Thursday, 16 September 2010


Went to see a band called Aethnor whilst in Paris over the weekend. Aethnor are a group of which I know (relatively) nothing. I shared a stage with them at The Conway Hall (London) last year as part of the Equinox Festival but never got to see or hear their live set. I did see Stephen O'Malley soundcheck, but that was I was quite interested to see them live at last...and in Paris. Fortune smiled that I was travelling with Simon Kane who was on the guest list and he got me on it too. That's what good friends are for (as Brilliant once said). I did put Aethnor on my guestlist for the Dieter Muh show the evening before - but they didn't show.
The venue was the Point FMR a venue not unlike the ICA in London (where I saw Stephen O'Malley live with Gravetemple) situated in the east of the city on the side of the canal. A beautiful venue. Cheap beer as well - only 5 euros a pint! It was a crazy hot late summers night and there were hundreds of folk milling about on the canal's edge drinking beer and wine and smoking, all of which was making the evening special.
So. Like I mentioned I was pretty much an Aethnor virgin so was not really knowing what to expect. Talk was going around of how their last LP with David Tibet on vocals wasn't that good and I saw that Steve Noble of Rip Rig + Panic was the drummer! How did this sound work? dry ice and crucifix gobo's (lighting phrase - I used to be in the lighting business years ago...Barbara Dickson at York Barbican '96 anyone)? on came Aethnor.
What next happened was jazz. Electric jazz. Henry Cow meets Weather Report with a slice of (early) Landscape jazz. Out of tune, out of time. There were fleeting moments when the 4 roads met and an electric jam was produced. Deutsche Jam a la Neu! or Guru Guru but the drums or keyboards (Daniel O'Sullivan) would soon put a stop to it all by going spastic on the sound and we were back to Hatfield & The North demo material again. I stood there not knowing what on earth to make of it all. Aethnor did two 30 minute sets. A 20 minute fag break interrupted the proceedings. Members of the band smoke - and if they can't smoke on stage then we only play for 30 minutes....It did give me chance to breathe the fag smoke in the warm parisian air.
Live set two was more of the same to an ever decreasing audience. Parts even reminded me of a band I was in back in 1982 - yep! parts of it were that bad. Kristoffer Rygg stood behind a table of FX boxes and a laptop and seemed to be making really interesting sounds, but it was hard to block out the atrocious keyboards and annoying drums to hear it. If O'Malley and Rygg had done a gig together I think it would have been more friendlier on my ears.

Obviously Aethnor are not my choice of brew, my cup of tea. I don't like jazz, be it electric, trad or rock version. I would not buy their albums...but, on the other side of the coin it was great to see them. To witness Aethnor live in Paris. An evening I will never forget. Stephen O'Malley said hello and shook my hand and I smiled at Steve Noble. He was in Rip Rig + Panic! (and Bow Gamelan Orchestra and part of Brion Gysin's live band), so he can't be all that bad....

1: Guest list ticket.
2+3: Stephen O'Malley at Point FMR, Paris. September 2010.

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