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Article et chronique de Von Magnet Archipielagos dans Obskure magazine #11 octobre 2012
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[OBSKüRE] MAGAZINE

PUTTING A JOLT IN FLAMENCO

Von Magnet brings its electric style of performance theater to the island.

« Some young people seem happy to discover a dary, futuristic Gothic translation of flamenco, while other people are maybe shocked by the liberties we take with our use of the purest forms of flamenco », says percussionist, vocalist, dancer and Von Magnet co-founder Phil Von. The « liberties » he refers to include Von Magnet’s blend of an electro-industrial legacy with the more animistic theads of European and Asian 20th-century performance art and theater.

It’s clear that a few shocked people in the audience have not inhibited Von Magnet’s artistic freedom on 2005’s De L’Aimant (released on the Fairplay Label), where they take flamenco variations of rumba, siguiriya and buleria on a journey through post-industrial electronics. What separates its efforts from similar ethno-electro hackers such as Deep Forest, Enigma and B-Tribe is Von Magnet’s embrace of the full potential of the stage and physical movement. This Choreographic element can sometimes be aggressive. Yet even with Von Magnet’s roots in London’s seminal 1980s industrial music scene, it often achieves a result as lyrical as the human form itself.

« In London in the early ‘80s, we were struck by the post-industrial performance pieces elaborated by groups like Test Department, a very powerful mix of scrap metal percussion, electronics, visual arts and guest dancers performed in old warehouses », says Von, who is now based in France. « The work of our agents NL Centrum (who also represented Test Department, Survival Laboratories Research, Laibach, Zev, Einstürzende Neubauten and Etants Donnés) was a great kick for us in always experiencing newer ways to perform. More than conventional street theater, Von Magnet has grown using challenging, odd, site-specific venues such as disused factories, hospitals, churches, slaughterhouses and martial arts dojos, with an originality coming from the flamenco element. »

For its 1987 debut studio work, El Sexo Sur-Realista, Von Magnet secured the services of producer Ken Thomas, known for his work with Psychic TV, Wire and the Sugarcubes. In celebration of the group’s 10th CD, the innate trance-hop potential of Von Magnet twas finally explored by DJ and composer Holeg on Spies Under Von Magnet Influence – Suvmi (on the Celestial Dragon label)

Despite this worthy tribute, Von Magnet touches the techno-disco-ambient dance floor only lightly, instead seeking depth charges gathered from trends in avant-garde 20th century art. Many of these influences Von attributes to the group’s co-founder, Flore Magnet.

« Her theatrical studies were partly dealing with Grotowski, Kantor, The Living Theatre, Pina Bausch and the Fluxus activists », he says. « She brought that knowledge within our musical work and helped us to channel charisma and become performance artists. We were, in those times, merely musicians, with a lot of ambition to challenge the stage an its boundaries.

« The first trigger we encountered was the Lindsay Kemp Company performing Jean Genet’s Flowers in London, a crazy mixture of mime, dance, cabaret, Japanese percussion, singing, theater and blood.

From that moment on, we knew we would blend all art forms to create our own multidisciplinary form. The early Von Magnet formation in 1989 was composed of two people from art school, two theater people, two musicians and two members of a flamenco Peña ».

Now, as the new millennium begins to unfold, Von Magnet’s mixture doesn’t sound all that crazy, especially compared to the similar atomic reactions of 20th-century Japanese Butoh artists. In that context, Von Magnet’s work seems timely if not overdue. The merging of impulses from electronica, flamenco and Butoh is put in a framework of what Von describes as « dealing with the notion of state of being » rather than the fact of « acting », somewhere in between trance and control ».

Prague’s Open Air Cinema on Strelecky Island should provide Von Magnet with enough site-specific magic for its current work, which Von describes as a « musical drama where bodies and souls seeks ways of escape».

Von Magnet’s flamenco-flavored hybrid should resonate nicely with Carlos Saura’s film that will be shown after the performance, 1984’s Carmen.

Darrell Jonsson, The Prague Post

LES LOIS DE L’ATTRACTION

Il est des groupes que vingt années de scène ne parviennent pas à émousser, Von Magnet est de ceux-là. Invité dans le cadre du festival Eléphonic, le collectif a livré un rare concentré d’émotion.

Cela commence comme un rituel païen, un cérémonial qui prend peu à peu l’allure d’une séance d’hypnose. Dans l’obscurité de la salle, une jambe vous frôle. Deux hommes au crâne rasé se tordent à terre, se glissent en lentes convulsions jusqu’à la scène où ils s’effondrent, secoués de spasmes. Déjà les martèlements ont commencé, emplissant tout l’espace.

