MUSIC: Now You Squeeze It; Purcell Room, SBC / Cabot Hall, Canary Wharf, London
Friday 12 September 1997
The personable figure of Eddie LeJeune represents Cajun in the accordion festival "Now You Squeeze It", and, a mark of the instrument's universality, he's joined by players from three continents: South America, Europe and Africa. The festival opened on Wednesday with Regis Gizavo from Madagascar, whose style grafts Malagasy music on to Western rhythms; and Finland's Kimmo Pohjonen, whose playing brutally deconstructs the neutered folkishness represented by Jimmy Shand but apparent throughout Europe.
While Gizavo clearly loved the chance to bring his, and his country's, music to a new audience (this was his British debut, although he's lived in Paris throughout the 1990s), Pohjonen's act is minatory and threatening. He's as much performance artist as musician, which is not to suggest that his playing is unmusical. With the aid of a wah-wah pedal and some sophisticated electronic manipulation, he transforms his gleaming machine and, occasionally, his voice, building a dense aural fog in which sounds are simultaneously produced on-stage and mutated in electronic hyperspace. Pohjonen's instrument sighed and rustled, or barked like a dog and roared like a lion. If the results often sounded like heavy metal for accordion, Pohjonen's theatricality held the attention. At the show's climax, he seemed to be engaged in battle with his accordion, which threatened to exact revenge for indignities suffered by coiling itself around his muscular body and squeezing the life from it.
Regis Gizavo's relationship with his instrument is altogether more benign. His music has roots in the trances and rituals of Madagascar, but since coming to Europe he has formed a musical partnership with percussionist David Mirandon. Mirandon's playing is decorous, but I'm sure Gizavo really needs the extra cross-rhythms. If its ability to produce a mournful drone is the main reason the accordion travels so well, that doesn't mean it's not capable of rhythmic exuberance. Still, the combination suits Gizavo, whose playing revolves around swooning swoops or unexpected staccatos, both echoed in his engaging if hardly expansive voice. He shapes the vocal and instrumental lines quite freely, the one cutting across the other at one moment, both joyously together the next. In the ease in which it embraces Western possibilities, Gizavo's music paradoxically celebrates its wholeness. Pohjonen's music, like Cajun, gives voice to a fractured identity. That's not an assessment of value, only of difference: and we have the accordion to thank for it.
Tonight and tomorrow at the South Bank (0171-960 4242) and Canary Wharf (0171-418 2783)
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 4 Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
Fast & Furious 7 overtakes Frozen to become 5th highest grossing movie of all time
Poldark, series 1 finale, review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Avengers: Age of Ultron: Nearly 700 German cinemas refuse to show film
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
HSBC review into moving headquarters from UK 'underway'