CHANTE FRANCE / 2017
Jazzwise Magazine, 2017-03-24
Have you ever urinated into a plastic urn, filled with fresh hay? This was the avant-garde (or was it traditional?) toilette situation within the vast church of Eglise Saint-Merri. Its general, arching space was even more impressive. Sven-Åke Johansson is in his early seventies, still looking wiry and dapper. His kit is classically tiny, just a snare and a single hi-hat, although these are well-amplified. They need to be, as his trio partners are German singer Oliver Augst and French turntablist Alexandre Bellenger, the latter operating at extreme volume, speed, extremity and general ridiculousness. He's a fast-flicker, but not in the hip-hop fashion, preferring to work with decelerated vocal content, or entire chunks of eerily dragged or scratched vintage records. This particularly excites Augst, who has the distinction of being a suave chanson or cabaret stylist, caught in a maelstrom of chaotic free-forming. Once Johansson has dangled a suddenly-discovered large cymbal onto the floor, Augst sincerely croons 'Autumn Leaves', unruffled in his self-deluded supper club zone. Bellenger clamps down on a vinyl platter with his teeth, hoping to add further surface noise. Perhaps this charged set was most reminiscent of when Lol Coxhill used to warble along vocally with his Recedents colleagues, those equally anarchistic representatives of this off-road electroacoustic manifestation of improvisation.