samedi, juin 09, 2007

Rex Trilogy III: Dinner, Urban Athletics, Sleeparchive and Onur Özur

I got home rather late Friday night, so I slept in pretty late and then crawled out of bed. I took to transferring the interview I had recorded the night before and doing a bit of organization, then did a whole lot of catch-up blogging. I had a pass that would get me into the Rex tonight before 1h00 (thanks, Fantô!), so I had plans for a leisurely and somewhat early dinner, a short disco nap, and then off to the party.

However, midway through the evening just as I was getting ready to fetch some groceries, I get a call from an old friend living in Paris. This was the same one that I hung out with only a few days after arriving in Paris last September, who had once stayed with me in Toronto back in the early 2000s. Anyway, she was having a get-together of all the girls that had been in the Ottawa (Canada) program with her back in the day, so she called me to invite to join them for dinner. I was thrilled to get another chance to see my friend before leaving, and I was curious to see what the rest of the girls were up to, so I accepted. The only problem was that we were supposed to meet to start cooking dinner at her place around 20h30.

So I quickly did my grocery run, frantically did as much blogging and correspondence as I could, and then dashed off to her place. As it turns out, she was running late, so by the time I got to her place, she was just getting back from the market. The rest of the group arrived shortly thereafter and we started cooking up dinner. Some of us chopped up chicken breasts into large chunks to pan fry with some herbs, while some of us chopped up onions and red peppers as a base for a tomato and wine sauce. In the meanwhile, we also set a large pot of basmati white rice to cook. The rice took the longest to prepare (the 1.5 litres of water were too much for my friend's little electric plates), but once it was ready we placed a base of rice on each plate, placed some of the chicken on top, and then covered it with sauce.

So dinner was great (mostly thanks to my host and her friends; they did a good job of keeping me out of the kitchen), but we had started late and the rice had taken much longer than we had anticipated. By the time we had finished the main course and had a small cheese course (with the stinkiest cheese I have ever smelled), it was already 0h15. I had 45 minutes to cross Paris, get in the guest line, and make my way through the door if I wanted to get in for free. After having messed up and missed the door last night, I was determined to get there on time. I skipped dessert and said my goodbyes, and bolted out the door and toward the subway stop (which is actually a rather far from her place).

Now, keep in mind that I had just finished a rather heavy rice dish. As you rice-eaters of the world probably know, rice expands in your stomach and makes you feel more full 15-30 minutes after you've stopped eating. So there I was, trying to run (or at least walk briskly) to the subway station, is a belly packed tightly with ever-expanding rice. I made it to the Rome métro stop, caught the next train and transferred to the 4 line at Barbès-Rochechouart, then transferred and caught the 9 at Strasbourg Saint-Denis, getting off one stop later at Bonne Nouvelle.

Through the miracle of good timing and a great deal of running down subway station corridors, I made it into the guest line by 0h51. I had nine minutes to make it past the front door. There was a group of six people near the back of the line who seemed to be both waiting in line but also waiting for another person or people to join them. I took advantage of the ambiguity and stood behind them...then beside them...then in front of them by the time we had reached the front of the line. Mercifully, things were still pretty quiet in the cash lineup, so the guest line moved quickly. At 0h57, with three minutes to spare, I made my way past the front doorman and down into the club.

Correspondant @ Le Rex: Sleeparchive, Onur Özur, Jennifer Cardini

0h00-2h30: Jennifer Cardini

Of course, there's a reason why passes expire at 1h00 and guestlists close at 1h30 here. The place was virtually empty when I arrived. There were barely 50 people in a space that usually holds hundreds. I took advantage of the sparse crowds to check my coat and get a drink, and then wandered around the floor to see if I recognized anybody. I sat down for a bit and waited, and eventually I saw Fantômette come in. Fantô and I chatted, wandered about the room people-watching, and waited for the rest of the crew to show up. S. and D. were supposed to be showing up with a bunch of friends; it was past the deadline for the guestlist and they still hadn't arrived.

S. and D. and their crew eventually showed up around 2h30 (having paid full price at the door), and we hung out at the back of the club and chatted as we waited for Sleeparchive to set up for his set. Jennifer Cardini's set was actually very good (she even dropped that old "helicopter" track by Plastikman!), but I have to admit that it wasn't the main attraction for me. Cardini's sets are always consistently good, but I have rarely been blown away by them, either. I suspect part of this is that I've almost only seen her spin as a warm-up DJ, so I don't know what she would offer as a headliner. Nonetheless, it was a far sight better than most of what I heard last night, so I was pretty happy.

2h30-4h00: Sleeparchive

If Nathan Fake's live set last Thursday was a bit abstract and pointillist, Sleeparchive's set was two steps closer to the dancefloor-oriented minimalism of the Berlin scene. The set was great, with a punchy sound that occasionally departed into distorted or nebulous episodes, but mostly remained throbbing. There was a great deal of forward drive to the whole thing, I felt, which is rather hard to do in a live set. Part of what might have made his set the more coherent one was that it sounded like he was mixing together both individual loops and entire tracks in whatever software he was using (I'm pretty sure it was Ableton Live again). Either way, I really enjoyed the set.

The place was PACKED from the moment his set started, so I had trouble being able to physically enjoy his performance much beyond nodding my head. As it was, I still had a belly full of rice, so I wasn't feeling very nimble. Add to that an overheated, smoky room packed to capacity and squashed near the front, and I just wasn't in the mood. I still really enjoyed the set, but I can't help but feel that I would've had a better time if I had had room to move.

D. and her friends got sick of the press of the crowd and moved off to the side of the room for a breath of fresh air, leaving S. and I to hang out. Fantômette disappeared and reappeared from time to time throughout the set, although she mostly hung out near the stairs and railing the the left of the DJ booth. A little while later, I split off from S. to move to the front and take pictures of the set. Something about the intense red lighting prevented me from taking any good photos, but I managed to get a lot of video.

4h00-6h00: Onur Özur

I had heard a bit of Onur Özur's set at the Watergate in Berlin early in May, but I missed most of his set that time, because I headed off to Berghain / Panorama Bar. I was able to stick around for about half of his set this time (I left just after 5h00), and was really glad I did. The set was a bit less intense than Sleeparchive's, but more danceable. Many of the tracks had a house-y feel, and a lot of his set seemed to traverse the space between minimal techno and minimal house.

The video that I got of him doesn't do the set justice, as it remember it as more dynamic and more spatialized. Of course, this recording is from a simple mono microphone that doesn't pick up anything in the low ranges, so I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. Also, Onur is clearly not very photogenic; he's actually quite cute in a way that I don't find to be true for very skinny men like him, but none of the photos of took of him came out well. Similarly, every photo I find of him on the net is similarly unflattering, even if it's a professional job.

So, the lesson here is that you should trust my taste in music and men, even when the evidence I provide isn't so compelling...

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