The Null Device

Momus/The Free French/Stars In Battledress

Last night, Your Humble Narrator made it down to Bush Hall to see folktronica artist, cultural theorist and fabulous British eccentric Momus, HitBACK guitar-pop band The Free French and an outfit named Stars In Battledress.

First up were Stars In Battledress, a duo with one chap playing guitar and singing and the other playing piano. Their music was somewhat avant-garde, like a roiling sea of chords, notes and words, shifting and changing structure. Not really my cup of tea.

Momus was next, and took to the stage with his iBook. He basically sang over backing tracks played from iTunes, stopping from time to time to play sounds on a Flash-based microtonal instrument on the iBook. Other than that, there was no live music, though Momus put on an entertaining performance, moving around a lot and putting on quite a dramatic act as he sang his songs. (I guess that the important thing about a performance is not what proportion of notes played is live and triggered by musicians on stage, but the energy and charisma of the performer; the reason why most live-electronica acts suck is not because the artists are sitting behind a rack of synths twiddling knobs rather than playing a guitar, but because they fall into the backroom-geek trap, just sitting there rather than engaging the audience. Punters generally don't pay to see mild-mannered geeks controlling synthesizers, which is why the dance-music fad of the 90s had wide-boy "superstar DJs" to act as frontmen. But I digress; Momus certainly did not suck.)

Finally, there were The Free French; they're labelmates of Spearmint, and not too far away in the stylistic universe; indie guitar-pop with a touch of blue-eyed soul (the frontman is apparently a huge Hall & Oates fan). They played a decent set from their past three albums, and a new, as yet unrecorded song. They were enjoyable; I'll probably see them again.

There are photos here.

There are 3 comments on "Momus/The Free French/Stars In Battledress":

Posted by: Jim http://found.pale.org/ Fri Apr 29 09:37:47 2005

Heh - I was going to send you some SiB; I think it's some of the most extraordinarily beautiful music. They're nice blokes too, and know their stuff - the pianist, James, is one of the coders behind Sibelius.

Thanks for the CD, by the way! I'll sort out a return package when time permits :)

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org Fri Apr 29 10:25:16 2005

Well, if you can pick out some choice tracks, please do so. Perhaps they had an off night, or the venue/space/sound system didn't do them any favours.

Posted by: Jim http:// Fri Apr 29 12:51:31 2005

Well, I might put a track or two on. They're pretty much the top representatives of what I'd have to call the avant-pastoralist chamber-pop scene.

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