Bugge Wesseltoft At Oval Space, London
With all the excitement that surrounds EDM you could be forgiven for thinking that electronic music is just about topping the Billboard charts or celebrity DJ’s. It’s easily forgotten that while the mainstream-side of dance music is garnering unprecedented attention, experimental and boundary pushing elements of the scene also continue to flourish.
Just one artist who’s been exploring the more obtuse and less danceable side of dance music is Bugge Wesseltoft. A Norwegian pianist schooled in the likes of Coltrane and Sun Ra, Bugge’s music mixes elements of house and techno with loose improvised jazz. His recent collaboration with Berlin DJ Henrik Schwarz, which meshed machine music with free-flow piano impprov, saw him gain critical claim from across the board and has won him fans the like of Giles Peterson and X-Press 2’s Ashley Beedle.
Bugge’s latest project is his most ambitious yet. Forming a band full of crack session musicians, the aim was to create a live show with dance beats and spontaneous musical flourishes. Generally, throughout his hour long performance in London, this goal was achieved in some style. Piano noodling was centred on electronic beats provided by Joe Claussell, a highly influential DJ in his own right who’s party Body & Soul would likely gain a nod of recognition from house-music nerds. This meant the show still had the grove to keep people moving but the musicality to keep the jazz fans stroking their metaphorical beards. At times the music teetered towards a cacophony of random noise, but any roughness around the edges only added to the feeling that this show was entirely of the moment.
When even some of the biggest acts in EDM admit that the music’s simplistically easy to play live, Deadmau5 we’re looking at you here, it’s important that there are still electronic acts that value musicianship and experimentation. Even though mainstream dance music continues to enjoy a moment in the sun, it’s likely the next big trend will start with guys like Wesseltoft who try to do something different.