On Friday night, the Taipei Chinese Orchestra (臺北市立國樂團) brought this season’s Silk Road theme into full swing, when it played alongside Iranian percussion ensemble the Chemirani Trio and Omar Faruk Tekbilek of Turkey.
The 50-piece orchestra set the evening’s celebratory tone with an adaptation of a Tang Dynasty era marching song. The Chemirani Trio then joined the orchestra onstage for Improvisation in 7 Beats, which was written especially for the evening’s performance by conductor Chung Yiu-Kwong (鍾耀光).
The piece started with a moment of silence, which broke as the percussionists struck the first beat in eerie unison. Brothers Keyvan and Bijan Chemirani launched into a set of hypnotic rhythms, anchored to the backbeat played by their father Djemchid.
The piercing voice of the suona (嗩吶) horns led the audience through various crescendos.
Backed by the orchestra, Tekbilek began with Yunus, a tribute to the Sufi mystic Yunus Emre. His soulful singing was a nice shift from the Trio’s intense, layered rhythms that marked the first half of the program.
During the evening, Tekbilek played two different instruments: the ney, a bamboo flute and the baglama, a lute from the Mediterranean. In some places, the delicate tone of the baglama was overpowered by the orchestra.
Both Tekbilek and the Chemiranis clearly inspired the orchestra when they were on stage. But for the pieces they performed alone, the orchestra seemed stiff and lackluster. At times, it had to be prodded along by the energetic Chung.
Back 2 the Future (B2TF, 回到未來) started the week off at Underworld with a bang and ended it with a bash.
Last Sunday, the party crew staged Night of the Living Metal, an all heavy-metal DJ party featuring Chthonic (閃靈) guitarist Jesse “The Infernal” Liu (小黑), Manum frontman Tong Tzu-chun (童子軍), and Triple Six (666) guitarist Wang Yuan-kang (王元康) and drummer Joe Chou (周家強) manning the decks. There were three ways to get admitted: wear a heavy metal T-shirt, pay NT$3,200, or cut yourself. Most of the 40 or so people in attendance — an impressive figure considering that the party was held on a Sunday night — chose option one. A few people who walked in without metal attire nicked themselves so that a few drops of blood squeezed through, thereby gaining admittance.
On Saturday, Drumcorps, a one-man breakcore show from Berlin, rocked Underworld with an impressive mix of thrash metal, drill ’n’ bass and post-rock, sampled breakbeats and live guitar shredding. The venue was packed with at least 80 people. The crowd thinned after Drumcorps’ third encore when B2TF’s Hsiao Yao (小姚), also of indie-rock band Varo, stepped up to the turntables and threw down a wicked electronica set that kept the crowd dancing for at least another hour. This was the fourth time a B2TF concert or DJ party has packed Underworld in the last two months. Their success indicates there’s a demand for parties and venues that are more about dancing than bling.
The Lin HH Dance Company’s (林向秀舞團) production of Other Side of Darkness (光的另一邊) at the Experimental Theater was a beautifully rendered exploration of relationships and phobias. Without a set or props, just lighting and music to set the stage, company director Lin Hsiang-hsiu (林向秀) and fellow choreographer/dancer Wang Wei-ming (王維銘) gave us a finely nuanced, yet impassioned look at four slightly neurotic individuals.