Electronic extremity: Ryoji Ikeda and Autechre live

Autreche Text: David Britain

This month two of the most intensely visceral forces in electronic music will arrive in Paris to play live concerts, the Japanese composer and mathematician Ryoji Ikeda and the English electronica duo Autechre.  Ryoji Ikeda’s music is the epitome of a technological and scientific marriage with art. His concerts and installations often feel more like complex scientific experiments with the audience’s senses than artistic events, as we’ve known them before. Ikeda is no stranger to Paris, having displayed his sound and light installation Spectra for the Nuit Blanche in 2024.

This time he will be performing an audiovisual concert called Datamatics. His tools are the mathematically pure sine waves, white noise, square wave clicks, and binary data of computers. His instruments are specially designed speakers that can output frequencies well below and above the sensitivity of human ears. These are sounds your body perceives in the head and chest rather than ears. His music also utilises astonishingly complex mathematically created rhythms, which are usually delivered at speeds whereby your brain will have to work hard to keep up. After all, this is the work of a man fascinated by the thresholds of human perception to audio and visual data. Be prepared for a strong physical and above all visceral experience.

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International Bar

IMG_9639 Text Joel Ma and image Julien Horon

For those who acquaint themselves with a city by the pulse of its live music, Paris can leave the average punter a little cold. Openied in 2024 and located close to Rue Oberkampf, in the heart of the 11th arrondisment, The International Bar is something of a revelation for the local Parisian live music scene. It hosts two bands a night, every night of the week, completely free of charge with relatively cheap drinks and a laid back atmosphere. The music runs the gamut from rock, electro, folk, pop and world and still manages to maintain a distinctly cool DIY attitude and Indie swagger.

The crowd is as eclectic as the music styles but is becoming increasingly popular with young dressed down hipsters, students and ex-pats. Most come for the 4 euro pints at happy hour (finishing at 9pm) and stay on for the free live music. The bar stays open until 2am during the week and until 4am on the weekends. After the bands finish, DJ’s play an eclectic mix of everything from Prince to Joy Division to Lauren Hill.

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Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra at the Zenith December 2024

Emir-kusturica-and-no-smoking-orchestraText by Brendan Seibel

The most extravagant ten-year old's birthday may include donkey rides and alcoholic clowns.  Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra celebrated a decade's revelry with their trademark blend of cartoon antics and rocked up Balkan-beat anthems, inviting thousands of fans along for the ride. For over three hours the group incited a riot of fun and dance in the smoked-filled Zenith.

Screams of delight which greeted six girls taking the stage slowly descended into confusion. Distorted bass, techno drumming and canned effects backed three part harmonies and hastily choreographed exertions. What initially elicited curious bemusement quickly became the monotonous soundtrack to indifference as the songs blended into one another and the unique vocal delivery lost its voice to the europop artifice. The opening group's departure was greeted with the unfortunate enthusiasm of relief.

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Staff Benda Bilili at Cafe de la Danse December 2024

Staff-benda-bilili-resized-main Text by Brendan Seibel

Congolese Afro-funk warriors conjured a sea of ecstatically contorting Parisians at Café de la Danse. Those tragic souls who secured places amongst the club's tiered seating cursed their own comfort, barred from the rolling swarm flooding the floor. Staff Benda Bilili, the Kinshasa sensation, are first and foremost a dance band.

Ending their debut European tour the eight musicians showed no sign of fatigue. Kicking off their set with a hard funk number they churned through over an hour's worth of soulful rumba, periodically pausing to greet the crowd and collect applause. A flawlessly executed set carefully navigated from upt-empo rockers to slow grinding ballads, providing a seamless flow allowing everyone to catch their breath. Staff Benda Bilili won the stamina competition.

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ARBOR 2 - Conférences electronic music, abstract video, poetry and science

Images Text by David Britain

This week a group of artists will be coming together to celebrate the double anniversary of the illustrious scientists Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Charles Darwin. Arbor 2-Conférences is a remarkable melange of electronic music, abstract video, poetry and interviews with scientists. All of this is rolled into two holistic 40-minute spectacles, the first being dedicated to Lamarck and the second to Darwin.

