Posts Tagged ‘the wulf’

Seth Cluett, Michael Pisaro and Friends at the wulf

Hoboken, NJ-based Seth Cluett and guests Isaac Aronson, Ben Levinson, Luke Martin, Michael Pisaro and Andrew Young performed an evening of experimental electronic music on Sunday April 10, 2016 at the wulf. A full house was on hand to hear separately scored duos played simultaneously along with a second set that had six musicians improvising on electronic devices.

First up was The Lost Quartet, by Michael Pisaro, performed by the composer on electric guitar with Ben Levinson on acoustic bass while Seth Cluett and Andrew Young played a second electronic duo simultaneously. This began very quietly with low, soft tones followed by a rapid burst of pianissimo notes from the electric guitar that sounded a bit like an old Geiger counter, only with musical notes instead of clicks. A pencil striking the guitar strings occasionally produced a somewhat louder sound while sine tones and scratching noises were heard from the second duo. Ben Levinson added a very slight trilling sound on one string of the bass that was barely audible . All of this was consistently quiet and understated – very subdued music.

The two duos were completely independent – driven by certain sequences of pitches or by events marked on a time line. They overlapped elegantly, however, as each piece was deliberately paced and operating at the same minimal dynamic levels throughout. A quieter venue, in fact, might have been preferred – street and freeway noises from the open windows occasionally drifted into the performance space. As it was, the very soft playing invited an intense concentration in the listening, making any intrusion that much more noticeable.

At the midpoint, the phrases coming from the electric guitar increased slightly in strength and it seemed as if the other sounds followed. The sequence of quiet scratching noises, sine tones and soft bass sounds continued as before. The overall effect of this piece was to remove the viewpoint of the listener to a far distance – as if observing something just at the limits of aural awareness. The pieces concluded with the sounds gradually becoming less frequent and a solitary electronic tone fading slowly away. The Lost Quartet, as combined with the Seth Cluett duo, is an interesting experiment in the similarities and compatibility of independent pieces played simultaneously, with each managing to compliment the other in the final realization.

After a short intermission Seth Cluett presented a thoughtful tribute to the late Tony Conrad in the form of a short recording of sustained mixed voices and electronic tones. These were woven together in cycles so that at times there was a noticeable distortion while at other points in the cycle the sounds were more coherently consonant. The contrast and spiritual feel of this made for a fitting memorial.

An extended improvisation followed, involving a total of six musicians all performing with electronic devices. The floor of the wulf was covered with patch cables, power cords, amplifiers, speakers, sequencers, and even a turntable with a vinyl record. The opening was a rhythmic, percussive sound that increased in tempo and included an occasional banging noise – like hearing some construction equipment working nearby. This was joined by aggressive electronic sounds and static so that the piece began to faintly resemble a rap performance. The record spinning on the turntable was tapped by the performer to slow or stop the rotation, giving a halting character to its output and this contributed a distinctly urban street flavor to the overall sound.. The electronic pitches climbed higher, became more animated and gained in volume so that at one point it felt as if the listener was inside an old shortwave radio. The electronics sounds continued to increase in their intensity, almost to the threshold of pain. The spinning turntable provided a visual focus, inviting the listener to process the sounds as music, and this added to the sense of ensemble despite the wide variety of pitches and exotic electronic timbres filling the room. At length the powerful sounds moderated, the lower tones dropping out and the persistent, higher pitches gradually fading away. This improvisation was a vivid example of what can be created on the spot with unconventional sounds and the common vision of independent artists.

Upcoming performances at the wulf will feature the music of Michael Winter on April 15 and Scott Cazan on April 30.

Update on the wulf: The building that has housed the wulf for some 8 years has been sold and the wulf expects to relocate in July or August. No new location has been announced and the search continues.

Review: String Quartets at the wulf

On Friday, January 8, 2015 String Quartets, a concert of new music, was presented at the wulf in downtown Los Angeles. A capacity crowd turned out to hear two new pieces composed by Aaron Foster Bresley and Luke Martin.

The first piece on the program was barrier – bend/erect, by Aaron Foster Bresley. The players were situated in the four corners of the performance space and the sound filled the room, coming at the listener from all directions. The piece began with a rough, scratchy sound from each player; distortion produced by applying extra bow pressure on certain strings.  At the same time, more familiar pitches and tones could be heard coming from strings bowed conventionally. The overall texture was very rough and mostly unchanging, and yet the tones that fought their way through the scratchy distortion served to focus the concentration of the listener. The brain worked on these tonal fragments to fashion virtual melodies, and after a few minutes the piece acquired its own musical syntax and vocabulary.

The score for barrier – bend/erect runs to about a dozen pages for each player, with each staff line showing the strings to be played with distortion and those to be heard as pitches. A stopwatch timer was placed on each music stand, and the pages were played for a certain duration before moving on. The players randomize the score pages prior to the start of the piece so that each performance becomes a unique experience. The various instruments entered or went tacet in changing combinations as the score required, providing some dynamic changes – but the consistency of the texture was remarkable given the intonation specified. Barrier – bend/erect is a deceptively simple piece that rewards the careful listener with an impressive scope of expression in the absence of conventional musical landmarks.

After a short intermission, three sections residues by Luke Martin were heard. Residues is a collection of five graphic scores for string quartet recorded in January of 2015 and there were lines of associated poetry included in the program. The players assumed a more conventional seating arrangement for this, clustered together in the center of the space. Movement 1, remembrances, began with a series of soft, airy sounds produced by a continuous feathering motion of the bows on the strings. This was very quiet and carefully played by the quartet, just at the edge of intonation and audibility. A few bursts solitary higher notes were heard at times coming from the violin, and these stood out clearly against the pianissimo background. The evocative power of this simple combination was notable – taking the listener deep into a forest, a slight breeze rustling the trees and the occasional bird call breaking the silence.

Movement 3 of residues followed and began with low tones in the cello and quiet tones in the violin that produced an air of mystery mixed with tension. The players began whispering, and although unintelligible, this added to cryptic feeling. The dynamic was a bit louder than the first movement, if still on the quiet side, and the tension increased to include a sense of menace as the piece progressed. There were stretches of complete silence at times – on one occasion this continued for what seemed like several minutes, building an intense curiosity in the audience. When the whispering and playing finally resumed, it was as if we observing some strange and secret ritual.

Movement 5, titled unfoldings, consisted of a sustained tutti chord lacking in any sort of beat or rhythm. The players kept this tightly under control, producing an impressively steady sound. Despite the consistent texture, the feeling in this piece was unsettled and apprehensive – like hearing a distant siren. At times the players sang long vocal pitches, adding to the anxious feel. Although there is little obvious variation in unfoldings, the artfully understated changes in tonal color effectively held the interest of the listener.

Residues is a remarkable exploration of the limits of musical perception; its quiet passages and subtle textures creating a space for the mind to focus and the sound to inform.

The performers for this concert were:

Jonathan Tang – violin
Yvette Holtzwarth – violin
Joy Yi – viola
Thea Mesirow – cello

Review: Experimental Music Yearbook Concert at the wulf

On Friday, November 6, 2015 the wulf presented a concert by members of the Experimental Music Yearbook. A full house turned out to hear three pieces by Katherine Young, Brian Harnetty and Jennifer Walshe, all connected by a common theatrical thread.

Graveled crumbled strewn by Katherine Young was first up and performed by a large group that included strings, winds, guitar, electronics and a video. This began with a single pitch from the soprano sax, matched in the violin whose tone quickly broke down into a rough, scratchy sound, like a cable under tension. Breathy sounds came from the flute while the lower strings produced a calm, welcoming chord and it was as if we were standing outside on some open, windswept hill. Meanwhile, the video showed construction equipment in the distance with the sounds of heavy, mechanical clanking. The instruments picked up this theme and began to issue a series of industrial sounds – the snap of a cello string and some humming in the horns. This portrayal – aided by the images in the video – proved very convincing, as if we were in the middle of a construction site, surrounded by powerful mechanical activity. With a steady siren blast from the horns, as might be heard for a shift change, the sounds ceased. Graveled crumbled strewn is a convincing realization of forceful earth moving processes experienced in close proximity.

Liam Mooney next performed “Could I Tell You a Little Story About That?” by Brian Harnetty, on the vibraphone. This began in retro fashion with a vintage cassette tape recorder playing soundtracks from old TV shows. The dialogue was definitely dated – perhaps mid-20th century – with a distinctly rural character. Soft, solitary tones came from the vibraphone and this added a warm, nostalgic feel to words heard from the tape track. One could almost imagine a black and white TV set with the family gathered around. The archival recordings created a powerful empathy and the soothing sounds from the vibraphone perfectly complimented the scene. “Could I Tell You a Little Story About That?” is imaginatively conceived and was beautifully played.

An ensemble of strings, saxophones, flute and guitar performed the final piece on the program, Zusammen I by Jennifer Walshe. Complete silence began this piece, followed by breathy sounds from the winds and a light set of notes from the guitar. The strings joined in, with cello laying down a solid foundation that gave this section a prelude-like feel. Another minute of silence with a similar sequence followed. A bowed bowl produced a lovely high pitch that seemed to float above the listeners, adding a sense of mystery. Ms Walshe lives in Ireland and this music brought to mind a dark moor far out in the country. Another spell of silence and then one of the performers stood up and began walking among the players with a purposeful stride. Low tones in the cello deepened this riddle as the other strings joined in quietly. More silence and then two of the performers retired to a corner of the space, embraced, and began a slow dance. The horns gave out a solid tutti passage full of warm and welcoming chords as if we were in a familiar place – perhaps a local pub. Another player began to stagger about, perhaps drunk, as the dancers continued their slow-motion rocking. More sweet sounds from the ensemble completed the vignette as the piece concluded in silence. Zusammen I is an affectionate, intimate look at the customs of lesser-known society.

Performers for The Experimental Music Yearbook were Casey Anderson, Jennifer Bewerse, Casey Butler, Scott Cazan, Morgan Gerstmar, Josh Gerowitz, John P. Hastings, Todd Lerew, Liam Mooney, Stephanie Smith, and Christine Tavolacci.

the wulf's Santa Fe street location

the wulf’s Santa Fe street location

Added Note: It was announced at this concert that the building on Sante Fe Street that has been the home of the wulf for the last seven years is being sold. The plan is to move the wulf to a new site, but the details are still being worked out. For the latest information please visit their website: http://www.thewulf.org/

Review: KinoEar at the wulf

On Friday July 3, 2015 the wulf featured a presentation by KinoEar, a collaboration between composer Ma’ayan Tsadka and visual media artist Danielle Williamson. A surprisingly ample holiday-weekend crowd turned out to witness the video documentation of a fascinating series of found instruments, their associated sounds and the relationship they have to their physical surroundings.

The first video was made at the McHenry Library at UC Santa Cruz, on the outside stair case. This stairway is made completely of steel and has railing posts about 6 inches apart. A large wooden stick from a nearby tree was used to strike each of the railing posts in passing as a person walked down several flights. This generated a series of wonderfully booming tones – almost bell-like in timbre, yet unmistakeably metallic and mundane at the same time. The video reinforced the image of a utilitarian stairwell, but the sounds were often musical. The pitch seemed to lower somewhat as the bottom levels of the stairs were reached and the sound receded into the distance. At other times a rapid trilling was achieved by moving the stick rapidly back and forth between two railing posts. At one point the entire steel staircase was struck, generating great resonant thunderclaps. All of this was captured with a boom microphone, field recorder and simple video camera. The intriguing part is that your brain has to determine what sounds are musical and bell-like and what is simply metallic noise. The tones and video cross back and forth over this boundary and the listener is constantly evaluating the images and the sounds.

The next video sequence featured rocks being thrown at a steel drainage grate in the middle of a field. When a rock struck, a bright chiming sound was heard – like being inside a small clockwork striking the hour. The tones and length of reverberation varied, and eventually a person was seen striking the grate repeatedly with a rock, generating different volume levels depending on the force. Finally, a rock was dragged over the entire grate, creating a rapid clatter of chimes that was very musical. The visual presence of the utilitarian grate in the middle of the field belied the brilliance of its sound and this made for an interesting contrast.

A third video showed a tube emerging from a cement casing and the open end was struck with a wooden stick. Several video images of this were shown simultaneously and this gave a sort of rhythm to the sequence. The sounds were not bright or even metallic, but rather a light glassy clanking that echoed down the tube and returned again with a characteristic  thump.

There was also a series of videos made at Yosemite and in the first of these the sights and sounds of traffic roaring through a darkened tunnel proved both powerful and frightening. The camera then follows a side tunnel and all is serene until the end is reached, revealing a spectacular view of the valley below. Another sequence featured rocks thrown into Chilnualna Creek and these landed in the water with a series of satisfying splashes of varying pitch and character. Anyone who has done this as a child will sense the nostalgia that this evokes and mentally calculate the size of the rock from its splash.

Another Yosemite location centered on a large stair railing, and when this was struck it gave off a chime big enough for a cathedral bell. Other parts of the railing gave off higher and lighter pitches and birds could be heard squawking in the background This was done at dawn with a video image of Half Dome looming above – an almost church-like setting – and a definite zen sensibility. In the final sequence a large tree was struck in various places on its trunk and this produced, variously, a full, booming resonance or a lighter clicking sound depending on where the blow was struck. Three images and sounds were combined and this brought to mind a sort of primal drumming.

Like the music of Pauline Oliveros, KinoEar has captured sounds that have two simultaneous contexts and it is left to the listener’s brain to separate the musical from the prosaic. These KinoEar videos are a thoughtful exploration into the relationship between images, music and acoustics.

Several of the KinoEar videos are available here.

 

Review: Casey Anderson and Friends in Concert

The wulf in downtown Los Angeles was the site for a concert of the experimental music of composer Casey Anderson. A nice Sunday night crowd turned out on April 19, 2015 to hear an evening of new music at the leading edge of the performance vanguard.

The first piece was TALK RADIO (an opera), 2011 and for this eight performers were equipped with portable radios and headphones. Their instructions were to continuously tune through the dial – independently and without coordination – and repeat what was heard when a radio station came into hearing. Random phrases, sports scores, jingles and snatches of music were heard by the audience as spoken or sung by the performers. Static was also heard on occasion, as represented by a spoken rushing sound. Phrases such as “Line of credit…”, “Quite heavy still on the northbound 5…” or “Right out of the blocks, you get healthy…” were spoken.  These came randomly as they were heard in the headphones and the phrases were sometimes repeated. Sometimes a tone heard on the radio – perhaps as part of a song – was sung and held by a performer as it was encountered on the radio dial. Here is a short video of a part of this piece that was made during rehearsal:

At times all were silent, and at other times two or more performers stepped forward as ‘soloists’. There were tutti sections when everyone was singing or repeating snatches of advertisements, editorials or traffic reports, and these were quite lively. Sometimes the fragments were quite poignant as when “Oh I’m in pain” was heard, along with pieces of a radio preacher’s sermon. TALK RADIO is perfectly named because what the audience hears are chunks of radio prose and music, but drained of all the production values and hype. It is as if someone you know is telling you about the latest news without the breathless, hyperbolic style we are accustomed to hearing when we listen to the radio. TALK RADIO is an engaging experiment in perception and translation and one that is both a random and unique experience.

false positives (2015) followed and this involved four drums fitted with microphones and amplification. Tuning forks of various frequencies were struck simultaneously, and the base of each applied to a drum head. The amplification immediately picked up the pitches and projected a strong, pure tone. This was quite startling at first; the striking of the forks had a small, distant sound – like silverware dropped on the floor in another room. But once applied to the drum heads the sound took on a boldness as the various frequencies mixed together, and then slowly died away. The process was repeated, with different sets of tuning forks, and this consistently produced a clean, but somewhat alien feel. The sounds produced were impressive nonetheless, and one could sense that the energy was being concentrated in a set of single frequencies. false positives was an interesting experiment in the perception of a small pure sound that is suddenly amplified.

After the intermission SLIPS (2015) began by six performers who recite “…a text distorted via loosely synchronized extensions to vowels or sibilants.” This took the form of speaking in unison the word taken from an image-filled story while every few seconds a tone was sung and held for a few moments by a single reader. The pace of the speaking was fairly rapid and this often carried the suggestion of a rhythm or cadence. As the story progressed a picture begins to form in your mind and when a pitch was sung by one of the performers your brain quickly associates an emotional color to that text, separate and apart from the image created by the words. It was as if the tone was shorthand for the longer effort of constructing a word image from the story and connecting it with a distinct feeling. The text seemed to veer off at odd times, restarting the process of assembling a mental image – and then a tone would be heard that produced an immediate emotional reaction. This contrast in the timing of the contending feelings provoked by two compartments of the brain are a fascinating study in personal perception and SLIPS would seem to have much to teach us about the relationship between lyrics and music.

The final piece of the evening was KARAOKE (2015) and for this five performers with headphones listened to the same album and individually created a sort of “quasi-private accompaniment.“ The audience heard only what was produced by the performers and this took the form of some humming, singing and whistling along with various kinds of drumming, tapping and rhythm-making, as well as the occasional piano run or saxophone riff. None of this was intentionally coordinated, each performer being fairly well isolated by headphones from the sounds produced by the others. Even so, the combined sounds heard by the audience often achieved a noticeable groove. This had an authentically primal sound, like something that might be heard around a camp fire fifty thousand years ago. As the album played through its various tracks you could sense a regrouping by the performers and it took a few minutes for the aggregate sound to come back into focus, much like a street-corner quartet feeling for tune. KARAOKE is an engaging piece that produces music almost as if by telepathy and makes an interesting point about the necessity of an organizational performance structure.

The performers in this concert were Casey Anderson, Jon Armstrong, Rick Bahto, Brendan Carn, Josh Gerowitz, Morgan Gerstmar, Todd Lerew, Liam Mooney, Stephanie Smith, Christine Tavolacci, Colin Wambsgans, Joe Westerlund, Michael Winter, and Andrew Young.

The next concert at the wulf will be May 5, 2015 at 8:00 PM featuring the music of Michael Pisaro and Graham Lambkin.

 

Review: Colin Wambsgans at the wulf

The wulf in downtown Los Angeles was the venue for a performance of the compositions of Colin Wambsgans on Saturday night, March 21, 2015. The cozy spaces of the Wulf filled up with a friendly crowd ready to experience experimental music and field recordings in a concert titled wherever you are, there you’re at.

The first section of the concert consisted of three pieces described in the program notes as “text scores, mostly in unison.” The structure of these was similar – a stopwatch is used to set ten second intervals, followed by the start of a phrase with all the players in unison. For the first piece, 55 Things (2013), each of the various players to continued to play independently for the number of times indicated in the text score. The instrumentation was varied and diverse, consisting of everything from a soprano saxophone, an accordion, a number of toy percussion items, a large rat trap and what seemed to be the contents of several kitchen drawers.

Each passage began in unison with a wonderful roar of sound that gradually lessened and changed in timbre and texture as the various players finished the sequence of their assigned soundings – all in the span of just a few seconds. The approximately equal mixture of traditional acoustic instruments and found objects produced a unique texture and feel to each passage as it was played. Sometimes the effect was alarming and chaotic and at other times more familiar and musical. Every ten seconds the listener was presented with new and instantaneous decisions about how to deal with the timbre, textures and emotions that were being broadcast. Interestingly for the listener, the brain would often impose a musical context over the combination of sounds that were heard. 55 Things is an intriguing piece that challenges the listener’s instinctive discrimination between sound and music, ultimately sharpening and extending the limits of our aural perceptions.

The second piece on the program was Five* Minutes for Percussion Quartet (2014), and this consisted of a more traditional array of drums, gongs, triangles and wood blocks. The stopwatch was again employed to set the ten second intervals, but just prior to the unison entrances one of the players would conduct a tempo for the others to follow. In this way a more familiar musical sound and pulse was produced and this acted to enhance the listener’s organization of the sound into a musical perception. The phrases lasted only a few seconds, but they had a strong feel of familiarity, like hearing a fragment of something you knew, but couldn’t quite identify. The use of the more familiar instruments and gestures in Five* Minutes for Percussion Quartet made for a somewhat more accessible entry into Wambsgans methods.

Soft Targets (2015) was next and this was scored for piano, guitar and several percussion pieces, all led by a violinist who kept time for the ten second intervals. As before, the players entered in unison but for this piece there was just a single note played or struck. When the piano was included the chord that was sounded by the ensemble has a strong musical feel – otherwise the percussion, guitar and violin – playing her notes pizzicato – tended to produce a sharp, short chord that dissipated somewhat more rapidly than would have been ideal given the acoustics of the room. Even so, there were detectable feelings of tension at times and a more optimistic sound at other times. As the piece progressed the pitches gradually rose and some of the chords took on a questioning feel, while others seemed to be offering an answer. The chords could be delicate and ethereal, but also sharp and edgy. Soft Targets was perhaps the more structured and intentional of the works in this concert, but the short duration of each chord made for challenging listening and inevitably the outside noise that floated in occasionally obscured the hearing.

Another variant of Wambsgans composition technique was heard last year at Boston Garden employing an ensemble of horns and strings that produced chords of sustained – and powerful – tones.  This arrangement delivered a somewhat less ambiguous sound than some of the more subtle instances in this concert at the Wulf. The three variations heard on this occasion were all interesting explorations of an experimental style that offers the observant listener much to examine.

After an intermission an extended field recording was heard titled wherever you are, there you’re at (2014-2015). This began with the sound of a soft rain falling, water running in a downspout and a whistling tea kettle – as if this was the beginning of the day. Presently outside sounds were heard – the voices of neighborhood kids, a jet in the distance and more street sounds. All of this gave the impression of embarking on some sort of journey and more clues came in the form of vehicle sounds, train station announcements and a busking clarinet player. The audio-only track tends to focus the concentration of the listener, and the game of trying to determine the destination continued as the piece progressed. There was a stretch of hearing a distant trumpet player practicing and some animated street conversation in a foreign language. At the end of the recording, the lively street conversations were accompanied by the chirping of birds, conjuring an affectionate equivalence. wherever you are, there you’re at invites the audience to listen carefully in order to assess the location and intentions of the unseen traveler while enjoying the rich visual detail constructed thereby in the mind’s eye.

The performers in this concert were:

Casey Anderson
Justin Asher
Corey Fogel
Liam Mooney
Chris Porter
Stephanie Smith
Michael Winter
Todd Rue

The next event at the wulf will be on March 29, 2015 featuring the music of Powerdove and Ulrich Krieger.

Review: Doron Sadja and Byron Westbrook at the wulf

On Saturday, February 7, 2015 the wulf presented works by Byron Westbrook and Doron Sadja. The friendly confines of the wulf were nicely filled with a crowd that heard an evening of field recordings from Westbrook and selections from Doron Sadja’s electronic work, In Slow Motions.

According to the program notes, the recordings of Brooklyn-based Byron Westbrook explore “…listening, space, perception and awareness, often pursuing routes with social engagement. His electronic sound interventions play with dynamics of perception of space, sometimes as multi-channel sound performances or as installation work using video or lighting.”

The first group of recordings presented were monophonic and captured a single happening outdoors with the microphone acting as a sort of aural camera. Walking a path near a power plant produced a loud 60 cycle hum that alternately increased in volume or faded into the background. There was the low roar of machinery at times, and also the sound of people talking. When the hum predominated there was the opportunity to focus on the pitch itself – removed from its visual power plant context – creating a sort of La Monte Young moment. In another recording at the same place, the soft rumbling of machinery contrasted with the loud chirping of a flock of birds and this served to even the balance of nature in the listeners ear for what must have been an overwhelmingly industrial location.

In another recording, a speaker issuing white noise was placed near the microphone and this was heard along with crickets and other natural background sounds. As the white noise came into the hearing it took on an ambiguous character in the listener’s mind. Sounding at times like a waterfall or maybe a hissing steam pipe, the listener had to decide if it was part of the natural environment or not.

A recording of a violin being played under a freeway produced another interesting effect – as the violin predominated, the familiar image of a musical instrument came to mind. When the freeway noise was dominant, it naturally produced an image of cars passing overhead. But as these sounds cross-faded in and out there were times when the listener conflated the sounds: the freeway was music and the violin part of the traffic. This is a technique that has been effectively employed by John Luther Adams in his outdoor works songbirdsongs and Inuksuit – the periods of silence in these pieces allow the natural environment to become part of the music.

Other Westbrook recordings explored spatial relationships by incorporating two microphones. One involved a power transformer and street noise, another a tambura simulator in two locations. There was also a recording of natural ambient sounds – and the ubiquitous traffic noise – from a local canyon. Another recording had four guitars playing sustained pitches, and as the piece progressed the listener heard, variously, musical harmonies, simple drone hums and somewhat more mysterious, alien sounds. Perhaps the most striking field recording that was presented was a viola playing on a roof top near an exhaust fan. The viola played a sustained note at about the same pitch as the fan – and as the two sounds faded in and out it became difficult to tell where one started and the other left off. Lacking any visual clues, this piece offered elegant evidence of how just much the listener’s brain improvises when descriptive details are missing.

The field recordings presented by Byron Westbrook invite the listener to examine what is being heard, and to question – or at least try to understand – the factors at work influencing our aural perceptions.

biopic2

Doron Sadja followed with his electronic composition In Slow Motions and this was realized by a table full of computers, synthesizers and mixers. A projector was included that added a video display to the mix. The piece began with a series of deep rumblings that were effectively amplified by the sound system. This was a low, primal roar – like being inside a volcano and hearing massive tectonic stresses groaning deep within the earth. At one point there was an explosive sound that made everyone jump in their seat and this was followed by even more powerful rumbles – the kind you feel more than hear. The combination of the darkness, the powerful sound system and synthesized booming were just on the edge of producing real anxiety.

As the piece progressed the sounds became somewhat more industrial – metallic grinding and something that might be a train horn. These remained very strong but slowly evolved into something more mournful. The projections on the wall were not controlled directly by the sounds, but consisted of a series of precise patterns and colors that gave a welcome sense of order and purpose. As the piece progressed the sounds evolved from earthly and organic to more industrial and civilized. There were sirens, the squeal of brakes, a series of clicks and taps that all pointed towards a more technical environment. Towards the end there were musical sounds along with a sunny yellow projection that seemed to hint at optimism.

In Slow Motions was improvised by Sadja as it unfolded – there was no programming element to the sequence of sounds and projections. There did seem be an arc to it, from an earthy, violent beginning towards a post-civilized future. In Slow Motions is a power-filled electronic realization combining sound and image.

The next activity at the wulf will be Saturday, February 14 at 8:00 PM and will feature
Lisa Truttmann and Guido Spannocchi who will present Elsewhere Lands, a multi-layered media project about theme parks and their audio-visual abstractions.

On February 28 at 8:00 PM Colin Wambsgans will appear.

Free Show Alert: Music of Anastassis Philippakopoulos tonight at the wulf

Man, we’ve had a ton of these this week! That’s a good thing though, especially for those of us who don’t want to drop $100 to hang out in a cemetery in Hollywood (can you tell I didn’t get Sigur Ros tickets?).

Tonight’s show comes courtesy of the wulf, which actually has a ton of events coming up, all of which are, and will always be, free. From their website:

04.20.2012 8:00 pm
Music of Anastassis Philippakopoulos
A selection of instrumental Songs and Five Piano Pieces by Anastassis Philippakopoulos. Performed by Mark So, William Powell, Kathy Pisaro and Christine Tavolacci. Also Michael Pisaro will play "24 petits préludes pour la guitare" by Antoine Beuger
.

Details are at thewulf.org/events.html.

A bunch of calendar updates, and two interviews, and BIG news are all on the way, so keep an eye out.

Announcing the existence of the Gnarwhallaby, and encouraging you to support Synchromy

I received a facebook invitation from my friend Richard Valittuto (pianist, in wild Up, blew everyone’s collective mind with his performance of Gubaidulina’s Introitus back in May) today that I feel deserves some public attention, seeing as it’s the first performance from a new ensemble, at a relatively new venue.

The ensemble/band/whatnot is called Gnarwhallaby. It’s Richard on piano, Brian Walsh on clarinets, Matt Barbier on trombone, and Derek Stein on cello. Their debut concert is going to be held this Saturday, November 5th, at the the wulf, an experimental art space downtown that seems to be doing all sorts of awesome stuff. Starts at 8, and no price is mentioned in the invitation all shows at the wulf are free. They’ll be playing music by Henryk Gorecki, Edison Denisow, Morton Feldman, Steffan Schleiermacher, Wlodzimierz Kotonski and Marc Sabat.

I’m really sad because I’m going to be out of town this weekend, and would LOVE to hear these guys. You should go.

In other news, I interviewed the composers who formed Synchromy yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve ever tried doing a video interview, and it will be posted soon, ahead of their November 12 concert, which is looking pretty sweet too. They’re currently fundraising for that concert on Kickstarter. If you’d like to support them, you can access the campaign page here.