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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Marginal Consort - Diplarios School, Athens, 4-23-2017

Marginal Consort at Work (Photo by Kiki Papadopoulou)

By Fotis Nikolakopoulos

While the crisis is spreading like a virus in every social and everyday aspect of life in Greece, there seems to be no room and, accordingly, no funding for experimental arts. However, the Borderline Festival, now in its seventh consecutive year and probably the leading organisation for experimental music in Athens, is a welcome exception. Hosted by the Onassis Cultural Center, this year it actually expanded its list of venues, reaching out even to the port of Piraeus and re-familiarizing us with places of Athens’ recent history like the old school of Diplarios, where the Marginal Consort performance took place.

By making general assumptions you only get parts of the picture and never the whole truth, but when it comes to Japanese music - be it psychedelic rock, noise and of course free jazz - are but a few constants that provoke my senses. Anarchic, often wild, ritualistic music is, among others, what you may find from this country with such a long tradition in music of many varieties, and tradition is not always a bad word if you know how to make it beneficial for the present.

Photo by Kiki Papadopoulou
A few years back Marginal Consort (the quartet of Kazuo Imai, Kei Shii, Masami Tada and Tomonao Koshikawa) released an amazing four LP set on PAN records. I consider this release on the best of the 00’s, but still, something was missing in action. Well, after watching for three whole hours those four non-musicians (as they call themselves), performers and improvisers, the missing element was exactly this: the live experience.

The four musicians stood in the four corners of the big room, seemingly disinterested in each other or anything outside of their small warzones. They made noises of all kind with found objects, really everything you could imagine (hell, it must be a drag to set up all these things). To listen, it seemed more appropriate and fitting not to choose one place but rather walk around the space. For me it was by following the energy flow - and, please, do not call me a hippie of some sort. Others preferred to stay at one place with eyes closed or wide open glancing at all the amazing things that were taking place in all corners of the room. The sheer force of their performance was capable of making you stop, unable to move. It happened to me a few times, while at other times I was so thrilled that I thought I would burst open and cry, or yell, or whatever the fuck else I could do at the moment.

Photo by Kiki Papadopoulou
After three hours I did not feel tired at all, even if their battle, of giving life to seemingly dead objects of capitalist consumerism, was gradually becoming our battle as well. Moments of calmness were followed by minutes (it could be hours) of intensity by drumming metallic surfaces and mesmerizing effects. They used the powers of their bodies (in a ritualistic mode) to bend objects and use amplification to reveal the hidden audio nature of them and alternate the character of them by articulating a fresh new language between sound and image.

Alternating might be the key word for this performance: as they slipped between the roles of the performer, musician and, many times while staring the actions of the other three, the audience, they succeeded in making our anticipation grow bigger and bigger (three hours and not a boring second…).

Marginal Consort presented a live performance that is the core and real meaning of d.i.y. aesthetics, practices and artistic choices and, at the same time, they stayed humble and not alienated from us. On the contrary, they well integrated within all of us, around us, together.



MJG said...

Sounds like a fascinating experience. Thanks for bringing it to life for the rest of us in such a well written review