Friday, November 21, 2008

J’Ambience at Gulu Gulu, Lynn.

Tonight I sit at my regular table in the Gulu Gulu café, with friends. We watch a band I have never heard of before, and will likely never hear again. We get a little drunk while we take apart their rambling noises, and then dwindle in number steadily, returning home. We let the band’s music, and their attempt to “rearrange things in our minds” (as the DVD show that accompanies them announces), return to a suitable state of obscurity.

Not an auspicious start to a review of the band, but as I realize that I want to write about this gig, I know the band’s attempt at producing thought-provoking music of the mind is, in so many ways, inconsequential. The gig is not here to show me why ambient music usually provokes such contempt in me. There is no story in that, if you know my musical taste. J’Ambience playing here tonight is a great show because it is an entirely fitting end to the Gulu Gulu café, Lynn, itself.

I have had some really great times at the Gulu Gulu. It seemed like an underground center for a while – a place at the root of something energetic and exciting in a new nodal point of the city. I was even stirred to try and cast myself as the one pitching my music to other locals on occasion, playing songs to some friends and some indifferent strangers who came here for something quite different from my offerings. So I hope you’ll believe me when I say that I’m not now trying to just disqualify the sad enthusiasm of J’Ambience, although on the night I didn’t do much more than that. We laughed at the peace generated by the ends of the ‘songs,’ for example, and played ‘guess this image’ from the projection screen they used. In that respect, they entertained us well.

In general the band are genuinely trying to move us with their syncopated, processed guitars and rumbling samples. Even less cynical groups than ours though, drift off from it after a while. Shockingly, one of the two members of the band actually gets up and wanders off, mid-song, at one point, seeming to sum up the carelessness of the music for me. Over the three years I’ve been coming to Gulu Gulu, I’ve felt that kind of drift into irrelevancy in the place as a whole.

This is not just Gulu Gulu’s fault. We are the ones who make the scene, and the sterling efforts of a few – people rather like J’Ambiance – have been overwhelmed by the fickle disinterest of the rest of us. Even if you never saw Gulu Gulu, in its early fervor or its recent decline, the story of it’s demise is true of a million other equally hopeful attempts to generate a scene which have fallen because of… well, what? Many of the ingredients were there, but there was no explosion, and I don’t think anyone can truly say why, musically, the Gulu Gulu didn’t launch that moment for us.

The closure of the Gulu Gulu is a sad event for the part of the city I live in, but it seems that it is necessary for the next of these sparks to flare, and perhaps to truly ignite. I left tonight careless about J’Ambiance, but on reflection I hope they endure somewhere, or at least (to speak in terms suitable to their intellectual aesthetic) that their energy stays out there, still trying to make something that moves us.


Cheryl said...

Nick, I just loved reading your most recent entry! You capture what many of us felt as we heard the Gulu was closing. Gulu was the one spot in Lynn that paved the way for other sparks to also start up and unfortunately die out in downtown.

My response to the closing of Gulu is a big sigh mixed with sadness and a bit of hope for the future of our little struggling downtown neighborhood.

As always, a lovely read! Thx, Nick!! :)

Hiten said...

A class read mate. You really are a top writer, and a brilliant musician.