Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Hans Blix: Live at 507
This past weekend was one of my most eventful musical experiences. Kurt Elling on Friday, Ryan Scott on Saturday, and then a great double bill of Hans Blix and The Sly Fox Gentlemen's Club on Sunday.
Hans Blix turned out to be the only band that I had not heard before this weekend, and I was quite impressed. In the depths of the 507 bar in Williamsburg, I found three guys rocking out at full volume to a crowd of about 45 people. The group consists of a drummer, an electronically effected saxaphone/bass synth, and a guitar running through ableton live with tons of stompboxes and loopers.
What came out was a kind of music that I have never seen before. If I had to categorize it (i hate doing this to music like this) I would say it seems the three guys were trained in jazz, listened to rock, and recently realized that electronics could take these two genres and bend them into new and exciting things each time they play. The songs were totally improvised on the spot and covered many stylistic grounds. They may start out in a laid back hip/hop-esque beat with subtle jazzy guitar licks and then explode into a driving break beat with wailing riffs and driving synth bass.
It was only after the show that I learned about the improvisational nature of their set. The grooves and textures they develop are suprisingly cohesive for music of this kind. I am oftentimes let down by totally improvised music (Marco benevento's recent performance at Sullivan Hall with Billy Martin, Skerik etc. for example). Thankfully, the three dudes in Hans Blix communicate extremely well and their music reflects that. There were very few times when the three were not totally locked in, and during those times when they were not, the music didn't really suffer. Rather, they served as little free interludes between locked in grooves.
Unfortunately, It seemed as though they only got half the crowd with them. Some people seemed to waiting for the next band, (a live hip hop act) and were a little turned off by the noisy noodling that preceeded what they were there to see. Honestly, it's not too suprising. Improvisational music can be hard to groove to sometimes, and when you play it you run the risk of turning people off simply because they don't understand what you're trying to do. Nonetheless, Hans Blix put on a good show. Although they may not be the most animated band to watch, the sounds they create are anything but ordinary.
To listen to some tracks from their album "What's the highest number you can think of?" (some incredibly dope shit) and some live cuts from a performance at Piano's, visit www.hansblixband.com