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Columns > John Zinkand - Improvise

Published: 2001/12/19
by John Zinkand

Music in Flux

After hearing Flux Information Sciences, one might be asking themselves, IS there music in Flux? To the uninitiated or to the less experienced music fan, a first impression might be that there is not. However, if you are very open-minded and have been flowing right along with all the twists and turns the jamband scene has to offer in newer bands that step away from typical jamband categorization like Drums and Tuba, The New Deal, or Sector Nine, then Flux Information Sciences just may offer that demented new musical twist that will fascinate you to the core. This New York City based band is much more than just music for the ears, however, and listening to one of their CDs really doesnt do them justice. They are, first and foremost, a live band. The pure excited adrenaline of their stage personae, the pounding rhythms they emit, and their in your face style make Flux Information Sciences a must see for anyone who wants to experience something very different from typical improvisational guitars or horns.
As I stood on the floor at the Satyricon Club in Portland and watched them perform, I was nearly blown off my feet. One could hardly say there is anything remotely mellow about a Flux performance. The folks in the band, however, couldnt be nicer. Tristan Bechet is the front man that seems to help mastermind this musical exploration. He wears unique attire (a red Adidas jogging suit with the corporate logos covered up with electrical tape on the night I saw them, for instance) which is juxtaposed against what the rest of the band wears. He is the animated man at center stage. He writhes and bounces at a small keyboard with his right hand while screaming, chanting, and singing into a microphone he holds in his left. He leads the band with sharp yells and seems to drive them right into thunderous clanging beats that stop on a dime.
To Tristans left is guitarist Chris Pravdika. Some may know Chris from the band that he and current Flux drummer, Siobhan Duffy, were in before Flux called Gunga Din. At the show I saw, Chris was wearing a very slick suit complete with snazzy purple tie. While on stage he slinks around and jerks up and down to the loud rhythms while emitting the same from his guitar. All the instruments in Flux are played more as rhythm instruments, including Chriss guitar and the two keyboards. Chris rolls his eyes and sneers wildly, and can also be counted on to sing and bark into the microphone every now and then.
To Tristans right is keyboardist Sebastien Brault. He was wearing a white suit and complimented Chriss attire very well. The pair look like some sort of deranged businessmen flanking the sides of the energized lunacy at center stage. Sebastien plays keyboards, synthesizers, and samples and can be considered a major part of the sound make-up of the band. His effects can be the sound of a raucous jack-hammer or the screeching of metal being rubbed together, and he holds down the rest of the band by driving the rhythm along with fierce drummer, Siobhan Duffy.
Siobhan is setup at the back of the stage and is a serious force to be reckoned with on the drums. Its almost as if she is the actual engine of the band that pushes and drives things forward with an unbridled fury. Her hands flail wildly as she slams through the syncopated beats, triplets, or 4/4 pounding that the band needs at any given time. A touring musician for many years, Siobhan also brings contacts and road experience that are so ultimately valuable to a touring operation.
As I stood on the floor being blown away by the sheer power, force, and magnitude of both the audio and visual display, I couldnt help thinking about some of the reviews and descriptions I had already read about the band. The Village Voice describes them: "With a seedy LasVegas-style showmanship and plummeting Armageddon-disco, F.I.S. combines music with noise in a way that parallels bordering on near-genius and insanity.
One of our local Portland papers, The Willamette Week, had this to say: This is Flux Information Sciences, a team of post-industrial agitprop popsters who build playgrounds from the leftover scrap of late 20th century rock music. White noise and no wave skronk undercut abrupt funk rhythms.
And they are very difficult to describe. While not extremely improvisational, this is a live band that must be interpreted by the listener/viewer in their own way. If you are in search of pensive guitar jams or tinkling keys, then I suggest you not even try Flux. But if you are seeking to be spread your musical wings and find something totally different than youve ever experienced before, then try a Flux show on for size. Their show is high powered and loud. Dont expect any bluegrass tunes or ballads to lighten up the tension, either, because Flux Information Sciences will assault your senses non-stop and leave you squirming on the floor wondering what the fuck just happened. An intense trip, to say the least.
On a final note, check out Flux Information Sciences in New York City at the historic Mercury Lounge this weekend. They open for Drums and Tuba there this Friday, December 21st and you should go check them out if you live in the area. Drums and Tuba alone would be enough to get me out of the house, but by adding Flux as the opener, this promises to be a ground-breaking night of musical exploration. After Flux Information Sciences devastates your senses, Drums and Tuba will produce their strange brand of pulsing trance made with conventional instruments that could keep the party going long into the night. For more information about Flux, check out

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