Sunday 27 January 2013

Review: B/B/S

I don't know why, but January is very slow concert-wise. There was only one gig I was really looking forward to see. B/B/S at Monarch last Wednesday. B/B/S is a kind of a new trio of Berlin based expats, consisting of Canadian Aidan Baker, Italian Andrea Belfi and Norwegian Erik Skodvin. If you recognise these names you will probably know what to expect, if you don't know them I'll shortly tell you who they are. Well, all three are well known in the field of experimental music. Aidan Baker plays his drony guitar in Nadja and solo and you might have read about him a couple of times on our little blog. Andrea Belfi is mostly an experimental drummer, but also an electro-acoustic musican and composer who, for instance, played with David Grubbs or Stefano Pilia. The last one is Erik Skodvin, who plays from time to time under his moniker Svarte Greiner and is also part of Deaf Center. Both musical projects are subsumable under the term dark ambient. So, they are not the new neo-folk ensemble, instead they formed the most exciting trio in experimental and improvised music I know.

Everything started around a year ago when these 3 guys played together for the first time as a supporting act for A-Sun Amissa at West Germany. It was such cool performance that they decided to continue their work. Some shows were played and an album recorded. Last Wednesday's performance was originally planned as a record release party, but unfortunately Brick Mask wasn't ready on time.

Nevertheless, they played, in fact, two long sets. The first one started with a bowing ritual. A dark and droning tone appeared and Monarch's packed audience freezed. As Baker and Skodvin are rooted in doomy and dark music, distorted guitars are nothing uncommon. It was mostly drummer Belfi who set the tone. In the beginning more abradant and then more and more jazzy. The whole first set felt like the score to an unknown road movie by Wim Wenders and David Lynch. Scary, dusty, brutal and also tenacious.

The second set started louder and way more rock-like. Shorter than the first one but still intoxicating. For me, who is not a musician, I find it very interesting how they set the mood for their compositions. As Erik told me before, they did not have the time to rehearse, so everything was mostly improvised and it's unbelievable how good it sounded. All three gave each other enough space to develope an extraordinary unique style. In the end, Monarch's chatty bar crowd was getting louder and louder and it felt like it was part of the sound experience.

Too bad their debut record was not available this evening; I guess they could have sold a few of them. But I think everyone in the audience went home very satisfied, with or without Brick Mask. I did.

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