Seijiro Murayama, Jean-Luc Guionnet and a cast of hipsters - 05/06/09, Bar en Boos, Leiden
Now watching a small, nondescript, ageing Japanese gentleman hit a small drum with a brush and a pompom for a good half an hour (to the accompaniment of an atonal, blurping sax) would not grab most people as a worthwhile entertainment, I admit.
But hey, this ain’t no ornery Japanese drummer, no siree, this be Seijiro Murayama famed through his role in Absoulut Nullpunkt and Keiji Heino, not to mention ventures with Fred Frith & Tom Cora. And Incendiary hotfooted it down to the venue to catch this, and other Dutch Underground wonders (including members of the fabulous uw hypotheekadvies and Julie Mittens, as well as Roy Santiago and Danielle Liebeskind), who (so the promo promised) would perform free-form, acid style jams. Yowsa!
As usual the Bar en Boos was its charmingly dilapidated self, (though the days when pissing in the canal seemed the healthier alternative to the unisex toilet have long gone). A couple of beers in and the programme began with the first jam; Danielle Liebeskind and ‘hypotheeker Martin Luiten, who created a quiet, short, two guitar soundscape, based round Liebeskind’s stream of consciousness mumblings. All too quickly it was over, and Julie Mittens’ Aart-Jan & Leon began their drum versus electronic pedals battle. Taking into consideration the fact that these two have played so long together, calling their set an improvised wig-out seemed to be taking the biscuit, but in effect it was. Leon is a surprisingly jazzy drummer for a free-rock power trio, one who patters around the dense sound the Mittens normally make. With just Aart-Jan creating a monolithic racket on pedals, Leon’s drumming was vital in holding the set together, and with a great deal of wit and quick thinking he did. This was a marvellous gig, maybe they should open up for the Mittens proper some time.
Following this came Roy Santiago with uw hypotheekers, Dries Mellink en Martin Luiten to play a first gig (the band had a name too, and I’ve forgotten it) which was classic power-rock trio stuff, heading towards Guru Guru territory at times. I’m looking forward to hear future developments, what is it with brilliant new power-rock trios in Holland at the moment? First Accadians, now this.
After all that noise the real storm. As I hinted at earlier, nothing looked less appetising as a headliner than an ageing Japanese gentleman tapping a solitary drum, sat beside a sax player who looked less than salubrious, making intermittent squeaking noises. But for half an hour the room was transfixed, with people not even daring to break the spell by popping out to the John. The sense of drama was overpowering, Marayama lending an almost shocking sense of decision to each action he took. The art was in the moment, - actually, no; the art was the moment. And there was nothing for the audience to hold on to, nothing to mentally calculate with.
It was as if this violent, sensual approach to making music had made the way we all viewed a gig completely redundant. And the sax’s suggestiveness (which gave us a slender branch to hold on to) dovetailed with this approach beautifully. Sometimes the brush was used to create a soothing textural backdrop to quizzical sax notes; sometimes there was an all out attack, using the handle of the pompom stick. One memorable point saw Murayama go ballistic, his whole frame shaking as he rapped out a frenzied, (but utterly controlled) rhythmic assault.
Soon there was silence, and frenzied if ever so slightly relieved applause, and to a person, the audience sought relief in the Jakes or at the bar.
Catch him if you can, I promise you won’t forget it.
Words: Richard Foster