barbed wire garden – lyon

the first order of business as we drove south-east out of paris, en route to lyon, was to set about raiding the vast bag of albums that geste had cunningly packed for our listening pleasure across the long miles of the tour. it would be sage at this moment to immediately mention the almighty double-album from danyèl waro, which proved to be one of the first albums we auditioned and subsequently the one we returned to the most; beautiful maloya sounds along the highways of the old world. still, how the geste collection on this particular drive led to a long discussion between the man himself and swordplay surrounding the facts in the case of the richmond and dc hardcore scene and all the myriad bands therein that they realised they both shared an interest in. while they talked long and in depth, pierre and francis talked business up front and i let my eyes rest a while, desperately trying to catch up some of the missing sleep from the past two nights’; which would rapidly become an ongoing theme indeed.
as our route took us closer and closer to lyon, the weather seemed to improve with every mile, and how, by the time we arrived at le périscope to be greeted by the lovely folk there, we found ourselves in the midst of a truly beautiful spring afternoon. azure blue skies extended above the location and a hot sun bathed everything in the most warming glow as we unloaded our gear, sought to secure ourselves tea and coffee and set about the sound-check situation directly. how le périscope is a truly beautiful location indeed, how the sound was an absolute dream; both onstage and off, and how we could all only be so keenly aware of what a wonderful opportunity it was to play in such a venue. through the exhaustion and the haze of the night before, the makings were steadily building for another magical evening.
still, time was precious and our agenda was packed. with the sound-check all in hand, we steadily made our way en mass via the lyon metro system through the city and to the location of the hallowed jarring effects record store and label headquarters. glad handshakes were exchanged with the omnipotent mo and his expert consorts and how we were treating to a guided tour of their legendary installation before gathering together to take mint tea and talk awhile on the facts in the case of jarring effects, dora dorovitch, the barbed wire garden tour and all else therein. it was in these exact moments that i once again cursed my inability to understand and indeed be able to converse in french. i poured all my concentration into try to gleam any understand i could from the conversations, but was left to resign myself to re-doubling my efforts before the ‘next time’.
subsequent to our gathering, we filed our way back into the store, where a goodly number of folk had amassed in order to catch a small ‘in store’ performance, which we began to set about directly. isaac stepped up to the mic first and treating the audience to three or four songs in anticipation of the nights’ performance and how i followed-suit soon after. with the little showcase very much in hand we filed out onto the street and took in the lyon evening air before starting to think about making our way back to le periscope. it was at this point that the enchanting miss sophie reappeared after her train commute from paris and how our collective evening was once again brightened by her presence and, with our number being unified once more, we steadily made our way back to le périscope with a view to beginnings the evenings proceedings before too long.
once back safe in le périscope we took the opportunity our securing our fill of the tasty food that was now waiting for us backstage and, with our bellies full and the guests having began to arrive, it was time to begin the show. in what was essentially a repeat performance of this night before, francis took to the stage first a set the scene with three of four of his masterful compositions before i stepped up to join him as we made our way through five or six titles together; and how it only became more and more apparent to the both of us how much we enjoyed and how well being onstage together was working out for us. two shows down and it already seemed like we had been working together since the very beginning; these strange intangible musical connexions.
isaac and pierre took to the stage soon after and absolutely destroyed their set. there may indeed have been more people in attendance the night before in paris, but how the sound in le périscope was absolutely crystal clear, and nice and loud; and how it was an absolute dream to get to hear every note, every line, every nuance of their set. truly spell-binding, and how exactly the same could be said of geste‘s subsequent performance. there is something deeply affecting about being able to hear songs in this context, in this undiluted and all-encompassing fashion; one of the many reasons why live music performance is still head and shoulders above any ‘second-hand’ experience by comparison. the strange magic of the arts indeed.
with the show over for the evening, the rest of the night was spent propping up the bar and getting the chance to talk with a host of wonderful souls who had made it down for the performance, many of whom i regrettably let the names of escape me, but how there is so much to be said for these magical moments when the opportunity presents itself to be able to commune with like-minded souls, to celebrate these songs and to simply share some moments together within this curious and magical life. the hour grew later and later and the drinks continued to flow, and how it were as if the spell would never end, but slowly farewells had to be in order and how weary eyes began to signal the slow paths back into the dreaming once again.
at some truly ungodly hour of the night we finally set about loading up the car, bidding fondest farewells to the dearest périscope and jarring effects families and making our way back to the girardeau residence, as per our sleeping arrangements for the evening. as matter-of-fact as it initially seemed, upon following miss sophie to the door of her building and indeed to the door of her family apartment, it quickly became apparent that our lodgings for the evening were far-beyond five star. words can scarcely do justice to how charming the apartment actually was, and how the interior decoration, curated by miss sophie herself, was truly impeccable. i remember that the only compliment i was able to muster in the moment was that it was fit enough for a band of buriers to shoot a music video there; no small feat indeed.
as per what were becoming usual operations, the kettle was quickly brewing and how there was a little time to relax after the chaos of the evening, to take tea and to reflect awhile on these past two days before we would reduce ourselves to but a few more hours sleep before the drive to strasbourg in the morning. slowly but surely we all gradually made our ways into the sleeping; desperately attempting to secure some kind of rest before the early morning light would beckon us up and back into the car once more. still, how perfectly-relaxed a group we were, and how soothing it was to be able to spend even this short while in such a magical safehouse; chances of a lifetime.
the morning arrived far earlier than any one of us would have desired, but we all took it in our stride, even dear miss sophie, who had no actual need to arise with the rest of us, other than her consistently kind and charming nature giving her cause to do so. soon tea and coffee’s were on the cards, the breakfast table was awash with tasty croissant and pain au chocolat treats and we were slowly able to gather ourselves back up to spill out onto the street. after what was becoming the usual morning game of tetris in packing the car, we took our individual turns to thank sophie for her kindness, hospitality and company, before we all piled back in to the vehicle, ready to begin the drive to strasbourg under the beautiful hot spring sunlight. weary travelers on a long road, filled with warmth and ready for the next steps of the adventures.
might i then take a moment to offer collective thanks on behalf of all our number to everyone involved and everyone who made it down to le périscope on this magical night. so many names, and so many of them having slipped away in the sleep-deprivation, but indeed lucas did wonders with our sound, mo and the jarring effects family were gentlemen and scholars indeed, captain alexandre who drove three hours and stayed in a hotel just to catch the show, this wonderful couple who sang along to every word of the ‘tap-water’ songs, the lovely miss sophie for her charming company and willingness to stay up far, far later than i can only imagine she would have desire this night. how we are filled with such gratitude and warmth for all your kindness, and how we can only dream of repeating the performance again before too many long moons pass.
next field report : strasbourg

barbed wire garden – paris

as always with touring, i had stayed up far too late the night before departing and, upon arising at dawn, was only operating with a little less than three hours sleep as i wandered out into the mist-shrouded cold of connewitz, ready to take the straßenbahn to the hauptbahnhof in time to make my first train connexion of the day. i rode the line west to frankfurt, drifting in and out of the half-sleep, reflecting on this long journey ahead, and slowly watched the skies turn from grey to blue until, upon arriving at the hauptbahnhof in frankfurt, it had grown to become a beautiful day. i changed trains and rode the next service to paris gare de l’est, slowly drawing myself out of the half-sleep, ready to ride the metro lines to the eleventh arrondissement and rue saint-maur.
as i emerged from the metropolitan, the first thing that struck me, along with how glad i was to be in this district again, was the wonderfully warm spring-like weather, and how it seemed like a different world to the cold grey of leipzig that morning. i paced keenly along the backstreets of the district, bustling with parisians attending to their early-evening activities, the scene unfolding myriad strands and emitting cacophonous waves as i found my weary way onto rue moret and back to l’internatinal itself, only to find both geste and isaac taking in the air outside the venue. how remarkable it was to be stood before them both again, and how it looked as if they hadn’t aged a day since we last congregated. within moments, pierre and francis appeared from across the road and the circle was complete, with hugs, smiles, warmest greetings and firm handshakes. it was on indeed.
being the latest arrival after my long commute, my first order of business was to head downstairs to check the microphone for the performance, and how strangely wonderful it felt to step onto that stage again, the last time having been back in the fall of 2010, alongside babelfishh, james p honey, bill van cutten and mesparrow. how i could not help but reflect on that night as i checked the sound with ‘subduing demons‘ and ‘alhambra’; how so much time has passed since then, and how so very much has changed. how i had to think on how i could never have guessed that it would have taken so long for me to return to paris and how i was overwhelmed with gratitude to unexpectedly find myself in that place, communed with such close friends; about to embark on an adventure whose proportions and magnitude we could have had no comprehension of.
the night was already marching on though, and how the first souls were already beginning to arrive, and how it was the deepest pleasure for the first order of the evening to be introduced to the perfectly enchanting miss sophie girardeau, the better half of sir geste, who would immeditely grow to be a fond face along the route of the tour, along with the equally enchanting miss charlotte gonzalez, who would brighten our parisian evening and later capture an extraordinary photograph of my performance alongside francis for posterity. we retreated below once again to take our fill of some food, to prepare the merch table and to generally gather ourselves for the performance. and how the time afforded us more opportunities to catch up on our news, to marvel at this fantastic union and to talk in keen anticipation of the upcoming stops along the long path.

