Charles Hayward, Sven-Åke Johansson and Weasel Walter represent percussive sub-current at Sonic Protest festival in Paris

 Capt 0195 1

Sonic Protest runs its core festival across various Parisian venues, but it also sends transmissions around the rest of France, staging satellite gigs in cities such as Marseille, Nantes, Lille and Bordeaux. The emphasis is on confrontational and/or challenging rock and/or electronics, but there is also much of interest for the more wayward jazz fan.

A noticeable sub-tendril was the appearance of three drummers with considerable jazz connections, even if they might often inhabit routes taken through other portals. Sticksmen from England, Sweden and the US were involved across three different evenings. Charles Hayward was a founding member of This Heat, one of the most visceral and innovative bands at the late-1970s intersection point of punk, dub, prog, noise and funk. Sven-Åke Johansson is a veteran free improviser, a founder member of the Globe Unity Orchestra. Weasel Walter spends much of his time at the extreme ends of rock, but has always nailed free jazz polyrhythms at the heart of his approach.

The cannily named This Is Not This Heat allows the trio's two surviving members to recall the old late-1970s repertoire with an expanded line-up that allows a fleshly recreation of the loop-piled, multi-instrumentalist overdubs of their original recordings. Most of the newer band's sonic gestures still lie at the dynamically potent points, but with this muscle-training tour in progress, and players who thrive on improvisation, unexpected moves are, paradoxically, expected. At the Centquatre arts centre Hayward mostly plays drums, in his avant-funk intensity, perhaps descended from John French and Jaki Liebezeit. Charles Bullen mostly plays guitar, his spiky, strafing style grown out of a punk/dub/funk collision that, in the late 1970s, was already predicting certain tendencies destined for the early 1980s. The additional members include two more guitarists, a second drummer and a keyboardist, but there are frequent outbreaks of multi-instrumentalism, and all players are part of the general vocal spread. The presence of Alex Ward, stage right, is particularly compelling, as he's responsible for frequent razor-chopping guitar riffs and manic clarinet solos, his horn rammed tightly down onto his microphone, pouring into a floor-spread of effects pedals.

Hayward's voice is as startling as his drumming, as dreamily sinister lines are delivered in what might best be described as a pastorally-yearning Cockney. This same tone is also emulated by Bullen, and indeed, other members of the band. It's akin to Robert Wyatt's imagined evil underbelly, as latent prog tendencies were drowned by punk and d.i.y. sensibilities. This Heat always sounded complex, in the Henry Cow manner, but they possessed a sonic palette that was much more prescient, a trio moving rapidly towards a harsher vocabulary of the later 1970s. 'Not Waving' and 'The Fall Of Saigon' have a curiously diseased romance, a melancholia for nothing, whereas 'Makeshift Swahili' has a rot-gut, visceral chant-mania, and 'SPQR' is almost conventionally skip-funked. On the classic instrumental front, they also deliver 'Horizontal Hold' and '24-Track Loop' with a fully convoluted momentum. These works are at the pinnacle of the unpopular music repertoire, and we couldn't have hoped for a more exciting interpretation, in this Parisian manifestation of the gutsiest experimentation possible.

Capt 0163 3

Have you ever urinated into a plastic urn, filled with fresh hay? This was the avant-garde (or was it traditional?) toilette situation within the vast church of Eglise Saint-Merri. Its general, arching space was even more impressive. Representing an even older generation than Hayward, Sven-Åke Johansson is in his early seventies, still looking wiry and dapper. His kit is classically tiny, just a snare and a single hi-hat, although these are well-amplified. They need to be, as his trio partners are German singer Oliver Augst and French turntablist Alexandre Bellenger, the latter operating at extreme volume, speed, extremity and general ridiculousness. He's a fast-flicker, but not in the hip-hop fashion, preferring to work with decelerated vocal content, or entire chunks of eerily dragged or scratched vintage records. This particularly excites Augst, who has the distinction of being a suave chanson or cabaret stylist, caught in a maelstrom of chaotic free-forming. Once Johansson has dangled a suddenly-discovered large cymbal onto the floor, Augst sincerely croons 'Autumn Leaves', unruffled in his self-deluded supper club zone. Bellenger clamps down on a vinyl platter with his teeth, hoping to add further surface noise. Perhaps this charged set was most reminiscent of when Lol Coxhill used to warble along vocally with his Recedents colleagues, those equally anarchistic representatives of this off-road electroacoustic manifestation of improvisation.

