Wednesday, February 20, 2008
[J’avais envie d’une autre vie, d’une étincelle tu es venu.]
Got along to Calmer yesterday evening at Cheltenham’s Slak Bar. Before reappearing last Autumn, Calmer had had a long hiatus for most of the year, and I’ve somehow not really caught back up with it. So I was glad to be able to get over this time and see Bristol’s Safetyword and French duo Vialka.
Safetyword announced themselves as being from Bristol but a read through the info on their website tells you they’re actually all from the Isle of Man. They played a fast tight set which was all rhythm changes and sharp electric guitars. I enjoyed them but their set seemed to swing from excitement to confusion a little too often. I must be getting old (well…). Thankfully the sun broke through the clouds pretty regularly and there were some great Beefheart-ish, Battles-y tracks coupled with some endearingly eccentric vocals.
Their site is worth a visit, not least because they’ve been more than a little generous with the downloads they’ve made available there – two whole EPs as far as I can tell. They’re well worth a listen, I’d say, as will be there album “Man’s Name is Legion”. I’ll put a couple up here, and the rest are available here.
There were a few of the same elements in the Vialka set – the frenetic guitar work, the bewildering rhythm changes, the different song phases. But they were, in all honesty, far more exciting and altogether more of a spectacle. Guitarist Eric Boros skipped up and down this fret board energetically and showed a fondness for British post-punk and Zimbabwean jit, in equal measures. The real star, though, was percussionist Marylisse Frechville, who battered away deftly on her kit and on a child’s xylophone, whilst singing (well, yodelling) in French. And as if that wasn’t enough, at certain points she came out from behind her kit and danced or sang unaccompanied in front of the tables of the Slak audience.
She was wild. And not a little disturbing, an impression not entirely dispelled by her dress, her mannerisms or by the swimming cap she was wearing to which she’d taped her mic.
It was clear to me that Vialka are using a tradition of European music that I just don’t know enough about to be able to write about without making myself look foolish. But it was all refreshingly different and terrific entertainment. They went down really well with the rest of the Calmer audience and deserved the calls for more that I could still hear as I nipped off to catch my bus.
Vialka are in the middle of a bit of a monster tour, playing in Bristol in a couple of days, amongst other places, before doing what seems like a load of dates in China and then Australia. The world is clearly a small place to Vialka.
The Vialka site also makes available a lavish collection of tracks for you to download, and I’ll put a couple of my favourites here. But inevitably they don’t really do justice to the live performance. I’m afraid I can’t even find a particularly good YouTube clip to attach.
But you’ve still got time to catch them in Bristol…
Village Mentality Part Two
Posted by Sweeny at 9:14 PM