naturally, the night quickly grew to become a crazed-blur of hazy recollections amidst the din and madness of any given parisian evening at l’international. i keenly recall the arrival of many more dear friends, both those whom i have not seen in so long and those whom i had been yet to meet in person. how it was the deepest delight to see the brother roma and julien babel once again, and how it was such a real honour to finally get to meet the near-legendary magali vannier and céline du buisson; such dearly-wonderful souls, one and all, and how there were so many good people in attendance this night, some of whom i got to learn the names of, some of whom i did not, and how i constantly had to tell myself and those around me that i really had never expected that it would have taken so long to return; how i can hardly believe where the time went whilst i was away.
still, with all the fantastic turmoil and excitement there was also a show to be played and how we all found ourselves communed in front of the stage ready for the nights’ musical selections. as we are disco doom revenge, francis began the proceedings treating us to a perfectly-brief series of compositions which could easily have continued for a long while as far as i was concerned, until he proceeded to invite me to join him on stage and how we began our very first, completely unrehearsed, performance together. we began with ‘subduing demons‘ and, within the first moments of hearing his bass perfectly complimenting the track i knew that we would be on to a succession of really great shows. we kept our set short-but-sweet and retreated offstage to a rousing round of applause and how it was a truly magical experience indeed; the first of many, as time would unfold.

i was absolutely adamant to find myself in the front row as sworplay & pierre the motionless took to the stage and was only matched in my efforts to rap and sing along as much as possible by a super-nice, super-young guy who had also fought his way to the front row and who, after getting to chat awhile afterwards, proved to be a really decent chap indeed. almost needless to say isaac and pierre absolutely destroyed their set, running though almost every track from ‘tap water’ as well as dropping the majestic ‘no dancing‘ from zoën, as well as a sinister cover version of ‘twice the first time‘ from saul williams, just to raise levels to near-unworkable limits. i can hardly relate how much i enjoyed the show and was far too lost in the moment for it to even occur to me that i would get to witness eight more performances before the tour would be out. truly devilish details.
geste took not a moment to mess around and appeared onstage, hooded, scowling and ready to chew through the walls with his unrelentingly-chaotic sound. the hour had grown late enough for the dancing crowds to start to emerge and how i had to retreat away from the stage for fear of getting trampled by teenage girls enthused by the electronic rhythms; not to be the last time this would happen on this tour. but how it truly was a delight to get to hear his solo live-set again, i shudder to think when the last time actually was; sometime back in london at least. i let myself fall away into the waves of bass and let the highs flitter through my mind as i continued to try to let myself believe that this night was actually happening; that this tour was actually happening.

as always the night grew so late so fast. we were already being reduced to bidding farewell to the dear souls that had communed with us on this magical night, and were soon all cramming ourselves, the charming sophie at our side, into the tour car for the first time, driving south through the city, to gentilly, val-de-marne; to the geste safehouse and our sleeping place for the evening. we unloaded the car which gave us a chance to check out the compound; garden courtyard, rehearsal room basement, first floor balcony and charming residence. we took some measures to fix ourselves a little light sustenance, some hot beverages and the beginnings of our sleeping arrangements for the evening. it was in this hallowed moment that pierre first uttered the words ‘autoblow’, first in regard to his portable mattress and pillow, but before long, across the days, in escalating reference to myriad things that ought not be repeated in polite company. how i had almost forgotten what it is to tour with this man; the hilarity unfolding!
slowly we drifted off to sleep at some ungodly hour, and how the morning alarms were sounding out all to quickly. i can hardly remember what time it was we awoke exactly, but how we had scarcely secured three hours or so slumber, before we were hastily making our collective way through teas, infusions, coffees, pain au chocolat and croissants, loading the car and thinking about making our way to lyon. we were reduced to bidding farewell to sophie for now, but were filled with gladness that she would be taking the train to lyon to join us for the evenings performance and, moreover, that we would have the distinct honour of getting to stay at her families apartment within the city this night, a true honour indeed. with our farewells in order we piled into the car and promptly sat motionless for ten or fifteen minutes whilst pierre wrestled to get his smartphone to charge through the cigarette adaptor; an object of paramount importance as it was due to be providing our satellite navigation for the duration. gladly the device began to behave itself and we were on the road to lyon as the morning sunlight steadily began to build across the landscapes unfolding.
next field report : barbed wire garden – lyon