Alors seulement surgit la parole : des textes scandés, violemment poétiques, férocement critiques, déclamés avec l’énergie d’un désespoir enragé. Torse luisant et pantalon fendu jusqu’à la taille, Phil Von a déjà entamé sa danse avec l’élégance d’un fauve, imprimant aux mots la cadence de ses pieds qui s’abattent lourdement sur le sol. Le rythme est donné : expressionniste, puissant, romantique.

Il faudra attendre le troisième morceau pour entendre la première note de guitare. L’électroflamenco tant promis se fraie un passage dans une jungle de battements technoïdes et de samples électroniques. Des craquements de bois ou des rires de sitcom s’arrachent des baffles du Noumatrouff, mêlés à la mélancolie d’un fandango.

Des pulsions électroniques soudaines viennent rattraper voix et guitares pour les laisser s’échouer un peu plus loin. Et sur la scène, deux hommes et trois femmes s’abandonnent ou s’immobilisent, dansent et frappent des mains, inventent un art hybride troué d’instant de poésie pure.

Frôlements félins, mutations androgynes, caresses esquissées, collisions des corps, fusions des rythmes, respirations partagées : il n’est désormais plus question que d’attraction et de répulsion. L’émotion devient palpable, portée par la voix chaude de Phil Von ou la prose inquiétante de Flore Magnet.

La danse se fait musique et la musique devient danse jusqu’à ce qu’une pluie de pétales mette fin à ce rituel qui portait magnifiquement son nom «De L’Aimant»

Jean Michel Lahire, Les Nouvelles D’Alsace

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«Von Magnet ; une grande fête en l´honneur du métissage. Une leçon et un coup de maitre. On ne ressort pas indemne de ce superbe groupe qui prend aux tripes».
KEYBOARDS

" Not only are there musicians - Keyboard, guitar, percussion and saxophone players - there's also flamenco dancing, fire breathing and wrestling, physical expressions ranging from the sensual to the violent. The audience is invited to touch and smell as well as listen "
MELODY MAKER London

« Plaintive ou extatique, la musique de Von Magnet couvre le spectre des émotions avec ferveur ».
MAGIC
" COMPUTADOR, the phantasmagoric multi media electro flamenco opera & VON MAGNET's new piece of agit pop is a hyperkinetic, colliding, grinding and melting of extreme elements of dance, action mime, theatre, sculpture, slides, cinema, symphony, appropriated noise, sax and flamenco guitar…"
FREE VOICE Paris
« Déjà le public est perdu, désorienté. Il appartient désormais à un mouvement rapide, rebelle et violemment sensuel qui ôte toute notion d´espace et de temps.
Les machines, les musiques, les corps tournent sur eux-mêmes, ennivrés d´une violence exacerbée. A couper le souffle ! »
LA VOIX DU NORD
"VON MAGNET is a collective of artists from Spain, France, Switzerland and the United States. In their new productions they present total theatre including physical action, music, visual art, video, film, and slides presentations. An electric torrent of flamenco rhythms mixed with computer tones, voices, acoustic guitar and timpani drums, film and industrial sounds. The public walking around during the performance is confused. Are they pawns, musicians, actors or queen in the electric chess game by VON MAGNET" ?
SUMMER FESTIVAL NEWS Amsterdam
« Cette troupe fascinante et complexe propage à la fois un sentiment de paix et de sérénité, mais aussi d´anxiété et d´épouvante. Von Magnet, l´un des groupes les plus inventifs de cette fin de siècle ».
BLAH BLAH
« Depuis 1986, Von Magnet marie à merveille les adjectifs ethnique et technologique dans des spectacles impressionnants où se mélangent mises en scène, arts plastiques, théatre, énergie, émotions et musique ».
PREMONITION
"Since its formation in formation in 1986, this international music plusultra group has gained both fame and infamy through its enormously expressive theatrical music shows and such experimental recordings as El sexo surrealista and Computador. Composed of a wide variety of musicians and performance artists, VON MAGNET defies all attempts at labelling. In every instance it breaches the very borders of rock, dance, electronics, flamenco and theatrics. (…) Because of the spectacular nature of the shows, VON MAGNET often find itself compared to LA FURA DELS BAUS. In truth, the two groups are worlds apart. VON MAGNET is hardly concerned with the creation of stunning effects for their own sake; but it is utterly dedicated to the transmission of higher states of feeling, particulary when displaying the deep emotive potentialities of flamenco."
VOLSKRANT Holland
« Enfin Les Trans cuvée 90, c´était aussi Von Magnet pour une création ouragan pliant l´espace à la mesure de leur énergie, mêlant musique acoustique et électronique, urbaine et flamenco, sensations brutes et mécanismes complexes, l´homme et la machine, le rêve et la peur, la folie et la poésie.
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