Felix Kubin and the artless of Nottingham

March 23, 2008 at 9:57 pm (Concepts, Hypnotique, live reviews) ()

By Hypnotique

OK, here’s an experiment in words, perhaps not of the calibre of William Burroughs, but acting as something of a brain dump of some of my thoughts & emotions surrounding the show I saw in Nottingham this weekend by the marvellous Felix Kubin.

Felix Kubin, military wear

Mr Kubin is a Rennaisance man of impecible gifts, after my own heart, whose activities, according to his website, “comprise futurist pop, electroacoustic and chamber orchestra music, radio plays, performance projects, lectures, workshops and his own record label Gagarin Records.”

This hip Hamburger (Hamburgerin?) makes darn funky and twisted Deutsch techno rock using analogue synths and was a member of Blitzkrieg. In a word: he is a legend.

If you just check one thing to get a flavour, may I recommend this fine animated video about the ghost of Myra Hindley. Check out the excellent Podcast by the You Are Hear gang for the full set of the Corsica Studios London show with Silver Apples. And here’s a needless picture of me with Simeon from Silver Apples (Q – but who looks more like the pop star?):

Hypnotique with Simeon from Silver Apples

I was tempted to head down to it, for surely it would be a double-bill of mighty mana, but given he was coming to my home town that week it made sense to wait it out.

But therein lies the problem: Nottingham is perhaps not the best city for electronic experimentation, as my own (non-existant) low profile atests. It’s hard for me as Nottingham is my home town and I have all the usual home town loyalties (I’m even a fan of the ever-failing Nottingham Forest boys) but one has to admit it’s not exactly a cultural metropolis – and I personally found it a disheartening downshift to move from London (the global cultural city) to a place with an entire county population of 1million, limiting the catchment audience for any kind of niche or subversive cultural activity, and indeed the acceptance of being niche, subversive or cultural. Unless you’re a goth, then strangely you’re one of many. And (sigh), now remembering why I was happy to leave the first time age 18.

But the outlook is a faint shade of rose: there are some good promoters growing loyal audiences with the likes of Damn You! rocking out American indie or Brit equivalent bands and Johnny Scarr’s Mantile nights in ‘Chameleon Cafe’ – a truly bizarre former tea room site overlooking the municipal square putting on experimental noise, electronic, prog, doom and sometimes even more unexpected touring bands from all over the world. (last night’s Burial Hex show was a good ‘un. Forgive my bleary-fingered typing but Flemish support band Silvester Anfang – all nine of ’em – were sleeping in my living room last night – like most pissed blokes – boy did they have bad music tastes 🙂 ) It’s generally always good stuff, but a bit heavy on the bearded, long greasy-haired male afficionado types. But (sigh) you aint in the cultural metropolis now, dahling.

The Music Library and other events organised by the Via Vaudeville art collective were easily the most daring and quietly interesting nights, but as often happens in this transcient town, people move on (to London, mainly).

So back to the plot (remember that?). Whilst I applaud Ricky Haley’s Liars Club for hosting the divine Mr Kubin, a bit of publicity wouldn’t have gone amiss, given I had to make Sleuth-style enquiries to find out what was happening that would make Laurence Olivier and Michael Cain proud (but not Jude Law in that bloody awful remake). OK so lots of people go to Stealth, but has the average 18-yr-old got any interest in esoteric electro-analogue dada-rock?

Still it’s the first time in while I’ve been propositioned by a 23-yr-old who said “I’m only asking for my mate, he’s 20”. I got to use one of favourite “Carry On” catchphrases: “I’m old enough to be your mother!” (note: use in inappropriate contexts mainly, e.g. with persons older than self). Cradlesnatcher Hypnotique is definitely not. I’ve always been more partial to the beautifully maturing wane artistic male, preferably of a continental persuasion (thus perhaps my affinity for aforementioned Mr K, however, I’m even more prone to wax lyrical on the artist merits of any old Arian Berliner. Perhaps there is no objectivism in my cultural reviewer status. But let’s face it, it’s not much of a review so far).

Anyway, the set started v. late, but we’re off and myself, Johnny Scarr, Pieter and Jude held the micro-fort for refined audience appreciation. Mr K was resplendent in a modish tailored suit and two tone shoes, but clearly troubled by limited audience recognition. If, after all, you are a STAR then you wish to shine as such. I languish in obscurity so know no better. He kicked off and the kiddie-winks were curious. Their tiny teenage ears had never heard such SOUNDS where analogue synths crunch a beat, squelching in and out of sync, mice running up and down the sound spectrum with chants of “Hit Me Provider!” in fantastic Germanic tones Uber-alles. And that was before he brought out the BOLTS OF LIGHTNING (prop, not GWAR/Kiss style stage effect).

Oy vey baby! This is Hypnotique audio heaven. If only all night clubs were this da da da. A dangerous kind of fun. I danced like a mad cat, but the kids were suspicious, many choosing to stay in the suberclubs other rooms (which actually hosted a fairly tasteful selection of indie-pop (not too naff), house and later some fun and bubbly techno). Finally, people realised the action was happening on Mr K’s dancefloor. Or maybe they were all coming up. Or the other rooms closed. Who knows, but toward the end of the set people started flocking in and grooving, which lifted Mr K’s spirits and made it more like the event it should have been.

Afterwards we had a little shouting chat with him above the typical club din. The man was crippled, this was no night to end his UK tour and I felt ashamed of my shallow little hometown. I questioned (again) my own presence here – could I create something of my own where there is nothing, or is swimming against the tide the path to drowning? Anyway, I know you won’t be back Mr K – just as every other fantastic and unexpected performer who passes through and does a half-arse half-empty show never will. Another one bites the dust.

But just to say I adored what felt almost like a personal show purely for my own pleasure, and that’s gotta be worth something. I’m listening now to his 2004 album Matki Wandalaki. Lovely stuff, and who’d have thought Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello” could ever sound so romantic. I once had a bad experience when I worked at Universal Music when a Lionel Ritchie gold disc fell on my head. That was a bad day in the office.

So I look forward to seeing another Kubin show another time, a better place.

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