In the Crowd: Francisco López
Francisco López, Carlos Giffoni, Wapstan, Sala Rossa
August 19th 2005
Once upon a time, when I was shoulder-deep into metal of the most violent kind, my friends and I had a name for everything electronic: bleeps 'n shit. At that point anybody using electronics was bleeps 'n shit and nothing but the old rock configuration (guitar, bass, drum and vocals) was considered real music. Then I received a record by one Cold Meat Industries label, and the project was Brighter Death Now, and it blew my tiny little headbanger's head to bits. This thing was heavier and more violent than anything I was listening to and it was all made with tape loops and distortion. Soon I was experiencing a whole new kind of bleeps 'n shit: noise.
Since then I cannot say that I have been the biggest noise fan in the world, I do have some essentials and believe I have a pretty good understanding of what is going on. Then again, I really can't draw dozens of influences to compare bands, like I can with rock and metal, but I surely enjoy the music from time to time and I absolutely love to go to noise shows. Noise shows, like improv and jazz shows, have this absolute certainty that other shows don't: it won't happen again just like this. Rock bands work like crazy to get their songs to sound exactly the same every time out, noise artists are in a whole different ballgame.
Perhaps similar thinking makes noise artists release music as much as they do (typically two or three times a year at least) that they must document everything that they do because it will never get as good as it is in the moment they do it. This is why it is so frustrating, and fun at the same time, to follow these bands, with all the limited editions, weird packaging and personal touches.
So on this rainy night, I hoped on the motorcycle and braved the weather to go see Mr. Lopez, Giffoni and Sasseville filling my ears with the sounds of noise. Martin Sasseville of Wapstan began the night with a pretty short set consisting of one interesting piece and a slightly distorted Julien Clerc song played as is on the PA as he danced on stage. The performance was interesting with Sasseville clearly being into it, headbanging and jumping on his table/workspace. The dialogue he produced was very raw and fairly harsh, and with a very Massona feel to these ears. I would have liked to hear some more before expressing a real opinion but it certainly was a nice start to the evening.
Carlos Giffoni is one of those artists that really has become his own in the past few years with tons of touring, recording and collaborations. The man worked with pretty much everybody that is anybody in experimental and noise music in the US and he was about to show us why. And he did. On this night Giffoni did a set that encompass every noise and electronic styles I heard, except perhaps for the lack of beats. Once second he sounds like an old Kraftwerk record and the next like the different incarnations of Merzbow, CSSO, Massonna, IRM, Whitehouse, Sutcliff Jugend, you name it. For his half hour performance he took us through more moods than a ADD kid on a pills binge, and I loved every minute of it. I somehow lost track of the dialogue near the end of the set because the music was so busy and I was enjoying it on a much more visceral level than a logical level at that point but I am guessing this was the whole point.
Francisco López is a man that loves Quebec and particularly Montreal. Since 2000, he has performed 13 times in the city, in different functions, and still, people showed up for this show. Even more impressive is the fact that the show was publicized very little and no advanced tickets were sold yet most of the room was filled. That tells me two thing: either I am no « au fait » of López's popularity or he puts out a very, very good show. Either way, we were asked to leave the venue for a few minutes as they changed sitting arrangements to fit López's show. When we came back in the venue we saw chairs disposed in concentric circles around a centrally placed console and other electronics. The chairs were facing the opposite way of the console. Organizers distributed blindfolds to concert goers for an as yet unknown reason. Once everybody shuffled back inside López explained that the venue would be in the total dark but because of his equipment making quite a bit of light, the blindfolds were there to help the experience but were optional.
Being the good sport that I am, I obliged the artist and put the blindfold on and was about to be transport to a journey I am sure not to forget. To be completely honest I remember very little of the specifics because I was soon transported into López's bleak and beautiful world and I came out just as he stopped playing. His set was in quadraphonic so you were hearing things going on from all corners of the room as he eased you into this travel to a very dark place. This journey through sound, as he briefly mentioned in his intro, was totally amazing and I don't know what soul would not enjoy it, it was simply spectacular.
Francisco López's vision is clearly something to be experienced and I urge to go if he comes anywhere near your town. GO!
- Simon Thibaudeau | 2005-08-28
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