12 March 2013

The sublime and the ridiculous

I’ll let you work out which is which. I caught avant-garde Dutch vocalist Jaap Blonk at Smith’s Bookshop last night, but it was only a short session. I arrived decked out in suit and tie (quite out of place) and left during the first set to play at the Casino, so I missed the later set/s with Jon Rose and Richard Johnson. But what I heard was a wonder. Jaap spoke of sound poetry and of the early composers dating back to the 1920s, so this is not a totally new art form. I wondered at his mouth control. He spoke or sang words in Dutch or Russian or English and presented sounds that were all the world like cars or dogs and riffed with tongue-twister melodic snippets that he’d expand and lengthen with authentic tonality and real musical skills and all done with solid rhythm and groove and poetic metre. I’d never heard the like, although there was some great contemporary vocal improv at SoundOut. This seemed more poetic as well as inherently musical. And the glottal skills (is there such a thing) and musical/poetic chops were clear as break of day. I wish I could have stayed. To me, this was experimental at its most exciting and most skilled and also with inherent humour. Great stuff. See the YouTube link below for what you missed. Then I was off to the Casino. Sublime or what? Jaap Blonk (vocals) performed at Smith Bookshop.

  • Jaap Blonk performs Ursonate
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