Music Workshop 2011
Milano, May 31, 2011
Triennale di Milano, Teatro dell'Arte
Words + Photos: Gian Paolo Galasi
Even if you're not cynic, it's nevertheless difficult to pull apart how you have to be tough if you want to strive your goals in the music business today, and try to share your own personal achievements with a large audience. While tonight two veterans of experimental languages like Sainkho Namtchylak and Arto Lindsay are playing in an almost full theater near the center of the city, in a quiet and cool place like the Triennale Museum and its surrounding and almost natural environment, lots of musicians are harshly strieving for places to play in and people to play with. Those last six months were demanding for experimental music (and beyond) hard-ons. Milano will surely be a better place in September, when the MITO Festival will bring us a series of events related to Haiti music and culture, and the likes of Diamanda Galàs, Louaka Kanza, Omar Souleiman, Christian Fennesz.
But since January, people here had the possibility to see only a bunch of important happenings: bassist Joelle Léandre playing with poet and performer Nanni Balestrini, Peter Brotzmann accompanied by Steve Lacy's devotee and fellow Gianni Mimmo, with friends Xabier Iriondo on guitar and self- built instruments and Cristiano Calcagnile on drums, plus the Organic project led by trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, veteran of the AACM Association. Only the last one was promoted by a theater, being the others settled in a couple of self-administered social structures, Cox 18 and Torchiera. As far as going 'underground', a good mention is for Attila Favarelli, a musician that since the beginning of this month is organizing in The Lift, his private recording studio, public exhibitions of young French composer Kassel Jaeger and Echtzeitmusik's duo Mat Pogo/Ignaz Schick, and for O' - Artoteca, a place devoted to both installation/performances/contemporary art and electronic music.
Far away from matters related to scheduling, on 31 May at La Triennale di Milano, Sainkho Namtchylak and Arto Lindsay shared with the audience the result of a two-day workshop in which they gave shape to an amazing mix of tuva/tibetan deep throath singing, lullabies and no-wave slights, or, better said, clouds of coal and sound. It's impossible not to recognize the distinctiveness of this couple of prime movers in their own fields, and breathing the result of two creators of musical nuances working together is always a wave of freshness in the middle of that part of today's cultural scenery that fixed quest and personality as the most important values.
Two different sets: a solo performance by Namtchylak, that you can see as a good introduction to her last output Cyberia, a record related to oytulaask chants and shamanic experience that takes the stock of the singer's multi-faceted vocal technique, spanning from open melody through improvised singing; and the duo with Lindsay's nervous but well balanced mix of rapid slashes and distorted and surrounding effetcs. If the firts part of the concert is remarkable because you won't find elsewhere a singer able to combine multi-tones chant with the wide spectrum range she's gifted, the second part is the real surprise. Guitar plunges vocal textures, opening then to lead us into a dark, misty and surrounding environment.
And even if Lindsay and Namtchylak together were playing what seemed to be a bunch of eccentric, vaguely melancholic and noisy ballads, the twos showed a coherence of inspiration and of result. Lindsay accompanied with nervous but fluid movements his playing, while Namtchylak mastery with more structured song forms, combined with her ability to improvise, gave her the possibility to weave a texture around which her partner worked more with his characteristic sound dynamics, from minimal gestures to loud fillings.
It's a matter of fact that music is also a playing field in which moods and colors loose the tracks we usually relate to common and everyday feelings and sensations just to elevate themselves, and you as a listener, to a wider range of emotions and suggestions. This is a big part of shamanic cultures, not that apart from their most direct social function: broadening the stream, opening to a meditative emotional setting in which the number and the value of hues and shades increase and overtake the boundaries of directness, just to take time and place in which to experience a much open perspective. That's what people in the audience tonight took part of, and this is a good reason to push forward with that and all related musical occurrences.
Arto Lindsay official website
Sainkho Namtchylak official website