Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Anne-James Chaton and Andy Moor at Cafe OTO

It’s been just over one year that I spoke with Anne-James Chaton, and parked in the back (stage) left corner of Cafe OTO, a live music venue in London’s east, it was a pleasure to witness the French sound-poet perform and promote his latest album, Transfer, with friend and collaborator Andy Moor and Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore.

Their Sunday night stopover in London was the final show of a three gig mini-tour, and for me a noisy end to a weekend embracing the first signs of summer. Starting with Princess In a Car and ending with Flying Machines, the Transfer LP is the crowning fifth title of Chaton and Moor’s conceptual Transfer series; four 7”s released three months after one another between 2011 and 2012. The series maintained an emphasis on transition and transportation, and Transfer bundles all eight tracks from across all the EPs, with an additional two tracks, “Journal D’un Naufrage” and “Journey On The Pequod”.

Transfer follows Chaton and Moor’s Décade LP, released on Raster-Noton last year. The duo collaborated with Carsten Nikolai, aka Alva Noto, for an far-reaching connection of poetry, guitars and electronics. June 2nd at Cafe OTO however saw the synthesis of Alva Noto swapped for the strumming of Thurston Moor, with both Moor(e)’s opening the night by thrashing their beaten guitars like lumberjacks on chainsaws in a rain forrest. To think some 10 years ago, many in the audience, pensive and cross-legged, were likely to have lost shoes and taunted loudly at beer soaked Sonic Youth (and Andy Moor’s) The Ex gigs.

Dynamics were tense, as were moments of rest, allowing Andy Moor, with a bulb of sweat hanging from his nose, to break into violent flexures of noise, hyperextending his guitar’s whammy bar in the process. Alongside, Thurston Moore would move his guitar up to an amp like a block of cheese to a grater, creating feedback loops and rumbling bass frequencies. This led into three solo readings by Anne James Chaton; “Événement Nº 20” (“Barak Obama”), “Événement N° 23” (“Pop Is Dead”) and “Événements Nº27” - all taken from the album Événements 09. Each Événement is constructed from newspaper headlines of international events, for example, "Pop Is Dead" was taken from a headline the day Michael Jackson died. 

Backed by a pre-recorded track of his own contorted vocal loops, and with a piece of paper held in front of him, on que Chaton would recite a hurried and monotone stanza of speech. Read aloud over his backing track and timed to perfection, Chaton’s rampant announcements of vocalised sound would break for the backing track’s automated phrase, i.e. ‘Barak Obama’ or ‘Pop Is Dead’. The Frenchman’s third and final read of the act, “Événements Nº27”, originally taken from Événements 09, saw a rerelease on Yuji Kondo’s 10Label in 2011, featuring alongside techno from Sawlin, Steven Porter and Ancient Methods.

Andy Moor then joined Chaton to perform music from Transfer. Played in a live context, “Princess In A Mercedes Class S 280” lost its emotive thematic, while the sub-bass and stepped beats of “D'Ouest En Est” were given a new and clubbier context. A solo Thurston Moore was the evenings penultimate performance, with the American delivering three numbers that varyied from punk and guitar noise, to the pleasantly indie “Groovy & Linda”. 

With his trademark megaphone resting idle next to him, the final act began with Chaton seated at a desk with the day’s newspaper. As Moore and Moor chaotically vamped their guitar’s in the background, Chaton would at will read passages from the newspaper, ranging from advertisements (see Alva Noto “Uni Acronym (ft. Anne-James Chaton)”) captions and headlines, making sure to strike the microphone with the newspaper as he turned the page. 

With guitars shredding full tilt - facials of orgasmic rage on the faces of both Moore and Moor - Chaton rose to his feet with a megaphone in one hand, paper clippings to read from in the other, and like an automated message read “poor literature” loudly through the megaphone, down the microphone and on to the crowd. Ending their final windfall of sound like the management had pulled the power, an opened mouthed Cafe OTO applauded to three unconventional rock ‘n’ rollers, who arm in arm, bowed like Jagger, Richards and Wood of The Rolling Stones, only with the humbleness of Charlie Watts.

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