FLUCT + Ylang Ylang & Cosi e Cosi + Nothinge + Ssurfacing + Kazuki Koga @ La Vitrola


REVIEW: CJLO - 1690AM, CHOQ.ca, No Exist, Suoni Per Il Popolo, and CKUT 90.3FM present: FLUCT + Ylang Ylang & Così e Così + Nothinge + Ssurfacing + Kazuki Koga - Friday, June 10, 2016 @ La Vitrola

I was first to arrive at La Vitrola, a tiny, inconspicuous venue where DJ Carmen, Nothinge, Ylang Ylang & Così e Così, and DJ Kazuki Koga would belt out intense and passionate performances for the experimental and avant-garde music festival Suoni Per Il Popolo. I knew virtually nothing about any of the artists that performed, but I came out pleasantly surprised.

First on the scene was DJ Carmen (the DJ persona of Catherine Colas) filling in for Surfacing, who had to cancel at the last minute for unknown reasons. She started her set with dark, moody, and wonky electronic beats that you'd expect from this kind of concert. However, the music quickly transitioned into a set mostly comprised of IDM synth tinged techno, which really made for a lovely first act. While her set was by far the most danceable of the night, it lacked the emotional punch that the following artists would bring.

As DJ Carmen's set ended, the tall, slim man clad in an oversized leather jacket, skinny jeans, and dusty Chelsea boots who'd been sitting next to me headed for the dressing room and appeared on stage wearing the exact same thing, except he now donned a mask made of multicoloured deflated balloons. It was the second act, a solo artist named of Max Posthoorn, mostly known by his stage name, Nothinge. The first song that he played on stage was essentially the opposite of what I'd expected from the snippets his oeuvre I had sampled: yells drowned in reverb, kick drum heavy backbeat, and overall very abrasive music. The rest of his set, however, was like what I listened to on his bandcamp: goofy and carefree pop, but mixed in such a way that it sounds bleak and even a little uncomfortable.

There was some set up time between Nothinge and the third act, Ylang Ylang and Così e Così. Instead of playing the venue's usual background music, DJ Kazuki Koga popped up on the DJ console to play a mix of his own music and various other tracks that fit with the mood. As he mentioned on his interview on CJLO's Shibuya Crossing, his music falls into the mysterious genre dubbed gorge music. It's heavily inspired by rock climbing, and its most distinctive feature is the mix of oppressive and claustrophobic electronic beats accentuated by tribal rhythms played on tom-tom drums and various other percussive instruments. If Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was remade today, gorge music wouldn't sound out of place if played during the sacrifice scene. But what surprised me the most about Kazuki Koga's set wasn't his ability to fit in gorge music's disjointed rhythms into a DJ set. It was fitting in music that was completely different stylistically, and being able to improvise on that. One particular moment in the set that caught my attention was when DJ Kazuki Koga played a song by one out the hottest vaporwave artists at the moment, 2814. Their music could be described as slow, ambient cyberpunk soundscapes, which is pretty much the opposite of gorge music's tense rock climbing background.

Ylang Ylang & Così e Così came up on the stage as soon as they finished setting up. While they are a producer-singer duo, Ylang Ylang & Così e Così had no dynamic between them. And I believe that's the way they intended it to be. Ylang Ylang provided minimal, dreamlike beats, while Così e Così completely ignored the hypnotic quality of the music, having absolutely no melody to the vocal line, much less harmony with the backing tracks. It's not really my thing, but I understand the punk ethos behind it - screw everything, just make music. This was also reflected in Così e Così's wild performance and stage presence. While he had the moves like Jagger, Ylang Ylang was too focused to even bob her head to the beat. I never would have guessed how they interacted or why their music is so disconnected from their vocals had I not been to this concert.

There was then another in-between set by Kazuki Koga, which was mostly more of the same. Incidentally, there was another cyberpunk song, this time in the form of the soundtrack from the classic anime movie, Akira. When removed from its source material, the heavy breathing and the tribal drumming of the track actually makes perfect sense in the context of gorge music. Nice touch!

The fourth act, FlucT, came on the secondary stage, left of the stage on which all the other artists performed. FlucT are a duo of performance artists, Monica Mirabile and Sigrid Lauren, rather than musicians, although they did make the backing music on which they danced. If you can call it music. Or dance. The backing track was a mashup of everything from music from The Lord of the Rings soundtrack, to chopped and screwed hip hop music, to a quote from what I believe was Elliott Rodger, and many, many more. The separate pieces were edited in such a way that they are jarring as possible when they transitioned into each other. Then there are the performers themselves, who came on stage dressed in nothing but beige blazer, trousers, and clown makeup. The performance was... how do I describe this? For sure, it was performance art. Indubitably, it was avant-garde. But just what was I supposed to feel from the juxtaposition of chopped up snippets of seemingly unrelated pieces of media, and two people flailing around like they were having a seizure? Was the idea behind all of it "mass media makes us go crazy"? I don't know, but that's the only thing I could extrapolate from all of this. I'm not too used to all of this, and I still think the gratuitous flashing and the booty-eating was a tad unnecessary.

The final act was, once again, DJ Kazuki Koga. While I enjoyed his other sets, I think a third one was overkill. Besides, both the venue and the metro were almost closing and I was still trying to wrap my head around what the hell FlucT's show was about. Maybe I'll never know. This whole concert, while not usually what I listen to, much less what I enjoy, was definitely memorable, albeit probably not for the right reasons. And that's perfectly fine, new experiences should be all about being memorable.


--DJ Lawrell hosts Fukubukuro every Sunday at 9PM, only on CJLO. With moods ranging from serene to hotblooded, light-hearted to upsetting, minimalistic to ear-shatteringly loud; the fun part of Fukubukuro is not knowing what you'll get every show.