Joe Coleman Jams
Bergen, 30th and 31st of May, 2001
Anders Hustveit reports about
Motorpsycho playing the
Festspillene in Bergen
on the 30th and 31st of May 2001
on a special event
while Joe Coleman art is presented
Most pictures and Joe Coleman artwork
taken from the
Official Joe Coleman homepage:
The venue, Håkonshallen, is a big hall inside a fortress beautifully placed in the harbour in Bergen. The hall is several hundred years old, performed in stone and with a wooden roof. It reminded me of being inside a church. Inside it is completely silent as more than 350 people of all ages seated in simple wooden chairs, excitingly await Motorpsycho (presented in the program as heavy rockers) to enter the stage. As Geb, Helge, Snah and Bent enter, a moderate applause arises. The boys sit down and complete silence once again occur. Snah sits to the left in his Hey Jane-sweater with his red Gibson guitar and an old tape deck, Geb in the middle in a black suit and a tie with his citterharp, the small keyboard / sampler-thing he normally uses for the intro to Plan #1, and a lot of pedals on the floor. Helge sits to the right with a keyboard, a clavinet and a lot of other boxes and thingies, while Bent is hiding behind Helge with his barytone-guitar and a fuzz-box, impossible to see. The Coleman pictures start to scroll across the big screen above them ...
p a r t o n e
To describe the music with words is very hard. The sounds that are created just sound like sounds at first. Then a certain pattern can be detected. No apparent melody, no rythm, but sounds, samples, small bits and pieces seemingly put together without any bigger plan. You may call it a jam, it certainly is, and in these ears it sounds most of all like contemporary music. As the grotesque and pessimistic, yet beautiful pictures continuously scroll by, the slow and frantic soundscape erupts into sheer noise as Helge lays down some really loud and frightening sounds. Snah hammers his guitar a couple of times, Bent hits the lowest string so that the whole hall shakes for some seconds, Geb continuously repeats the simple pling-plonging he has done on his harp all the time. Still no sight of a rythm, a melody or anything else to hang on to. The Coleman pictures get pretty intense and messy, they show all kind of heroes and anti-heroes from the American history: Rapers, mass-murderers, scientists, politicians, perverted policemen, terror, sexually abused babies, kids, women and men. A fucked up world. The soundscape reaches several frightening climaxes, mainly encouraged by Deathprod, and finally falls to a rest during the end credits. The last plong we hear comes from Geb, as did the first.
p a r t t w o
The second night was more powerful. They seemed more at ease with the situation. The jam found its form faster than the night before. The spectre of sounds was the same, but both Snah, Geb and Bent put in much more than the day before, something that made it possible for Helge to mainly add delicate details instead of being the main force. Geb did not pling-plong as much as in part one, instead a sample of an accordion never ceased to return, creating a very uncomfortable mood. Part two was not the same as part one, but on the other hand they sounded alike.
What struck me during the concerts, with all due respect Your Honor, was that the band could have randomly chosen a middle-section from almost any of the numerous Un Chiens so far performed, and sent it on a tape to Bergen to accompany the pictures and it would have fitted just as good as what we heard them do these two nights.
As I write this I'm listening to the first ever Un Chien d'Space, the 16 minute jam performed 23/10-96 to the film Un Chien d'Andalou at Cinemateket in Oslo, and it strikes me how similar parts of the middle-section of that very first Un Chien are to the Coleman jams ...
I'm very curious if the boys will find elements or themes on their Coleman tapes that will evolve into something new and fantastic like Un Chien, but the big difference is that while the first Un Chien already during the first performance sounded almost the same as it does today, nothing in the Coleman jams sounded remotely like a melody.
Even more Joe Coleman art can be found at the following URLs:
Also check the Joe Coleman feature at http://home.online.no/~janbruun/writings/index.html