By way of contrasting venues, the next night's gig is at Petit Bain, which is a small shack on the banks of the Seine, not too far from Notre-Dame. We wonder how high their rent is, for the kind of venue that presents extreme sounds such as those made by The Flying Luttenbachers. This is Californian drummer (transferred to NYC for much of the last decade) Weasel Walter's old combo (originally convened in 1991), revived and touring France in a reduced power trio configuration. Not that this impedes a tendency for elaborately staccato arrangements of hellishly-amplified guitar (Chris Welcome) and bass (Tim Dahl), with the latter's fuzzed-up, slide-action tones frequently veering into lead axe territory.

Capt 0266 2

Dahl is probably most-known for his work alongside trumpeter Peter Evans in Pulverize The Sound. He might carefully consult his music-stand score during a finger-twister number, but one of this set's heat-points actually arrives whilst Welcome disappears backstage to change a string, resulting in a spontaneous (and necessary) improvised tussle between Weasel and Dahl. Is this prog or math or simply freak-out? Weasel's locked closely to the string slashcore, with much of the music possessing a slapstick humour, taking us aback with its stark shunts, shanking outbursts and free-form suspension. Not that the Luttenbachers look noticeably amused by all this, but rather, violently intent on realising each savagely condensed assault. At one point, all three players savour a series of excruciating silences, then crack in as one brain cell, heightening the import of each eruption. Weasel's brief pieces are loaded with all manner of exaggerated activity: it's rock'n'roll with a freedom sensibility.

– Martin Longley
– Photos by Magouka

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Tenth edition of Made in the UK rolls up to Rochester

Tenth edition of Made in the UK rolls up…

This year's 10th edition of the Made in the UK...

Read More.....
Django Bates Salutes Sgt. Pepper’s 50th anniversary with album and six nights at Ronnie Scott’s

Django Bates Salutes Sgt. Pepper’s 50th …

Jazzwise can exclusively announce that Django Bates, cover star of...

Read More.....
John Surman scoops Ivor Novello Jazz Award

John Surman scoops Ivor Novello Jazz Awa…

Brit-jazz sax great John Surman has won the Ivors Jazz...

Read More.....
Polly Gibbons gets passionate at Pizza Express Jazz Club

Polly Gibbons gets passionate at Pizza E…

Having been a fan of Polly Gibbons' vocal and songwriting...

Read More.....
Sax Star Stetson Plays Historic Brighton Picture House

Sax Star Stetson Plays Historic Brighton…

  Sax powerhouse Colin Stetson plays a one-off solo show in...

Read More.....
LUME Launch Follow-Up London Fest

LUME Launch Follow-Up London Fest

  Those genre-bending bastions of the UK's new jazz wave LUME...

Read More.....
Global Fusions and 25 for 25 Commissions Fire-Up EFG London Jazz Festival

Global Fusions and 25 for 25 Commissions…

Some exciting international jazz names are among the latest additions...

Read More.....
Joshua Redman, Phronesis/Engines Orchestra and Cottonopolis for Manchester Jazz Festival line-up

Joshua Redman, Phronesis/Engines Orchest…

The line-up has been announced for this year's Manchester Jazz...

Read More.....
Harpist Bzhezhinska strums up whole-hearted homage to the Coltrane legacy

Harpist Bzhezhinska strums up whole-hear…

  One of the capital's lesser known jazz venues, Toulouse Lautrec...

Read More.....
Norma Winstone and Interplay show how it’s done

Norma Winstone and Interplay show how it…

When a top vocalist is in such high demand and...

Read More.....
Andrew McCormack accelerates with Graviton album launch

Andrew McCormack accelerates with Gravit…

Award-winning pianist Andrew McCormack is set to make a dramatic...

Read More.....
Corea Crowns Host Of Cheltenham Charms

Corea Crowns Host Of Cheltenham Charms

A successful jazz festival is made in the mix: the...

Read More.....
The Rolling Stones give Jazz FM Awards the blues

The Rolling Stones give Jazz FM Awards t…

Rock'n'roll icons The Rolling Stones walked away from last week's...

Read More.....
Penguins Flip Filmic Treat At Bristol's Colston Hall

Penguins Flip Filmic Treat At Bristol's …

GoGo Penguin have always had one eye on the dancefloor...

Read More.....
Intakt Fest Goes International At The Vortex

Intakt Fest Goes International At The Vo…

  Given the fact that Swiss record company Intakt has been...

Read More.....
Shabaka Hutchings, Donny McCaslin and The Rolling Stones among Jazz FM Awards winners

Shabaka Hutchings, Donny McCaslin and Th…

The fourth edition of the Jazz FM Awards, presented by...

Read More.....
Special London Screening Of Ascenseur Pour L'échafaud

Special London Screening Of Ascenseur Po…

As part of the global celebrations for International Jazz Day...

Read More.....
Norma Winstone’s Interplay line-up for Leamington Spa

Norma Winstone’s Interplay line-up for L…

To coincide with International Jazz Day, Leamington Spa-based promoters In...

Read More.....
Alice Zawadzki and Gwyneth Herbert sing with Sam Lee’s Nightingales

Alice Zawadzki and Gwyneth Herbert sing …

Adventurous Mercury Prize-nominated folk singer Sam Lee's nature-bound concert series...

Read More.....
Empirical Pop-Up Jazz Lounge Bops to Birmingham, London and Liverpool

Empirical Pop-Up Jazz Lounge Bops to Bir…

MOBO Award-winning Brit-jazz four-piece Empirical are set to take their...

Read More.....
Freddie Gavita Quartet Make Lasting Statement At Transient Launch

Freddie Gavita Quartet Make Lasting Stat…

Ostensibly a CD launch gig to promote his new album...

Read More.....
Jazz Em Agosto 2017 Line-Up Announced

Jazz Em Agosto 2017 Line-Up Announced

  Lisbon's annual summit of sonic adventure Jazz em Agosto returns...

Read More.....
Sounds of Denmark dances back to Dean Street’s Pizza Express Jazz Club

Sounds of Denmark dances back to Dean St…

Making a splash with its inaugural weeklong run in 2016...

Read More.....
Lakeside Luminaries: Møster!, Ståle Storløkken and Sheila Jordan all shine at Vossa Jazz

Lakeside Luminaries: Møster!, Ståle Stor…

  To begin with, Vossa Jazz has the advantage of its tranquil...

Read More.....
The Necks Head For Brighton

The Necks Head For Brighton

Those fabulous folk at Dictionary Pudding Promotions and Brighton Alternative...

Read More.....
 Auand Label's Bisceglie Breakout Strikes Right Balance Between Freedom And Finesse

Auand Label's Bisceglie Breakout Strike…

  Since its inception in 2001 the Auand imprint has emerged...

Read More.....
Jazz-Rock Guitar Genius Allan Holdsworth Dies Age 70

Jazz-Rock Guitar Genius Allan Holdsworth…

The passing of Allan Holdsworth on Easter day has robbed...

Read More.....
Kamasi Washington Divulges Truth With Young Turks Global Deal

Kamasi Washington Divulges Truth With Yo…

Hot-shot saxophonist and bandleader Kamasi Washington has announced the release...

Read More.....
Freddie Gavita for Ronnie’s album launch – Transient Video Exclusive

Freddie Gavita for Ronnie’s album launch…

Fast rising British trumpeter Freddie Gavita is set to launch...

Read More.....
Ethan Iverson to leave The Bad Plus and Orrin Evans steps in

Ethan Iverson to leave The Bad Plus and …

Minneapolis piano trio pioneers The Bad Plus have announced, after...

Read More.....
Mancio/Broadbent Seduce With Sensuous Songbook At Ronnie's

Mancio/Broadbent Seduce With Sensuous So…

Introduced by the great Ian Shaw, a sold out Ronnie...

Read More.....
Jazz FM Awards to honour Charlie Watts and feature performances from Donny McCaslin, Georgie Fame and Laura Mvula

Jazz FM Awards to honour Charlie Watts a…

This year's Jazz FM Awards are now set to take...

Read More.....
ACT 25 Magic Years Birthday Concert gets Berlin buzzing

ACT 25 Magic Years Birthday Concert gets…

Twenty-five years and still going strong is some achievement, especially...

Read More.....
Sun Ra Arkestra surf the spaceways at Lewes Con Club

Sun Ra Arkestra surf the spaceways at Le…

  It's a long way from Chicago's East Side to the...

Read More.....
Jasper Høiby's Fellow Creatures Unleash Their Inner Beast At The Spin, Oxford

Jasper Høiby's Fellow Creatures Unleash …

  Jasper Høiby's new band announced themselves with a bass riff...

Read More.....
Nitin Sawhney and Rachel Cohen celebrate Abram Wilson Foundation's fifth anniversary with gala gig

Nitin Sawhney and Rachel Cohen celebrate…

The Abram Wilson Foundation, the charity set up by the...

Read More.....


 

Qobuz-ad

 

Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

@MusicClerk @screwgub @ECMRecords @vortexjazz never heard of them ... are they on @EditionsMego ?
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
That Awkward Moment you realise you've forgotten David Torn's b'day. Many happy returns fella @ECMRecords @screwgub… https://t.co/5aq2nE0cIe
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Digging into the belting Mike Westbrook Concert Band reissues on @CherryRedGroup https://t.co/bqQ47ILJX8 @vortexjazz @jazzfm @RecCollMag
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Tenth edition of Made in the UK rolls up to Rochester https://t.co/asODAprhsA https://t.co/Qyvh4GAiN7
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
@JohnRMulvey great record - I think I wrote some piffle on it for Record Collector #lamevisionaries
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-Newsletter