barbed wire garden – initial facts in the case

so, as i find myself once again relaxing in the safe and calm of the connewitz safehouse, my thoughts start to turn to attempting to detail the madness and joy of the recent ‘barbed wire garden’ tour, and how it strikes me that it was such high adventure, to such a great extent, that i am scarcely able to be sure as to how to possibly manage to adequately convey the delights therein. but, try i must, and how i might well begin by taking a moment to draw together some of the initial facts in the case, in order to do begin to really do justice to this life-changing set of performances.
i would do well to reaffirm the fact that i was very much a last-minute addition to the chaos and wonderment of this tour. i had been aware that swordplay & pierre the motionless were due to be touring the EU, and was indeed deeply involved in helping to organise their leipzig show, and how i did indeed marvel from afar their overall itinerary, with not the slightest inkling that i might be involved to the final extent which i was. needless to say, when i took the call from pierre a week or so before the first paris date, i was absolutely beside myself with delight and excitement at the chance to get involved; the horror and turmoil of it all.
i have been fortunate enough to have been good friends with isaac [swordplay] and pierre for many a long year now, our paths first crossing in north america in the spring of 2009, and how it took only moments to become greatly fond of them, as artists, but moreover as wonderfully kind people. pierre really is one of the most amazing men alive, so incredibly kind, decent and loving, and with the most wicked sense of humour one could ever imagine, and how isaac is equally amazing, never a more considerate, understanding, honest soul there was. the two of them combined, on record, on stage, and in person; really is a union that has to be witnessed to be understood.
still, how the prospect of this tour also brought with it the realisation that i would get to finally cross paths again with the masterful geste, another dear friend i had grown acquainted with during his time in london, through collaborating on materials various together, as well as performing at glastonbury festival together as part of the 2econd class citizen live band back in 2010. how he really is such a exceptional man too, fiercely-talented to an incredibly technical degree, but also filled with such honesty and compassion, understanding and empathy, a true gentlemen and scholar indeed.
lastly, i keenly understood that this tour would mean at last crossing paths with the masterful francis esteves, a man who i was still only learning the importance and magnificence of. our paths had first crossed online during his re-launching of the beautiful doro dorovitch label, by way of the ‘connect the machine to the map‘ compilation, and how we had been exchanging a steady slew of communications over the long moons from then til now. i fully understood how great and opportunity it was to meet him, but how i could scarcely have anticipated the complete picture of quite how much of an affect our meeting would have, as we traveled and performed together across these nine shows.
the tour really was absolutely outrageous in so many respects. we played nine shows in nine days, across four countries, over five thousand kilometers, averaging three hours of sleep a night and six hours of driving a day. we were five men driving into a surreal dream of sleep-deprivation, saturated with night after night of astonishingly warm souls welcoming us into their worlds and offering such kind words regarding our music. we pushed everything to the absolute edge and came out dazed, weakened, elated and filled with warmth. i will do my absolute best to detail the facts in the case, and how it shall be a strange ride indeed.
first field report : barbed wire garden – paris

barbed wire garden eu tour

gentle readers. with much excitement i can hereby announce the shocking news that i have officially been enlisted as part of the barbed wire garden EU tour alongside the almighty swordplay & pierre the motionless, geste and we are disco doom revenge, and shall be appearing at all scheduled stops this month, as the route makes it way from paris to vienna and back again; the shear unbridled horror of it all.

‘Barbed Wire Garden’ EU tour – March 2014

14th – Nantes [FR] – Le Lieu Unique
15th – Amiens [FR] – La Lune Des Pirates
so, please do be sure to check for the event in your city, it would be truly wonderful to see as many souls along the road as possible, and how i am so very much looking forward to returning to some sites i haven’t seen in what feels like a lifetime, as well as visiting some new locations that have remained only ‘on the cards’ for far too long. glory days indeed.