Echofluxx is, I think, unique in Czech festivals. It presents the very latest of the latest, which is naturally very risky. But without festivals like this, willing to ride the very edge of the edge, where would tomorrow’s music be?
Having traded a donation to the first Echofluxx festival for attending in person, Asymmetry decided in 2012 that it had had enough of selfless generosity and was going to go to the festival in person. Good decision. And while everyone was comparing the premiere festival with this one, naturally enough, I had only this one. And this one was one extravagantly entertaining festival, with live shows and installations, including one that became a part of a show as well, and several sets that were as interesting to look at as to listen to. There was even one, I hestitate to add, that was more interesting to look at….
In the lobby of the new Trafačka, there were several drying racks, which caught my attention right away, before any festival events occurred. Fun to listen to and fun to watch, as David Means would also find–later on featured in a group improv after the performance of David’s Prague Spirals.
After I tore myself away from the drying racks, I walked through the venue to give you an idea of the place and show you some of the installations. In one room, you can see Free Improv for Dying Radio, by Martin Blažíček, František Týmal, Kateřina Bílová, and Jiří Rouš; The Herz Clock, by Jiří Rouš; David Šmitmajer’s 129 x 94.5 x 6.5; František Týmal’s Unknown Threat (which you could hear booming throughout the whole building), and Anxiety by Kateřina Bílová.
The concerts got off to a good start with an interesting set by Lukasz Szalankiewicz–rich, various, and unexpected sounds with the actions that made them filmed from above and projected onto the wall behind him. Good stuff.
A set with Marcus Bergman and Marek Bouda also had a video, which looked at first as if it might also be a film of the live event, until you notice that the figure on the screen is not the guy you’re looking at on stage. Then, to keep blurring the edges of reality, there’s a dog in the video that looks as if it is reacting to the live events, which got a lot of laughs.
In the next two clips, the first one breaks off when the regular beat had begun to annoy me. The second one picks up after they’d broken out of the doldrums. Their video had changed by then, too, with sounds and images doing analogous things but not in synch. Nicely done.
The two films by Dan Senn were remarkably different from anything I had ever seen or heard from him. And though they both feature a dog barking in them, they are quite different from each other as well. Very enjoyable films, with a lot of humor and compelling images and equally compelling sounds. This is probably as good a time as any to mention that there are professional quality videos of Echofluxx12 on Dan Senn’s youtube channel if these amateurish snippets have whetted your appetite. There are some very good films on Vimeo of some Echofluxx sets as well.
In the next clip, composer, videographer, and festival organizer Dan Senn films the same installation I am filming, the one that was used later on in a set.
I don’t usually publish entire sets, but David Means very graciously gave me permission to use all of this. It was quite a fascinating set, and changed a lot as it went on, so I’m glad I didn’t have to try to pull out only a bit of it to give you a taste.
Visually, Michal Rataj’s Silence Talks reminds one of Berio’s Sequenza. Aurally, Michal Rataj’s Silence Talks sounds nothing like any Sequenza I’ve ever heard. (I think I’ve heard them all.) It uses warmer sounds for one, and the musical logic is closer to repetition minimalism. And it has electronics going on with it, too.
And speaking of visually, I couldn’t help thinking that the activity at the overhead projector in the Kaufmann, Topolski, Lee set was more interesting than what was projected on the wall. That was interesting, too, but the items being used and the process of using them was more compelling to watch. And, unfortunately, distracting from the music! As I listen to the clip (without watching it), I’m aware of how much I missed of the live show, embarrassingly enough.
I am a big fan of the double bass and have many favorite players. Now I have another one. This was definitely a high point in a festival full of fine things. I got a little carried away with some extraneous visual effects while filming this. I hope that doesn’t distract too much from the fine bass playing. Some of the finest I’ve ever heard, anyway.
Michael Cimala’s set eventually got into a groove that eventually had me tuning out. But what a splendid looking creature that instrument is. And some really gorgeous sounds it make, too, especially if one leaves it alone to make them without forcing them into patterns. It’s an occupational hazard, I know, and I sympathize. But I found myself really wanting to hear what this beauty could do, not just what it could be made to do.
A fine festival, all told, and well worth the risk. I am looking forward keenly to the next edgy Echofluxx.