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Live Reviews

Punkt Festival 2013

By Published: September 19, 2013
As usual, he began on grand piano, alone, evoking darker images than usual, with sparer ideas than in the past. But it wasn't long before the keyboardist began to sample his own playing, processing it, harmonizing it and just overall expanding it. What makes Wesseltoft stand out amongst the many electronic musicians are his instincts; he seems to know exactly what to do and when, even as he builds a set-long piece from zero. Some new textures, in particular a buzzing, distorted application to his piano was almost irritating, but that was, perhaps, the idea; to create an unsettled feeling so that when he resolved back to something easier on the ears—whether it was back at the piano or creating some programmed beats and synth textures—it came as a palpable relief.



In some ways, while there are those who might consider the thought blasphemous, Wesseltoft is what Keith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett
b.1945
piano
might have been, were he not so pathologically against electric instruments. Certainly Wesseltoft has proven, over the years and in many contexts—ranging from burning in a distinctly modal way with bassist Arild Andersen
Arild Andersen
Arild Andersen
b.1945
bass, acoustic
in Stavanger in 2008, and hosting the Jazzland Community tour that hit Montreal, Canada in the summer of 2007, to delivering a 2012 solo performance in Trondheim, Norway that was one of the year's best shows— that his credibility is unquestionable.

Wesseltoft's textures weren't always attractive, but they were intriguing; meanwhile, Knudsen's visuals were particularly good, as Wesseltoft built up again to a thundering pulse and searing Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
1942 - 1970
guitar, electric
-isms, only to stop and turn quieter, before shifting back to beats, electronic soundscapes and a curious synthesis of jazz and techno that is quintessentially Norwegian.

From ethereal attitudes to hints of stride, flurries of cascading notes and aggressive, Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
b.1929
piano
-esque block chords, but his performance was another step forward for an artist who had the hubris to call his early work New Conceptions of Jazz- -a wonderful sample of which was collected in a four-disc box set of the same name on Jazzland in 2008. But Wesseltoft has demonstrated, time and again, both the confidence and the humility to adopt that banner with complete justification. He introduced looping so seamlessly as to be indiscernible at first...later moving into areas where strange injections of distortion and pitch shifting took the music even further out, before adding a deep bass pulse, some programmed cymbals and snare drums, only to move to the piano but process it completely beyond recognition. If his performance at Punkt 2013 was merely a work in progress, the ultimate end result will indeed be something to look forward to.

Rolf Wallin—far better known as a classical composer—hit the stage as soon as Wesseltoft was gone, for what may be the most unusual live remix in Punkt history. Armed only with an iPhone and using a self-developed app, he delivered a remix that was part music, part performance art, his app connecting to his Mac behind the scenes, responded to movement, to connection with his body, and to being covered and then opened up again—or, as he did at one point, slamming it face-down on a table, lifting it up, only to swoop down with it again.

Wallin moved around the stage, making the iPhone swoop and swirl as the music he sampled and remixed from Wesseltoft's performance did the same thing. How it worked? Few knew. But if it wasn't necessarily the best live remix of 2013—it was on a high plane with the rest of them—it certainly was the most talked about after the show and the next day.



To close out the Saturday evening—normally Punkt's last day but, because Kick was already booked on the Thursday when the festival made the decision to relocate, it had to be moved from Thursday to Saturday to Friday to Sunday—experimental vocalist/composer Maja S.K. Ratkje delivered a set that lived up to Mullan's introduction, which described three people coming out of a show in Belfast, and one of the responses being "she scared me shitless."


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