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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jazz Fest review: Dreamsploitation

Emotionally flat and robotic, but the laptop/mixer combo promises expansive aesthetic avenues to explore.

Posted By on Sat, Jul 18, 2009 at 10:40 AM

Lean bespectacled 24-year old Halifax musician Chuck Blazevic slipped quietly into St Matt's United Church last evening, 20 or so minutes ahead of showtime. He ambled purposefully up a side aisle, pulled the cowl of his hoodie over his peak cap and turned off into a room flanking the stage area. On stage, a stand held a Mac laptop and from my vantage point, half way back at floor level, a low side table supported a rectangular metal box; its top side festooned with regimented rows of light posts. According to the program guide, this was a Monome 256; a "versatile hardware device which allows [Blazevic] to arrange, manipulate and sequence the individual layers of his music - on the fly". Promising. Most promising. Waiting for Dreamsploitation (Blazevic's musical moniker) to begin, I mentally fiddled with the concept of laptop and mixer as "new art tools for new times;" framing the combo as akin to digital, computer manipulated photographic imagery becoming our era's "fine art painting." Would the results however be art? Or merely artful? As Dreamsploitation emerged for me, I sensed it fell somewhere in between. Often gently bobbing, hunched over the Monome 256, the remarkably uncharismatic musician/technician twiddled lit up light posts; occasionally glancing pensively at his laptop screen. It was like watching a somewhat distracted masseur giving a back massage. For much of performance time, Blazevic's sounds were upper register pitched, bell-like peelings, hypnotic, repetitive, only "violated" at predictable junctures with lower pitched bass note figures. His concert split into two sections. One, piano based processed loops; the other guitar based. The global pacing of both parts remained constant throughout. Emotionally flat. Robotic. Perhaps there are expansive aesthetic avenues to explore here. I wish Chuck Blazevic all luck finding them.

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