Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Nightmare Before Christmas 2011

And I went to Christmas ATP – or the Nightmare Before Christmas, as they like to call it. This was the one curated by Battles, Les Savy Fav, and Caribou. I was staying in a chalet full of anarchists. And my beloved. And the ladyfriend of one of the anarchists.

As always there was some great TV on. One programme we liked was Garth Marenghi's Dark Place. This is a 1980s hospital drama written by and starring the well-known horror writer Garth Marenghi. He plays a doctor in a hospital, which then starts being taken over by all kinds of occult phenomena. I would not recommend it to the easily terrified.

More suitable for a general audience was a documentary we caught on Donk, the popular musical phenomenon in the north of England. This featured a floppy fringed southern softie going up north to explore the world of Donk, meeting such people as the chaps who created the 'Put A Donk On It' tune. This kind of thing writes itself, really.

The last few minutes of Zardozlooked completely bananas. But I started wondering whether it might just be that this film is bananas in a good way. It was also filmed in the Wicklow mountains, so it all looked oddly familiar. Men running around in mankinis – it is not unusual up there. Future investigation (of the film) may be required.

The best thing I saw was in the ATP cinema, the film Deutschland in Herbst*. This was made after the so-called German Autumn of 1977, which saw a leading German industrialist abducted and murdered by the RAF, the highjacking of a Lufthansa jet to Mogadishu and the rescuing of the hostages by German commandos, and the suicide of the original core of the RAF in Stammheim prison**. A number of different directors worked on it and the film features a combination of reused news footage and newly filmed scenes relevant to the subject at hand. One of the more entertaining of the new sequences was by famous crazy director Rainer Maria Fassbinder, which largely featured him and his fancyman Armin. Fassbinder determined to disprove the generalisation that homosexuals all have great dress sense and know how to look after themselves. He spent a lot of time arguing with Armin, also not the world's most handsome man, so much so that I wondered why they stayed together. Then we had some scenes of them wandering around in the nip, and it became very clear what exactly Armin was bringing to the table.

There was a lot more to the film – stuff about Germany at an odd point of its history – but that kind of stuck in my mind.

Oh yeah, music. There was some of that. The big star for us was the Syrian dabke sensation Omar Souleyman. Everyone went completely mental for him and so we had one of the best ATP times ever. He is a fascinating showman – adept at working a crowd yet lacking in the kind of fist in the air histrionics that western rockers would go with. If anything, he is surprisingly static, working the crowd with the slightest of gestures.

DJ Katoman
Nisennenmondai were an interesting Japanese three piece. All women, I think, but they had a man called DJ Catoman with them to sell merchandise and then to DJ later in Crazy Horse. He was playing early 1980s cheese and I was enjoying it so much that my beloved had to almost drag me away to see Urban Resistance, who were surprisingly funky and entertaining with their occasional Kraftwerk nods.

Of the headliners I sadly managed to miss Les Savy Fav through being tired (not *tired*). But I did see the early afternoon performances from Battles (chunka chunka chunka) and Caribou. Both were great. Battles are like what happens when hipsters get it right, while Caribou are still an intriguing mix of styles best appreciated live, especially given the visual spectacle provided by their two drummers.

Sunday at ATP turned into Jazz Sunday, which was nice. On the bill we had The Ex playing with Ethiopian sensation Getatchew Mekuria, with some other brass players assisting the Negus in bringing us the jazz. The young lad the Ex have as their new lead singer seems to have really grown into the role, finding his feet and coming out from the shadow of the old guy he replaced. He jumps around the stage like a little tot moppet and then plays brass on the songs that do not require vocals. The new bass player with the Ex is also delightful, having the kind of face that suggests a man who has lived life.

We also liked old jazzer Pharaoh Sanders (sadly not joined by anyone playing on their organ, or someone running their fingers over a pink oboe, etc. etc. God I am so mature), but the real jazz action for me was with the Sun Ra Arkestra. I had somewhat forgotten how great they are and drifted along to them with a slight sense of "yeah whatever", only to blown away by their space jazz action. I like it.
Sun Ra Arkestra
I cannot remember anything else I saw and time constraints mean that I am unable to tell you about the CD-R swap or the fascinating literary periodicals being sold at the event.

*Germany in Autumn, for those less attuned to the ways of our fiscally prudent overlords.

** But was it suicide? blah blah etc

see also

Darkplace image source

An inuit panda production

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