Three Nights in France

22 05 2008

By Derek Beres

There comes that moment when you realize why you do what you do. As a music journalist, it often happens at a live show. Unsuspecting, you’re standing in the crowd, enjoying, perhaps dancing, perhaps relaxing, and suddenly you’re pulled into the vortex, the “sacred space” that solders the connection between sound and human, that the musicians create and invite you to step inside of. Some call it trance, hypnosis, divine; it is the reason they play, the reason we go, the reason that doesn’t need reason.

After an overnight flight (delayed four hours on the runway) and a full day canvassing the streets of Paris, we were exhausted walking into the basement of La Maroquinerie. I had just interviewed Les Primitifs du Futur co-founder Dominique Cravic at his studio, nearly passing out in the 18 Euro cab to the club. I was pleasantly surprised to see the supporting band on the ticket stub—Londoners Transglobal Underground. We grab inexpensive wine (which my friend Jason assures me is better than a lot of expensive wine in the States) in plastic cups and head inside. The room is no larger than the Bowery Ballroom, but it is packed, throbbing, the sound equivalent or better.

Transglobal sounded good, which I expected. Their records have always been hit or miss, usually a bit of both on each. Songs like “The Sikh Man and the Rasta” and “Stoyane/Male-Le” stayed on constant rotation in my iPod for months, while a lot of their latest, Impossible Broadcasting, was forgettable. The banging dhol, the pulsing bass, the British patois—it certainly set the stage for what followed.

Before coming to Paris—a trip centered around the Les Printemps de Bourges festival—my friend Cecile at the French Music Export turned me onto Watcha Clan. I was excited to check them out live, via the strength of their MySpace page. They reminded me, in some way, of Ojos de Brujo. Little did I know how correct that assumption would be. Their show was much different in scope; Ojos travels with over a dozen people, while Watcha had three, and another rotating in on guitar and vocals. Musically they were also worlds apart, though fragments of flamenco did seep into Watcha’s set, and both use hip-hop as a foundation for part of their material.

Click here to read the full article on PopMatters

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