, and following the echoing sounds into the heart of the somehow very British brick vaults, I was greeted by the sound of ‘Tanzmusik’ from Ralf & Florian blasting out to accompany a quick drink.  That was as sweet a moment as you can expect to have thirty seconds into arriving at any venue.  After a little milling around, it came to light that there was a screening room set up showing back-to-back TV drama & public information films, which ranged from really quite sublimely beautiful, to funny, unsettling & scary, all the way to pretty silly – sometimes within the space of a minute or so of one film!

Disorientation seemed to be the order of the night, as a strange mixture of squat party, ancient castle, and underground cult youth club started to set in as the place filled up, sonics from the films and DJ sets spilling forth into the jet black corners.

Back in the screening room, as a film came to a close, in (un)matching red and blue anoraks, James Cargill and Trish Keenan (Broadcast) took to the stage to perform a live soundtrack to Julian House’s short film.  Eager fans squeezed in to find a spot as the electronics began to whir around the space & the video sprang into motion.  The first live performance in London by Broadcast for quite some time was pretty special. See/hear for yourself:

‘vroosh, clink, shiiingg’ – Peanut Butter Wolf AV set at Stones Throw Euro tour, Cargo, London

pbwcargo

LA’s Stones Throw are in the midst of a European tour, taking in a decently large chunk of Europe in a short space of time.  The tour features Mayer Hawthorne, James Pants & Dam-Funk.  Perhaps predictably though, the real magic of the night came courtesy of  Stones Throw label founder Chris Manak, better known as Peanut Butter Wolf.

What was billed as an AV set, in this context brought to mind some guy scratching with some ‘vroosh, clink, shiiingg’ kung fu video footage, or Hanna Barbera cartoons.  Nothing wrong with that I suppose, but nothing that right about it either.

Luckily, what he did wasn’t so much cluttered with such ‘classic’ AV staples as it was cluttered with classic music.  A complete wall-to-wall clutter of it.  The set kicked off with topical concert footage of Michael Jackson at the height of his megastardom – visions of screaming, hysterical crowds anticipating the arrival of the King of Pop on stage.  Then it began.

Peanut Butter Wolf proceeded to simultaneously take the crowd on a proper party music enthusiasts’ history lesson, whilst making a little proposition about the present.  Kraftwerk, Rakim, Peaches, Frank Zappa, Thin Lizzie, Bel Biv Devoe, Innercity (yup – ‘Good Life’), Wu Tang, Gun, Level 42, Chico Buarque, Luther Vandross, Frankie Knuckles, Mos Def, Prince, Diana Ross… all super-loud, perfectly mixed & combined with the novelty of seeing the videos at the same time – in a club.

Despite the lazy catch-all descriptors ‘urban’, ‘futuristic’ and ‘hi-tech’ seeming apparent, there was something really satisfyingly comfy & displaced domestic about the thing.  I guess dancing to a music video is something that will tend to happen on a sofa. But it was there with the show & tell music selection as well.  It really felt like a summer afternoon hanging with an excited record-collector buddy with a slightly better memory & a much better collection than you, just going, “remember this, and this, and THIS!”. Except trade the shelves full of records with that VHS-misty collective memory of classic videos and live performance footage that nowadays lives in Youtube rather than on 3am MTV.  

The actual method is quite simple to describe & is probably what you’re already imagining.  It was ‘just’ a DJ set, but where the records were projected videos coming from a Serato setup or something.  Nothing more, nothing less.  So although you may now be calling for a smidgen of the Hanna Barbera footage, or maybe a teeny bit of Travis Bickle in front of the mirror or something, the simplicity of Manak’s approach is what allowed the videos and songs to really shine.  PBW took the role of selector, and kept his interventions to a minimum, limiting it to the occasional scratch or beat juggle.  A wise choice given the fact that these things can often end up being overly focused on ‘skills’ – tempting when faced with new technology.

By the end of his mammoth (hour and a half?) show, every single track as it slowly crept in was greeted by a wholehearted cheer of approval from the sweaty, appreciative crowd.  Self-conscious head nodding replaced with all out party boogie.  Temporarily fading down a clip of Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch, Peanut Butter Wolf looked at the screen & decried the closed-mindedness of the ‘real hip-hop’ argument with a “hip-hop’s in everything people… the punch bag’s hip-hop”. As Wahlberg continued the pictured Rocky-style workout, Manak faded the tune back in over the rising cheers, and proceeded to carefully Derren Brown the crowd into working the dark inside of Cargo’s cavernous arches like an outdoor street party.

If you are currently residing in a city the tour is yet to reach, I seriously recommend you make it down for this set alone.  Remaining dates below..

 

Stones Throw Europe Tour 2009

Thr, 12 Mar / Zurich, Switzerland @ Rote Fabrik
Fri, 13 Mar / Lyon, France @ La Plateforme
Sat, 14 Mar / Lausanne, Switzerland @ Le Romandie 
Sun, 15 Mar / Vienna, Austria @ B72
Tue, 17 Mar / Cologne, Germany @ Luxor
Wed, 18 Mar / Copenhagen, Denmark @ Rust
Thr, 19 Mar / Leipzig, Germany @ Conne Island
Fri, 20 Mar / Stockholm, Sweden @ Hornstall Strand
Sat, 21 Mar / Madrid, Spain @ Sala Caracol

Stones Throw

Peanut Butter Wolf