- Colin Eccleston
Le Jardin Kazimies is full of Francophones, presumably in support of two of tonight’s three performers. A curious episode takes place beforehand: in front of the grilles that hide the speakers embedded in the wall, a little girl stares ahead, leans in towards the panel as if psyching herself up to cross a portal into another plane. She needn’t: the next few hours’ music travels far and wide.
ARBRE (Adrian Riffo) plays his guitar like a piano. Not every chord lands, not every string sounds, but overall there’s the impression of a guy wrestling with his instrument, really exploring its possibilities (largely acoustic – we’re talking wood and steel), but the payoff is…to call it ‘listenability’ is a bit crass, but Riffo treads a tuneful rope with the depths of noise on either side. Hare-brained symphony with electronics Fun begins like Mozart and reaches the end via Appalachian folk-picking, and it’s a shame that none of this material is available online, because Visions From The Middle Of The Desert is a remarkable trip in at least three speeds that needs to be heard to be believed.
COLIN ECCLESTON wears a ruff and a Blue Peter Badge, sings songs about French gorillas, and the inventor of the sausage-meat mincer, and accompanies himself on the banjulele. From that description, you’ll probably guess whether he’s worth your time or not. Like Gilbert & Sullivan, it depends on your tolerance for (being kind) absurdism and (being cruel) whimsy. It’s really clever songwriting with a Marmite aesthetic, best summed up by what happens during the song about his guinea pig. Songs with whistling are like bright colours in nature: a warning to steer clear. But when the fit of giggles running through Eccleston’s whole set overcomes his composure, after about the second refrain, he’s reduced to announcing the “whistling part” when it comes, and the guitar accompanies a room full of people whistling their own tune (none, unfortunately, the Blue Peter theme). It’s endearing, and a turning point in the set.
At first glance, L’OCELLE MARE (Thomas Bonvalet) is just a man sitting in the corner of the lodge. But the ocean of sound he emits cannot be a solo effort. Eyes shut, mouth open, he’s like a blind seer in a world of his own, full of noises – the backchat of his six-string banjo, the pounding of blood in his ears that we’re privileged to hear. It hurts to listen to these bells and reeds, but we can’t help but listen. He is a gurning shaman whose whole body literally gives off rhythm. The lights are turned down, and to Bonvalet’s left is the shadow of one of his boots, a massive four-foot-high foot projected onto the wall and stamping away. By the fourth or fifth number, the wood of the surrounding structure shakes, the lighting is lowered further, and it’s like being in the womb. It’s a unique start to what will hopefully be a series of gigs in the Kazimier Cosmolodge.
Stuart Miles O’Hara / @ohasm1