Y’reka and Pamela Z, Luggage Store Create Music Series

Today we look back at a show featuring music by Pamela Z and the duo Y’reka at the Luggage Store Gallery Creative Music Series, which was still at its temporary home at 998 Market Street.

The evening opened with Y’reka, a duo featuring Aram Shelton on alto saxophone and Owen Stewart-Robinson on guitar. Both Shelton and Stewart-Robinson also had an array of electronic effects.

Y'reka: Aram Shelton and Owen Stewart-Robinson

Their improvised music had a subtle noisy texture overall, with slowly changing timbres and dynamics. There were some moments were the effects triggered more dramatic changes, which especially stood out with the subtle texture. They also successfully combined their electronically-processed tones in sections such that it wasn’t clear who was playing what, a characteristic I often find fun in freely improvised music. The pair did acknowledge the death of Ornette Coleman the previous morning, a gesture that was both appropriate and appreciated by the audience.

Next up was Pamela Z who presented a variety of works for voice, sound electronics and video. This was in part of “preview” of her upcoming full-scale work Memory Trace which will be happening at the Royce Gallery. In addition to her versatile and virtuosic vocal techniques, she controlled a variety of audio processing via sensors both worn and placed in DIY electronic boxes in front of her. There were also several pieces featuring interactive video. One which I had seen before presented an array of real-time clips of Pamela Z from her laptop’s webcam during the performance, which she then appeared to call up as if they were individual percussion instruments.

Pamela Z

There was also an intriguing video featuring a clock and other imagery related to time.

Pamela Z\

Overall, it was quite an interesting pairing of musical sets, and I was happy to be able to see both of them together in one evening.

Fun with Stats: Countries that still have Monarchies

On this Independence Day here in the U.S., a country which has been a continuous republic for over 200 years, we thought it would fun to look at the countries that still have monarchies in 2015.  Most are constitutional monarchies with a limited or ceremonial role, but it still begs the question of why bother with such an expensive and anachronistic institution?

Brunei Absolute monarchy
Oman Absolute monarchy
Qatar Absolute monarchy
Saudi Arabia Absolute monarchy
Swaziland Absolute monarchy
Vatican City Absolute monarchy
Andorra Constitutional monarchy
Antigua and Barbuda Constitutional monarchy
Australia Constitutional monarchy
The Bahamas Constitutional monarchy
Bahrain Constitutional monarchy
Barbados Constitutional monarchy
Belgium Constitutional monarchy
Belize Constitutional monarchy
Bhutan Constitutional monarchy
Cambodia Constitutional monarchy
Canada Constitutional monarchy
Denmark Constitutional monarchy
Grenada Constitutional monarchy
Jamaica Constitutional monarchy
Japan Constitutional monarchy
Jordan Constitutional monarchy
Kuwait Constitutional monarchy
Lesotho Constitutional monarchy
Liechtenstein Constitutional monarchy
Luxembourg Constitutional monarchy
Malaysia Constitutional monarchy
Monaco Constitutional monarchy
Morocco Constitutional monarchy
Netherlands Constitutional monarchy
New Zealand Constitutional monarchy
Norway Constitutional monarchy
Papua New Guinea Constitutional monarchy
Saint Kitts and Nevis Constitutional monarchy
Saint Lucia Constitutional monarchy
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Constitutional monarchy
Solomon Islands Constitutional monarchy
Spain Constitutional monarchy
Sweden Constitutional monarchy
Tonga Constitutional monarchy
Tuvalu Constitutional monarchy
United Arab Emirates Constitutional monarchy
United Kingdom Constitutional monarchy

Beyond actual countries, monarchies and hereditary rulers continue to be a fixture in the fantasy-novel genre, many of which are directly influences by Tolkein’s rather conservative Middle Earth.  Most perplexing of all, however, is the obsession of some Americans with British royalty, the dynasty of the country we declared independence from 239 years ago today.

Outsound Dinner: Nava Dunkelman and Jordan Glenn Duo

As happens every year approximately one month before the Outsound New Music Summit, we gathered for the annual benefit dinner. This year the dinner took place at the Finnish Kaleva Hall in Berkeley, a location steeped in history of its own. There was a good company, delicious food provided by Slippery Fish Catering, and a performance by Nava Dunkelman and Jordan Glenn.

Outsound dinner: Nava Dunkelman and Jorden Glenn
[Photo: peterbkaars.com]

Both Dunkelman and Glenn and accomplished percussionists in the local music scene, but this was the first time they performed together as a duo. And the result was an exceptional performance filled with a variety of textures ranging from subtle to angry and aggressive. There were moments where the individual materials and timbres stood out in stark isolation, and others where the two worked together to form repeating rhythmic patterns (one might even say a “beat”). The two have contrasting styles that they brought from their other projects (I most often see Jorden Glenn as a drummer for bands, and Nava Dunkelman as a collaborator in improvised duos).

Nava Dunkelman
Jordan Glenn
[Photos: peterbkaars.com]

Overall, a great evening of music, food and friends. There were many familiar faces among Outsound’s supporters at the event, but also newcomers, which is always good to see.

20150703-11027462_896646423710494_3122390015389515199_o
[Photo courtesy of Outsound Presents]

Now it is on to the Summit itself, which begins on Sunday, July 26 at the Community Music Center in San Francisco. Please visit Outsound New Music Summit website for a full roster of performances and events, information and tickets, and more on how to support the continuation of new and adventurous music in our community!

CatSynth: The App! for iOS 1.4.142 is released!

CatSynth: The App

CatSynth: The App! for iOS

We’re happy to release the first major update for the iPhone/iPad version of CatSynth: The App!. 1.4.142 (yes, it’s the square root of 2) has the following new features and improvements:

  1. New Mystery Synth #3!
  2. Facebook or email login for comments, favorites and more.
  3. Numerous bug fixes and under-the-hood improvements

It’s that last one that really took the longest: the under-the-hood improvements using a completely rebuilt backend. We might have more to say about the technology that went into it (it’s pretty cool from the point of view of a computer-science geek), but for now we simply ask that if you have an iPhone or iPad, please download and enjoy the new app.

And yes, 1.4.142 for Android is coming soon, too!

A Great Day! #LoveWins

The map is a bit misleading, because it also should include Alaska, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the territories. But this is a great day no matter how one looks at it. Today’s Supreme Court decision ends this particular battle and its sometimes baffling legal opposition once and for all.

The hashtag #LoveWins does feel like a bit of a cop-out in terms of the profundity of this moment. Some of the fears of the opposition are what make it momentous – we stared down traditional mores and prejudices and powerful social and religious institutions and won! But at the same time the decision and result just affirms them. Anyone who has been to a same sex wedding (at least in the U.S.) knows that it differs not at all from the variety of customs in opposite-sex weddings.

The already famous lines from today’s ruling:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family…In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

As this coincides with Pride weekend, there are going to be crowds at this famous corner of Castro and Market Streets with The Flag flies. I choose to contemplate it quietly with a photo from last week.

This was never a self-serving fight – all my relationships with marriage potential have been opposite-sex relationships – but it has nonetheless been a deeply personal one since it entered my consciousness almost 25 years ago. Now the perhaps even tougher work of getting job and health non-discrimination begins. This includes the needs of transgender folks (something which seems to at times splinter the LGBTQ movement into separate letters), and going up against the new and nasty wall of so-called “religious freedom” in getting employment protection. And there is a whole hemisphere of the planet where sexual minorities have no protections and face mortal danger.

There will also be time to enjoy the shadenfreude of the opposition on today’s ruling. But for today, we can be a little sentimental and simply say that #LoveWins.