there is something about the wind…

Cindytalk live at Cafe Oto, London 18-10-2011

“Third act of the night was the eagerly anticipated Cindytalk. Before coming on stage, Gordon Sharp told me he had prepared a noisy set. Having recently delivered a stunning trio of albums on the Mego label, home to Fennesz and Bill Orcutt, which saw him plunging into uncharted waters to develop a radically new language for Cindytalk, it was difficult to guess how that would translate into a live setting especially one tilted towards the noisier side of the spectrum. Starting off in a suitably sombre mode, more abrasive than melancholic, Cindytalk quickly captured the stage with an assured presence, which indicated that the transgender warrior was not willing to take any prisoners. And yet there was no posturing and nothing confrontational in Cindy’s voice. On the contrary it was immediately apparent how delicate and fragile Cindytalk’s sound was even if coated in an armour of steely dissonance. Performing with his eyes firmly closed as if cocooning himself as one does when inhabiting a non-space as described by Marc Augé, and only occasionally glancing towards the audience or to the back projection onto which spilled images pertaining to the feminine, I felt like an intruder eavesdropping on a very private conversation.


It made me think of a passage from a Don DeLillo novel The Body Artist. “That night she stood outside his room and listened to him whimper. The sound was a series of weak cries, half cries, dull and uniform, and it had a faint echo, a feedback, and carried a desolation that swept aside words, hers or anyone’s. She didn’t know what it meant. Of course she knew. He had no protective surface. He was alone and unable to improvise, make himself up. She went to the bed and sat there, offering touches and calming sounds, softenings of the night. He was scared. How simple and true. He was there in the howl of the world. This was the howling face, the stark, the not-as-if of things.”


Granted that there is no whimpering in Cindytalk sound, it is just the primeval fear I felt creeping up on me that brought me back to this passage, the feeling of loneliness echoed by Anna Karina’s face flickering on the screen. But it might have easily just been me projecting. Whatever it was, I was left trembling until, like softenings of the night, Julia Kent and Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo joined the proceedings halfway through Cindytalk’s set tracing the contours of a possible path leading towards the light. Without holding onto the helm, Cindy let them gently steer the boat within reach of the shore but still refusing to drop the anchor. The pervasive sense of displacement so intrinsic to Cindytalk’s music remained intact. Never going for the easy option Cindy sat at the piano like someone trying to articulate in a foreign language something deeply personal.


Having prepared myself to a barrage of noise I kept loosing my footing taken aback by the sparseness of the sound enveloped by Julia Kent’s cello and Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo’s electric guitar and viola with murmurs of appeasement. It was a performance that subverted my expectations. Once again, I will borrow from Don DeLillo’s novel to voice my feelings. There is a passage where he writes about the wind, which sums up my experience “There is something about the wind. It strips you of assurances, working into you, continuous, making you feel the hidden thinness of everything around you, all the solid stuff of a hundred undertakings-the barest makeshift flimsy.”


In the end I was left with more questions than answers, and that to me is always a good sign.”


Gianmarco Del Re for FLUID RADIO