by carl wilson

It's Got A Gouda Beat

Photo swiped from Nadia at Squiddity. Sorry it went all squiggly. I dunno why.

When a man plays cheese as a musical instrument, that event deserves to be recorded. Zoilus correspondent John Halfpenny reports on Friday night's concert in Toronto (as part of the current MOCCA drum show, "Demons Stole My Soul") by the beloved Dutch free-jazz percussionist Han Bennink, which centred on two drum kits called Cheese Kit Diptych, built with Bennink in mind by Dutch artist Walter Willems. One is actually made of waxed rounds of cheese, and the other is an artificial replica. Here's John:

"I like to see [Han Bennink] periodically. His playing with Ray Anderson, a few years ago, got me interested in playing percussion. Maybe he relies on too many crowd-pleasing gimmicks, but I always come away with something inspiring whenever I see him. From what I understand, the cheese kits were made for him by a local sculptor. I was doubly surprised. For one thing, they didn't look constructed. They just looked like big cheese wheels. The other surprise was that it wasn't Han's idea. There were two five piece kits, one filled, one hollow. Each drum was equipped with a condenser mic touching the shell at around the mid-point. He also had standard cymbal arrays on a rack.

"He started with the solid kit. To my ear, they were nicely tuned. The sound is difficult to describe. It brought to mind aspects of paper bag mixed with bare feet running on a wood floor. A very pleasing thwok. He kept the performance small, occasionally warbling the brand name of the cheese he was playing: Friiiii-co or sometimes just Cheeeeeeeeeezzzzzee. The kick kept up an insistent low thump while he went to town on the 'toms'. My buddy insisted he could smell warm cheese, but I never did.

"He started on the hollow kit with a rockshow storm that wouldn't be out of place in a stadium show before stopping abruptly and proclaiming, 'Wrong festival.' Certainly the hollow kit had a more natural driving sound, very drum-like, although with a similar warm overtone to the solids. The little gouda ball could almost have been a wood block. He didn't seem to play that kit very long before jumping over to a third kit where he basically went off on a typical Han rant. Board across two drums, playing his mouth, wooden shoes etc.

"Luckily he came back for an encore on the first kit. He ended the show by spiking his sharpened stick into the only red wheel, revealing the cheese inside. In all, he only played the cheese for maybe a half hour, but everyone seemed satisfied."

Live Notes | Posted by zoilus on Monday, June 20 at 2:21 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (3)



Isn't crowd pleasing part of the deal with these guys? I mean, when the music is that radical, you gotta do something to keep the audience tuned in. It's a fine tradition that goes back to early Zorn, Chadbourne and company...Last time I saw Bennink he played with something he pulled out of the town dump earlier in the afternoon. The audience was similar to what you might find standing around at the scene of an accident...dumbfounded, awestruck, some smiling knowingly, others looking bewildered.

Posted by Phil on June 22, 2005 11:41 AM




Posted by andrew on June 21, 2005 9:44 AM



picture is squiggly because you're resizing it with the html img tags. if you want to resize it properly, you gots to use Photoshop or something and do it there.

Posted by frank on June 20, 2005 9:01 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson