With Dancing With The Sound Hobbyist, Zita Swoon Group is once more exploring a new path. Together with the dancer and choreographer Simon Mayer, and coached by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker of dance ensemble Rosas, they have created a performance that takes the audience on a trip through the world of Zita Swoon. Mayer fits into place effortlessly among the members of the band. They play contrary instrumentals alternated with melancholy songs, stirring percussion and short episodes of intimate music.
During the second season, the Dancing With The Sound Hobbyist team has become a tight outfit. The players and dancer have a strong interaction and the road towards refinement and new creation lays open. Dancer and choreographer Simon Mayer reacts intuitively to the music within the structure he created together with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker during the first season. Movement and sound have become a whole. From the second season every performance is unique.
Musically, they opt for more experimentation. Aarich Jespers creates a string orchestra that makes a random rhythm pattern and also adds a touch of humour. More percussionist ‘found objects’ are introduced into the bands instrument library and some of the compositions are rearranged with an ever-growing sense of musical freedom, which is reflected in the dance.
Simon Mayer (choreography, dance, vocals, guitar), Stef Kamil Carlens (musical director, organ, guitar, vocals), Aarich Jespers (percussion), Kapinga Gysel (vocals, xylophone, percussion, dance), Bart Van Lierde (electric bass, contrabass), Wim De Busser (grand piano, keyboard), Amel Serra García (percussion), Eva Tshiela Gysel (vocals, xylophone, percussion, dance). And during 1st season Tuur Marinus (choreography, dance) and Joris Caluwaerts (grand piano, keyboard)
“Dancing with the sound hobbyist thus becomes a masterly dialogue between movement and sound, an adventurous dance trip through the cosmopolitan music world of Zita Swoon”KAAItheater, Brussels BE
“Concert dansed in zero-gravity. The group proposes another path for revisiting the obligatory exercise of the concert. More risky in a funny way, and more exciting in another way. All the essentials are there: musicians and singer sport an improbable look with an electric blue suit, fluorescent shoes, pinstriped pants and vests, solid choristers with swaying hips. The stage being set, the group opens a hidden door and invites us to follow it on a voyage with an unknown destination and no return ticket in hand. The spectacle starts with a dancer in the spotlight, and what a dancer! (…) Little by little, the whole performance takes a singular turn as if both universes were merging: the dancer sings and plays the guitar, the choristers are also dancers and instrumentalists, the singer and the musicians dance. On a musical level, the group stupefies with its freedom and daring melodies carried by the talented musicians who, with a delicate and energetic ‘touch’, caress a piano, stroke a xylophone or push a bass into its deepest stronghold. (…) In this flight forward, one surprise chases the other: soft and slow instrumentals, pieces played with howling guitars, luxuriant folk carried by Stef Kamil Carlens’ nasal voice. Finally, no less than fifty instruments are set in motion to carry the lucky hits of this inspired orchestra. And we leave happy and filled with a mild intoxication obtained through weightless travel.” Bruno Lafosse Saint-Etienne du Rouvray FR
“Dancing with the sound hobbyist is an original-concert, a dialog between energy and emotion” ck*cultuurcentrum, Kortrijk BE
“Zita Swoon goes to town with samples, toys and all sorts of curious instruments, says the folder. It sounds more playful than it really is, because the guitars may be small and toy-like, the band’s sound is mature. No amateur compositions, which you’d expect from a ‘sound hobbyist’, but well crafted compositions.
Tightly structured, but there’s always that unpredictability.”
“From silent piano to almost noise, and Mayer maneuvers himself effortlessly through all these atmospheres. Like a too tightly wound up satellite the dancer bounces around a marching drummer, while the band momentarily sounds like an electric circus orchestra. Later he tries to surround the singers Eva and Kapinga Gysel with a multitude of dance moves. The sisters are freed from their usual spot behind the microphones and are on their knees at the xylophone and dance as if that was their favorite thing.”
“Carlens usually moves around a little angular while making music, but now he shakes off any restraint from his body when he performs rehearsed dance steps in the exuberant ‘Rumble Factory’. Furthermore, he radiates as if he were caught in the act of a secret pleasure. That Mayer grabs a microphone at the same time, and the roles have been reversed- the dancer sings and the singer dances- is a logical result of the deep embrace of two worlds that is this program.”
Hans Nauta, Trouw
“At the start of the set Zita Swoon brings industrial sounding sound scapes and the percussion has an alienating effect. Dancer and musician repeatedly switch roles. Drummer Aarich Jespers grabs his snare drums and strolls along in a shuffle with Mayer’s frivolous movements in contrast. Singers Eva and Kapinga Gysel saunter along the edge to funky bass lines and frivolous Cuban percussion. Simon Mayer shoots past like a raunchy rooster and surrenders to unwelcome intimacies. Kamil Carlens is at his best when he gives expression to his more somber songs. Beautifully arranged, often with a lead role for the string plucking Flemish musician. His timbre and timing appear to have gained in strength over the years. For now, the new material isn’t being brought out on CD. He should reconsider this decision because this belongs to the best Carlens has ever created. Goodbye narrow-mindedness or downtrodden paths, here is a man who integrates everything with a helicopter perspective. And sticks his neck out. Those who embraced the heavenly cross-pollination of song, dance and rhythm saw a beautiful performance on Friday.”
Hans Keijzers, Leidsch Dagblad
“The band is silent as dancer Simon Mayer is on his back, rolling around more and more uneasily, and creates the first sounds as he moves his squeaking hands forward over the stage – as if he were bracing himself for what’s to come. And that’s a lot. Wing, raw synthesizer sounds, a man-sized sheet of metal with gong potential, a plastic rattle snake to throw around, bass, guitars, effect pedals. Amel Serra Garcia, a percussionist with Cuban background, proceeds to set the tone with rhythms that float and continuously and unexpectedly tap the ground with their toes. Stef Kamil Carlens sings how the helmets were pulled on and how it’ll be when the war is over (Beautiful)- a little hoarse, the way he sounds when grand tales are told.”
Hans Nauta for Trouw
“It isn’t a performance with a big ‘message’. It is, however, a concert that exudes what Stef Kamil Carlens has stood for the past 15 years: partly melancholic, but also an optimistic view of life with its small, close answers to large questions- let us please be a little kind and social to each other, don’t let war and doom push love away.”
Peter Bruyn for het Parool
“Dancing With The Sound Hobbyist doesn’t have a story line. The title refers to the hobby we still have aside from our job: making music” laughs Stef Kamil. “I want a performance with beautiful music, that is also physically interesting and looks pretty. I didn’t look for a way to work theatrically with dance. Some songs tell a story, but the rest is just good audio with visual.”
Gunter Jacobs for GVA