VINGT paris spoke with two of the contributors to the project Gino Favotti, responsible for the music and video, and Patrice Cazelles, a poet. They explained that Arbor as an idea arose eight years ago partly as a reaction to the homogenisation of work in their fields and partly as a result of conversations Favotti had had with scientists. Conceived with the intention of being innovative and experimental, the project aims to present a dialogue between art and science in the form of a socially relevant multi-disciplinary work.

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We Want Miles Cité de la Musique

David Britain writing for VINGT Paris

Hunched over his trumpet, eyes shut reclusively or hidden behind sunglasses, dead to everything other than the music. It is certainly an iconic image that has come to represent one of the greatest jazz musicians in history. Miles Davis himself hated being referred to as a ‘living legend’ as he believed it contradicted his tireless drive toward the new. However there is little doubt that he was one of the greatest jazz musicians in history.

If you have been on the Parisian metro in the last few days you can’t have missed the adverts for ‘We Want Miles’, a long overdue celebration and retrospective. The Cité de la Musique is devoting two large halls and a special website to the exhaustive exhibition, which traces his fascinating life and work from beginning to end.

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On the Agenda: Classical Music Concerts This Fall

David Britain writing for VINGT Paris

You may know of the hazy jazz dungeons in the 5ème, and scene-y indie rock clubs in the 20ème, but don't forget about classical music! Below, you'll find select performances worth getting excited for...

acade Opéra BastilleEveryone should see the timeless classic La Bohème at least once in their life. The opportunity to see Puccini's Paris-set opera in Paris itself makes it all the more exciting and, dare I say, romantic. You can catch it starting October 29th at Opéra Bastille. Opéra de Massy is also showing a Puccini opera, Tosca, on the 6th and 8th of November, with the support of the Orchestre de Radio France.

For something more contemporary, Palais Garnier presents the work of three choreographers as three short ballets entitled Amoveo / Répliques / Genus (between the 7th-22nd of November). It will certainly be interesting to see how the dance is paired with extracts from Philip Glass’s minimal opera, Einstein on the Beach, and the microtonal haze of Romanian/Hungarian composer Ligeti.

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GRM: Electrain De Nuit

A prestigious history and enviable archive of electro-acoustic music empowers GRM's radio shows - Electrain De Nuit is a fun and diverse sonic journey.

David Britain writing for VINGT Paris

PierreschaefferLe Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) has been involved in creative musical research since 1958, making it older (and arguably more influential) but less well known than IRCAM. Their founder Pierre Schaeffer was a Radio France engineer who was the first person to record sounds and creatively link them together into a sound composition. In those days it was done by literally slicing up tape recordings and sticking them back together. In 1948 he called this style ‘musique concrète’ and later also coined the idea of ‘reduced listening’, both of which remain key techniques in electronic music today.

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Nabaz’mob: An Opera for 100 Smart Rabbits

Stephanie Wells writing for VINGT Paris


Above the cacophony of the rue de Rivoli, an army of one hundred robot rabbits wait in a dark corner of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

“Nabaz’mob”, Antoine Schmitt and Jean-Jacques Birgé’s opera for one hundred smart rabbits, is an unexpectedly relaxing 23 minute experimental art and music installation. The rabbits’ ears and movements are choreographed to an original score emanating from tiny, but powerful, speakers in their bellies.

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IRCAM Autumn Program

David Britain writing for VINGT Paris

Place Igor Stravinsky2 Art has always had an interesting relationship with technology. When Edison invented the phonograph and made the first sound recording he envisaged it being used primarily for recording dictation in offices but inadvertently spawned a musical and creative revolution. Today the mecca for the development of this relationship between technology and music is found in Paris.

IRCAM, a stones throw away from the Centre Pompidou, on the aptly named Place Igor Stravinsky, takes its position as educator very seriously. It holds numerous talks throughout the year, runs prestigious post-graduate courses and offers training in computer assisted composition, real time processing and sound design. 

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