Wordless Wednesday: Bridge (Croton Reservoir)

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Bridge (Croton Reservoir)

If you haven’t done so yet, please check out my latest gig report on Reconnaissance Fly.

(As usual, info on the picture is revealed in the comments.)

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Reconnaissance Fly with Hay Fever and The Sibleys at The Palms

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Today we look at the first of Reconnaissance Fly’s recent shows in the high desert of southern California near Joshua Tree. This show took place at The Palms in Wonder Valley, California. Wonder Valley is an odd place east of the town of Twentynine Palms. Wonder Valley is a community of sorts, but not really a town in its own right (indeed, I’m still trying to figure out what exactly Wonder Valley is). But the Palms is a destination for locals and others and often features live music.

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The evening opened with The Sibleys, which featured Laura Sibley on guitar/vocals and James Sibley on drums. They also happen to be the owners and operators of The Palms.

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Their original songs could be described as energetic rock-and-roll, with fun lyrics – I think many of us went away remembering “Black Kawasaki, I feel lucky…” And Laura Sibleys strumming and solos pushed the music forward. They were definitely a favorite among the local crowd, some of whom could be seen dancing.

Next up was Hay Fever, featuring Emily Hay on flute and vocals with Wayne Peet on various keyboards, and Steuart Liebig on bass and effects.

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Hay Fever is an improvising group, with a continuous ever-changing stream of music that spans the entire set. There were many moments that would fit into a “space music” show, with drones and arpeggios, but also more intense sections with vocals and playing, and very sparse moments leading back into a thick fog of sound. Liebig’s bass playing added some particularly interesting textures to the rest of the group’s sound.

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Then it was time for us, Reconnaissance Fly, to take the stage.

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We did a set that featured several of our tracks from the album, as well as some of the newer songs. Particularly when we got to the funkier tunes like Itzirktna or the harder rock sounds heads and ears from the bar turned in our direction. It may not have been our tightest performance, but we had a lot of fun and presented with energy.

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Overall, it was quite an experience to play at The Palms, perhaps a bit surreal given the desert surroundings and activity around us. We certainly hope to come back again some time.

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CatSynth video: Akai wolf with snare rolls

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From DrOctave1 on YouTube, via matrixsynth.

“”Akai wolf with snare rolls and cat paws”

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CatSynth pic: Serge Cat! (Church of the Super Serge)

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Serge cat

From my friend Elise Gargalikis, half of Slope114 and one of the organizers of the Church of the Super Serge at ROBOTPEAk. I am excited to be playing a show them tomorrow at ROBOTSPEAk’s 2014 Bay Area Synth Meet! Drop by tomorrow afternoon, 589 1/2 Haight Street here in San Francisco! I play at 3:30, but a lot of other great artists and synth makers to check out all day.

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Wordless Wednesday: Low Ceiling (Joshua Tree)

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Joshua Tree

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CatSynth pic: Sleepy Keyboardist

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sleepy keyboardist cat

Submitted by ⓉⒺⒸⒽℕ⌽▃ⒾⒹ●⒞⒪⒨ via Twitter:

“My #Keyboardist just felt asleep…”

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A Personal Remembrance of David Wessel

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wessel_at_slab_0I was very shocked and saddened to hear that David Wessel, Director of the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT), passed away suddenly on October 13. There have been quite a few thoughtful and strong tributes written in the past few days. Mine is more focused on our personal connection and his influences on my work and interests.

When I came to CNMAT in the mid 1990s, David Wessel was already well established in our small but growing community of academic music with computers. He had already made major influences in the field including timbre spaces and software for real-time musical performance. His focus, both in his own work, and those whom he guided, was on expressive musical performance. Through his introduction, I began working on research that included both of these influences. Along with Adrian Freed, Matt Wright, and others, we embarked are a run of successful research projects and publications, several of which remain influential.

As part of my thesis work, he and I did a version of his groundbreaking piece Antony, which features hundreds of moving partials in frequency space using my OSW software. I am hoping to resurrect the software for that in the coming weeks, but until now this video gives a sense of what this piece is about.

I did also have a chance to work on musical composition and performance at CNMAT. I was quite influenced and inspired by Wessel’s work with controllers and real-time synthesis, especially in ways that preserved the physical embodiment of performance – physical gestures mapped intuitively to musical sounds and ideas, rather than sitting behind a laptop. Although my music and performance style has evolved in very different directions since then, the principle of physical gestures guiding technology for music that he championed has remained a core part of my electronic music.

We got to attend many conferences together, including several years of the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC), where he was always ready to include me and others in social gatherings with colleagues from all over the world – he seemed to know everyone in the field. The beer, wine, and spirits often flowed freely, as did the conversation, veering from personal to deeply intellectual ideas in mathematics or psychology. This picture below was taken in Barcelona in 2005, and also includes Roberto Morales and Clarence Barlow.

David Wessel, Roberto Morales, Clarence Barlow

In addition to attending these conferences, he continued to support my participation in musical and research activities and remain a part of the community, most notably sponsoring me for a prestigious Regents’ Lecturer spot in 2011. He had joined the faculty and advisory board of Berkeley’s ParLab for research in advanced parallel computing, and part of the appointment was to give talks and work with students there, but he also made sure that it included the chance to give a solo concert at CNMAT. I still recall the glowing and generous introduction he made for me at the start of the evening. Indeed I was deeply touched by it. I had the chance to return the favor early this year when I introduced him for a panel at the Bone Flute to Auto Tune conference at Berkeley. It was the last time I saw and spoke with him in person.

The entire community around CNMAT and the greater community he touched have been mourning the passing of David Wessel, as well as celebrating is personal, artistic and technological influences. There will be events to remember and celebrate his life over the next month, and I hope to be there for some of them.

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Wordless Wednesday: Oil Fields, Kern County, CA

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Oil Fields, Kern County, CA

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CatSynth pic and audio: USB Accelerometer Cat Music!

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From Chrissie Caulfield via Twitter:

I attached a Hot Hand USB accelerometer to a cat collar and let Sophie run around and chase a fish-on-a-stick toy for a little while. I captured the MIDI output from this and fed it into a synth on Ableton Live. This is the result!

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CatSynth pic: 2001 Moog Odyssey?

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Moog as monolith

Moog as monolith! Created by Christopher Anderson for Cats on Synthesizers in Space, and submitted to CatSynth by both Jill Burton and Moe! Staiano via Facebook.

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