Struma + Iodine 2 year anniversary party

For those of you who never heard of Struma + Iodine and who have a tendency to be fond of experimental electronic music and psychedelia alike, should check out one of their nights. Since two years they are booking a nice range of strange, odd, intense and danceable music acts in Vienna and I think they are doing a nice job at getting interesting people to play. Struma + Iodine seem to hit a very specific trend towards one-person-only acts, since these kinds are flourishing now like mushrooms, due to the strong radiation of a low-priced synthesizer market, which allows more and more people to easily pack a whole studio including loop stations, theremins and various synths into small suitcases.


Èlg live @ fluc wien

On this very occasion I’ve already seen two acts in the line-up before: Cam Deas and Jung An Tagen. The most interesting about them is, in what kind of way they changed their set-ups and their sound. This could be a nice experience for those who are interested in the more technical side of making music than in just plain listening. This is one aspect more to attend the shows of Struma + Iodine on a regular basis. But first things first.
I’ll start chronologically now with this evening, because it makes the most sense to me, if you write more in a full-steam-ahead way, like I do right now. First of all played Èlg. I’ve never heard of him before and because of his odd french-like singing I thought that he is from France. However the reader for this evening said he’s singing a kind of strange mix “aus Französisch, Esperanto und Dada”. I never considered Dada a own language before, but maybe I learned better this evening. Èlg was sitting behind his stompboxes, snyths and keys and, while singing, looked like an old charming chanson singer in front of a grand piano. His voice is great and his show seemed to be some kind of persiflage on those chanson singers, I kept on thinking of; especially his facial expression supported this notion. The structures of the melodies he played, while singing, were rudimentary. Suddenly they stopped or made strange turns you didn’t expect and at some point ended up droning away under incoming beats.


Cam Deas live @ fluc wien

He was followed on stage by Cam Deas. He used to play a 12-string acoustic guitar in a more traditional way but someday he started to use it to trigger a modular synth and created a beast. I saw this the first time on a Struma+Iodne evening a year ago or so. It was monstrous. Back then I remember huge gear wheels, crushing under their own burden, bursting kettles of locomotives, because they became rusty and old, gigantic pendulums, bumping into skyscrapers. The sounds where just devouring. Unfortunately some of this magic was absent for me in the actual set on this evening. I don’t know what the difference actually was between this set and the past, but somehow it seemed to me more reserved. Most important ist that this stuff seems to be improvised at most of its parts. Maybe I’m completely false with this assumption, but I think this is the thing, that makes acts like him interesting. If you are interested in this stuff you will return to a show and suddenly the next time it works out in an other way and blow your head.


Tomutonttu live @ fluc wien

Next on the list was Tomutonttu. He was more of the danceable beats and psychedelia fraction and started to explode really great rhythms, beats and melodies into the faces of the (unfortunately sitting) audience. I really wished that some more people would join the only guy dancing, because this was definitely appropriate. But like the whole bulk of people I remained seated as well. I got lost in the strange tunes and melodies though.


Jung an Tagen live @ fluc wien

Last for this evening was Jung an Tagen. I expected him to play some of his more beat-like stuff, but instead he made something totally different. It is hard to describe but I would say it was more of a contemplation on (slowly) opening and closing frequency filters and shape-shifting of waveforms than what you would usually call in German “Musik die ins Bein geht”. During his set I caught me thinking of an essay from Friedrich Kittler who said about electronic musicians: Not the names of the human persons should be printed on their records, instead the serial numbers of their synthesizers and studio equipment. It was a set that really needed time to enjoy.

I went home a bit confused this evening. I expected more party-like music, because of the anniversary theme. Instead it turned out to be something in between an exhibition of soundscapes and danceable music. If you are interested in spending some evenings where you might learn something new about music, I really recommend you visit the next Struma+Iodine evening.

Text+Pictures: Michael Poigner