Real Live Action

Christian Fennesz

September 26 @ Western Front

Review By Adrian Dziewanski

Christian Fennesz, photo by Steve Louie
Christian Fennesz, photo by Steve Louie

An 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper tacked to the entrance doors: Tonight, Fennesz, sold out.

The majority of people that would be attending already sat comfortably in their seats well before Scant Intone & Souns (a.k.a. Constantine Katsiris and Michael Red) took the stage. The two opened the evening’s event on what would only be their second real-time collaboration. Maybe practice doesn’t make perfect as these guys were able to formulate a fine set filled with miniature atonal crescendos, subdued skitter and interwoven sampling—everything played at a comfortable medium-low (sometimes it’s nice not getting your ears blasted off). The sampling ranged from environmental sounds and indiscernible murmuring to more industrial elements.

Occasionally a cheesy drum beat slipped through, though never outstaying its welcome. Impressively, the duo were able to restrain their sound to a fog of subdued concrete clusters, ever dynamic and interesting. A fine display of what Vancouver’s subtler side of experimental music has to offer.

After a short intermission, the main act was announced. Not wasting any time, Christian Fennesz dove into his first number, a heavy slice of electronica and fragmented guitar. Fennesz is not your average laptop gawking purveyor of electro-glitch soundscaping. The man actually plays a guitar, live, through an actual guitar amp. All the while digitally deconstructing white noise flowing from his computer. It’s quite remarkable to see live and the opening half did not disappoint. As the set rolled on, however, claustrophobia started to settle in. What made Fennesz’s impeccable 2008 release, Black Sea so good was its sense of space. And that space seemed to be filled in on this particular night. Despite this fact, the heat—did I mention that the Front had a serious lack of ventilation?—and the sets particularly sour-note ending of Fennesz walking off after his last song, disgruntled over the sound tech’s overly intrusive use of compression, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t leave satisfied.