Out of Tunes
Acolytes acronym it IDM, short for Intelligent Dance Music—a contentious term for electronica that refuses the dance floor’s frenzy in favor of stay-at-home contemplation. Weird, then, to see the IDM massive at the Bowery Ballroom collectively shaking booty to their dream-team double bill of Mike “µ-ziq” Paradinas and Luke “Wagon Christ/Plug” Vibert. It’s a so-where-now? kind of moment for IDM’s first wave. With Mike and Luke’s mutual friends Richard James and Squarepusher missing in action, the genre’s sole contender for “that next shit” is “glitch”—snap-crackle-popping noisescapes assembled out of digital distortion. Taking the scene’s antipop impulse to its logical extension, glitch dispenses not just with the groove but with melody too. And melody—chipper, wistful, glum—has always been IDM’s saving grace, what seduced the Smog and GBV fans.
Luke Vibert doesn’t seem too worried about IDM’s impasse, though. Trading shy smiles with his new jam buddy B.J. Cole, toking on a long spliff, and sporting a beard resinous enough to keep Cypress Hill happy for a weekend, Luke looks quite the mellow muso. Stop the Panic, the first fruit of their partnership, initially feels a bit diffuse, but rapidly reveals itself to be “different and holding” (as the NYT‘s movies-on-TV reviewer might put it), with a mood of sacred whimsy not far behind Wagon Christ’s sublime Throbbing Pouch. Live it’s even more enchanting. Alternately recalling King Sunny Ade and a Hawaiian Jerry Garcia, Cole plays his steel guitar like he’s embroidering with light, deftly weaving its lustrous filigree through Vibert’s it’s-as-if-ambient-jungle-never-died breakbeats.
Like IDM itself, Mike Paradinas’s gift and curse is melody. Unlike laidback Luke, though, he’s reacted violently against the prettiness of his own back catalog. Tonight there are a few excursions into densely orchestrated synth- symphonics, but mostly Mr. µ-ziq rampages thrillingly across the spectrum of hardcore barbarianism: acrid Ram Trilogy-style drum’n’bass, mash-ups of old skool rave and turntablism (slightly disconcerting to hear with no decks onstage), even 250 bpm gabber blitzkriegs. The crowd goes apeshit, goaded by Paradinas’s exhortations—”all my IDM niggas, wild out” and “tear up tha club, thugz.” If it’s a suspiciously well-made insanity, a marauding monster of sound without a hair or hi-hat out of place, well, you can hardly expect a doyen of IDM to fully jettison his head. —Simon Reynolds
Down in the Delta
“Ever been in love?” Gregg Foreman, Delta 72’s vocalist/guitarist/elegant soul-waif, drawled. “Then you’ve been in love with the wrong motherfucker, otherwise you’d still be in love.” “Amen!” one congregant testified. Foreman put on one of those oversized Superfly pincushion hats, flattening the rooster hair-thing he had going on. “This is a funk in ‘E,’ ” he said looking down at his guitar with an “I’m gonna spank yo’ ass”/”I think that milk was sour” grimace, before picking out the interlocking notes that ignite “3 Day Packet Plan,” off the Philly quartet’s (though live they’re a quintet) latest, 000 (due out April 4). From thin air the band lunged for the groove’s throat. And once they got to the jam’s final cadence, they dug their nails into it . . . Do Do Do To Do-Do, Do Do Do To Do-Do . . . over and over and over and over again, locking down on it till they choked every breath of soul from it.
Four things were clear at the Knitting Factory’s Friday-night services, also led by the ever exuberant Mooney Suzuki and the fake-ass, junkie-languor combo Grand Mal (that’s putting it warmly). First, Foreman was wrong when he said at the start, “Do you want to get funky? You picked the wrong club; we’re really white.” Though he looked like a Faces-era Rod Stewart, the Delta 72 frontdaddy moved like T-Bone Walker, collapsing his rail-thin body into the splits, and dueled tight-but-loose guitar à la Jimmy Nolen (the James Brown mainstay) with the band’s auxiliary axman. Second, Delta 72 should have named their latest record The Soul of a New Machine instead of the previous one. Besides having a fresh, key-swatting organist, this new machine had a refined, chicken-neck swagger, similar in vibe to “The Cut” (off New Machine, which they did play). The slash-and-burn tendencies of yore had been sublimated into ominously churning viscera. Now, third, people shouldn’t do that look-I-have-no-neck shoulder-twitch dance. Fourth, if you think you did a “pretty good fuckin’ show,” don’t encore with follow-my-hands versions of show tunes and assorted blues standards. —Lorne Behrman
“This is my kind of concert,” remarked Kronos Quartet founder David Harrington Saturday night during the World Music Institute’s 15th-anniversary benefit show at Town Hall. Easy for him to say (though I’d second the sentiment): Harrington served as both the evening’s music director and its MC, which means he helped shuffle a virtual United Nations’ worth of musicians into a series of boundary-crossing collaborations it’s practically guaranteed have never been tried before.
Take the evening’s openers, Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man and Ugandan multi-instrumentalist James Makubuya. Using harmonics, distortion, bent strings, and hyperspeed finger picking, Wu played the four-string lute like an inspired jazz-rock guitarist. Turns out the pipa is tuned exactly like Makubuya’s ndongo, an eight-string bowl lyre, and their impromptu duet sounded fusion fresh. The evening’s most elaborate and unexpectedly powerful collaboration, however, consisted of Iranian kamancheh (spike fiddle) player Kayhan Kalhor, postklezmer clarinetist Andy Statman, South Indian ghatam (clay pot) percussionist T.H. “Vikku” Vinayakram, and Japanese cellist Kristina Reiko Cooper. Apart from the beautiful novelty of hearing a Muslim jamming with an Orthodox Jew, the quartet expanded upon the Persia-India confluence Kalhor has been exploring in his Silk Road albums, with Statman adding Eastern European swing to the concoction.
Moroccan gnawa singer Hassan Hakmoun, Azerbaijani pianist Franghiz Ali-Zadeah, Palestinian ‘udist Simon Shaheen, frame drummer Glen Velez, and others mixed and matched up during the course of the evening, which concluded with Shaheen’s “Sultana,” an Arab-tinged anthem played by eight musicians of nearly as many nationalities. The concert was dedicated to the memory of Ustad Alla Rakha, who died February 3 (Vinayakram was filling in for Rakha’s son, Zakir Hussain). Insofar as Rakha was the tabla player most responsible for introducing the instrument to the Western world, the dedication couldn’t have been more apt. —Richard Gehr