Classical meets electronica: A marriage made in heaven or grounds for divorce?

Bretschneider & Kanding *** (3 stars out of 6); February 28 at Lille Vega

Most people who have seen Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey have numerous opinions about it. The music played by German electronic musician Frank Bretschneider and Danish classical composer Ejnar Kanding play is equally divisive, and triggers the same sort of contemplative trance that leaves one eternally trying to figure out whether what they saw was sheer genius or utter boredom.  Whatever your ultimate opinion ends up being, Kubrick's film and Thursday's show at Lille Vega seem to be similar in that as they both require plenty of afterthought and reflection.

I arrived at Lille Vega shortly before the start of the show and entered the most sparsely populated concert hall imaginable. Instead of the enthusiastic crowds one is usually accustomed to at Vega, this time the audience consisted of a few onlookers gathered around several tables under dimmed chandeliers. A drum solo, hollow background drone and visuals from Berlin-based visual artist Lillevan got the show on the road, but the atmosphere failed to get any more interesting when the music started.

The first of two sets of the evening featured live analogue instrumentals in the form of a violin, contra bass and bass clarinet, accompanied by micro minimalistic thuds and swaying background visuals.  The second set was slightly shorter and veered more into the electronica niche, flanked by an appealing visual show that synced almost perfectly with the music.  This particular set was far more catalytic than its predecessor as it left much more room for afterthought, triggering numerous flashbacks from films such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Apocalypse Now, in which the sort of music being played would have fit in perfectly.

It would be harsh to say that the show was boring, but it was certainly a long way away from being one of the best shows Lille Vega has hosted. There is no doubt that Bretscheiner and Kanding are talented musicians and their daring fusion of classical and electronica is something few would attempt. Flanked by a live theatrical performance, in the confines of a museum exhibition or even at an art installation, their music would surely have had more of an opportunity to showcase its artistic quality. As it were, in the dim, misty backdrop of Lille Vega, it failed to make a real impression.