Wednesday 12 September 2012

Review: Silver Apples, Black Dice and MV&EE

What a line-up! I expected Festsaal Kreuzberg to be totally packed for this show. In the end it wasn't but the concert was incredible anyway.

First up were MV&EE. They hadn't really been on my radar before, even though they have released several records on noteworthy labels such as Ecstatic Peace and Woodsist. They played on the ground in front of the stage literally in a bunch of equipment, instruments and their own PA. Also there was some nice live visual art done with the help of two overhead projectors, coloured pieces of plastic foil and several lamps. The visuals fitted the music pretty well and added nicely to the atmosphere MV&EE created. They played dreamy psychedelic and experimental folk music that sounded like something between a camp fire experience on heavy drugs and a soundtrack to a desert road movie. I didn't watch their whole set because I wasn't really in the mood for something like that but I didn't dislike what they did either. Maybe I should give them another try at home.

After getting some fresh air I went in again and Black Dice finally claimed the stage. They have existed since 1997 and their musical style has undergone some significant changes since then. Nowadays they're a three piece and release their records on Paw Tracks and DFA instead of Gravity and 31G. Nonetheless their output has been consistently good and highly interesting throughout their career and, the latest since their release of Beaches & Canyons in 2002, they are an important and driving force in the field of independent experimental electronic music. 

They play totally awesome, sick and weird beats and their mostly instrumental music is sort of on the edge between dancy and crazy. Sometimes it's like a catchier version of Autechre, sometimes it sounds like a damaged version of experimental hip hop. Everything about them is constantly in motion, there are no smooth transitions and there are no hooklines that you could grasp; they always change everything and break down every structure, melody and beat just to create a new one. They seem to be influenced by so many different kinds of music that you're able to hear pieces of tribal rhythms mixed with contemporary breakcore and skwee stuff. Also, their past as a 'guitar band' obviously left an impression, since they still use a guitar live and on record. I was so deeply impressed by how good they were that I have not got a single thing to complain about. Neither did the rest of the audience, dancing wildly and applauding the band enthusiastically.

Silver Apples, of which there now is just one Silver Apple left actually, had a lot to live up to seeing as they had to play after Black Dice. Having a completely different approach and stage presence, he did manage to make this cool though. Silver Apples originally were a psychedelic electronic duo from New York. They released two seriously amazing records in 1968 and 1969, then split up, somehow reunited in the mid 90s and by now it's just single member Simeon playing live. On their old records, Silver Apples sound like Krautrock mixed together with very early analog synth electro music, creating stunning psychedelic experimental stuff. Given the times when they released those records back then, what they were doing was quite innovative and, considering the fact that these records are now over 40 years old, I was surprised by how modern and contemporary everything sounded live. 

It was pretty cool to have the direct comparison of a great "new" band like Black Dice playing directly before an "old" band and that pretty much showed where Black Dice's inspirations may just come from.

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