this account of chicago date of tarmvred/law-rah collective tour might not have the required journalistic completeness, since we managed to miss both wilt and v.o.s performances (one of the main reasons while we picked chicago's date as opposed to others to begin with), however only now tarmvred seems to get recognition for his latest "subfusc" album (that many included in their top 10 for 2001), and I strongly feel that this project still needs a lot more publicity (hopefully countless upcoming interviews in many publications would definitely be of great help).
as I said above, we showed up right before law-rah went on stage. the venue was a strange mix of a coffee shop and a performance space (aka basement) downstairs. kudos to the organizers for providing seating space for three ambient acts opening the night - countless times during live shows before I was hoping that someone would recognize the "listening" nature of this music and provide adequate environment.
law-rah collective started out with minimal drones and very simple cold analog lines, slowly going through various samples, overlaying them on top of beatless, very minimal, cold atmosphere.
as bauke mentioned later, he did not want any visuals to distract the audience from his material, however the "stage" set-up wasn't most favorable. I have always felt that this kind of atmosphere the music is trying to induce requires a specific set of surroundings, a certain non-distracting and even enhancing setting. given the fact that bauke improvises on stage and disregards any visuals, the best set up would have been a pitch-black room where absolutely nothing distracts the audience, not even the musician himself. given loud enough sound, and absolute attention by the audience, the effect would have been overwhelming. I did my best and closed my eyes and tried to tune out people around me, whispering, shifting uneasily; and at times I did reach that cold, isolated, minimal feel sustained throughout "incarnation", but most of the time the audience and the sound (that did not seem to be loud enough) failed to keep me completely enveloped by music.
as I am perfecting my listening practices and concert-going experience, I will probably be more efficient in controlling my surroundings and getting myself to enjoy these sets a lot more. meanwhile I would be looking forward to the musician and/or show organizers to provide more thought-out concert environment (of course ultimate perfection is unattainable and I am infinitely grateful to all the bits and pieces we can get in the interim).
after a short break (full of intense socialization and alcohol-scavenging activities), the seats were removed and "the stage" was set for tarmvred. jonas johansson live is accompanied by frederik bergstrom on drums (known to some of you for his association with no festival of light, deutsch nepal, mortiis, ordo equilbrio, among others).
tarmvred's live set was remixed/re-arranged material off "subfusc" as well as few unreleased tracks, all blended together in one aggressive and energetic set that got the crowd moving almost instantly. heavy, crunchy mix of drum&bass, rhythmic noise, a collage of industrial sounds and synths, all blended together in one wonderfully rich mess. for some reason I did not really feel like moving (although the majority of the crowd thought otherwise), I just wanted to feel and absorb the music, as much as possible; maybe this is why it seemed that the sound could be louder, *much* louder. it was an intense experience overall, and I enjoyed every moment of it, savoring all the sounds and textures, being constantly surprised and completely overwhelmed. it was such a surprise to hear almost idm-electro tunes of "a light and hectic place" - the track that at some point reminded me of legowelt (!), finding its way back to abrasive noise collage.
this track got me thinking later about modern "industrial" electronica and how tarmvred seems to be spanning more and more genres, still remaining true to its dark and aggressive core, managing to re-create this atmosphere with the most innovative and unique music arrangements. I realized that this is what I have been looking for - listening to idm, I would be trying to find the heaviest and darkest material, being so alien to some of the directionless, soulless idm trickery, at the same time I grew bored with overly conceptual, or overly simple noise/industrial acts, that never venture out and assimilate other genres.
maybe it will not be tarmvred, maybe it will be someone following his footsteps, but this fusion of modern genres, and, most important, certain reincarnation of what was/is important to industrial scene, is long overdue.
I had this strange moment of disconnectedness, when I turned around and surveyed the crowd, realizing that some of it still looked a lot like your typical wax-trax/goth/ebm-bred audience, while the music called for something else, something that indicated this shift and change from previous sound/ideology. I also wondered why in the hell those electro/idm kids upstairs (that we had a chance to meet and talk to at length earlier at the record store) are not watching this show, knowing that without this superficial "goth aura" of the crowd they would have enjoyed this music immensely.
after tarmvred's set, that was long, but obviously not long *enough*, the crowd quickly disappeared after prolonged applause. we spent some more time chatting with everyone, finally getting to meet so many people we had contact with only online (this, in itself, was such a memorable experience, and I only wish there was more time and everyone did not have to leave next morning).
to get an idea of what you missed, get a copy of "subsnow 02-02" compilation with material from everyone involved in this north america tour. and finally, I would like to thank organizers, musicians and audience that came out and made this show possible.