FESTIVAL REPORT: Day One of the 2015 Match & Fuse Festival in Warsaw

Dave Morecroft directing the Eirik Tofte Match&Fuse Orch
Warsaw, June 2015
Photo credit: Davide Cardea 

Match & Fuse Festival
(Mózg Powszechny, Warsaw. 11th June 2015. First day of three. Review by AJ Dehany)

Jazz is an emancipatory music, and nowhere is this more evident than in Poland. Under Soviet rule in the fifties jazz was banned and could only be heard on short wave radio or on smuggled records. In the sixties following Stalin's death the music assumed a special symbolic value and pursued a resolutely European direction. This defiant spirit is one I associate with the Match & Fuse festival, which has this year located in Warsaw, having previously taken place in London, Oslo and Rome. Indicatively, I booked flights before I knew who would be playing. They promote artists at the gnarlier end of it but with a firmly challenging brief whether there be chord changes or raw noise or the internationalist jam sessions that are one of their mainstays.

Ermanno Baron and Ginomaria Boschi of ACRE
Warsaw, June 2015, Photo credit: Davide Cardea 

Handing over the baton from Match & Fuse's 2014 location, ACRE are a trio from Rome, and they open the festival. Their stuttery accented catch-my-eye rhythms recall Hello Skinny but with a bit less Peckham dubstep and more a flavour of a horror soundtrack. It's creepy and bloopy and left-field, electronic and largely atonal, sometimes even sad then launching scrunchy-eyed into batteries of thick electronic sound rising over dense Steve Noble-style prepared snare and tom work rumbling along like one of those big Italian trains.

Jazzpospolita. Match & Fuse 2015, Warsaw
Photo credit: Davide Cardea

Unafraid to wear spectacles on stage, the Polish band Jazzpospolita play an indie-fied jazz that might once have been called post-rock. Much of the harmonic interest comes from flurries of arpeggios from the Rhodes, with the guitar and bass more often locking into the drums in an integrated sound recalling E.S.T. with the same epic use of plangent fourths. Young and vital, they're big news over here and draw a good crowd, most of whom disappear as we relocate to the upstairs bar venue for the rest of the programme.

The Jist at Match&Fuse 2015 in Warsaw

If ACRE veered toward abstraction, Norwegian duo The Jist are basically 'sound art'. Natalie Sandtorv (vocals/Roland SP-404SX) is a Game Of Thrones Diamanda Galas with a battle shriek to go, and Torgeir Hovden Standal (guitar) managed to make the whole venue literally rattle with just a guitar going through a volume pedal and a TC Electronics Mojomojo with some crocodile clips. At times they sound like a dying computer picking through the memory of old songs while it's being switched off. Their sound hints at music, and the radically fragmented vocals, all executed live via electronics, hint at oblique cut-up narratives. On record their titles have a running formula: “The Jist of...” My favourites are “The Jist of Being In Between Jobs” and “The Jist of Being Rejected at Watergate”. This gag could and surely should go on forever. You could easily make a sitcom out of experimental music, though I suppose noone would believe it.

The Ereik Tofte Match & Fuse Orchestra is named after the festival's late Norwegian co-founder. An ad hoc ensemble of whoever's still around after the band performances, the “sound painting” is directed by festival organiser Dave Morecroft using a system of hand signals, similar to the approach used by choir leaders like Christine Duncan. It carries through the festival's primary purpose to get people together from all over. Dave's advice “Whatever happens, play” is applicable to life generally. On the day that Ornette Coleman died, the conversation stretched out with musicians from many countries jamming into the morning, and making a fine racket. We should really lay off the Polish vodka. It's only the first night, and tomorrow it's going to get loud . . .

Bass drum with fuse, Match&Fuse Festival, Warsaw
LINK: Match&Fuse website

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