Rubber ()) Cement, bran(…)pos, Hora Flora at Luggage Store Gallery

Today we look back at a recent show featuring noise and theater at the Luggage Store Gallery, part of Outsound Presents’ regular Thursday-night experimental-music series.

The first set featured Hora Flora, a project of Raub Roy. Most often, we associate noise music with electronic affects, but this set focused on acoustic noise opportunities. It opened to the sound of electric toothbrushes on drums. It turns out this sound can be quite rich, and also quite loud at times. Over the course of the performance, he used other acoustic generators for excite the drums, most notably large colorful balloons.

The set continued in this way, with the balloons and toothbrushes on the drums creating ever changing acoustic noise drones, with other elements such as didgeridoo and portable cassette players layered on top. The cassette players were very deliberately placed at even intervals on the beam that spanned the length of the gallery in front of the audience. I was right near one of them, but the sounds were still quite subtle when combined with the overall drone texture.

Horoflora was followed by bran(…)pos. I had last seen him perform at the 2011 Outsound Music Summit. Once again, he was performing from within a curtained space with video projections on the outside, but the setting was far more intimate setting. From my vantage point, I was able to see both his live performance “behind the curtain” as well as the enveloping video projection.

In his performance physical use of his face both generated and shaped the sound, which in turn controlled the video. The performance opened with expressive percussive sounds, which become more resonant through electronic processing and gradually formed a rhythmic pattern. It continued with a series of slurps, crunches and other forms of face percussion mixed with breath, voiced sounds and synthetic sounds. In addition to electronics for direct vocal processing, there were synthesizers as well, including an Access Virus:

Overall, the performance had the phrasings and overall structure of storytelling, but in a language whose words I cannot understand. It did come to a strong finish with growls and roars against a frantic thudding pulse.

The final performance featured Rubber (() Cement (pronounced “Rubber oh Cement”). The set was quite the spectacle, with a large costumed figure, a space creature of sorts, next to a towering old-school computer system made from cardboard. The visuals and sounds reminded me a bit of Caroliner Rainbow, but on a smaller scale, and on top of the audience instead of separated by a formal stage.

[Photo by Michael Zelner.]

Somewhere inside that lumbering lurching figure was a large custom string instrument. The plucking and striking of the strings formed the sonic base of the performance, which were both processed electronically and countered by other synthesizer sounds emanating from the “computer”. I suspected that the things would get quite loud, and indeed they did, with lots of loud shrieky pedal noises processing the strings and reprocessing themselves in complex ways. Of course the focal point remained the physical and visual aspects of the performance. In fact, that is a bit of an understatement, as part of the audience experience including being “attacked”. I got swiped at least once by one of the extending parts appendages, which are actually quite heavy – I was nearly knocked over. Things got a little crazier as the creature moved out into the audience. But it was all in good fun, and I don’t think anyone was hurt. Definitely an unusual experience for this series.

Overall, it was a great show attend, with different sites and sounds than usual. The audience was different as well, with the artists bringing their own followings. I hope to see more of them at other venues in the near future.

Teenage Engineering OP-1 and Oplab

Teenage Engineering is always fun. That goes for both playing the instruments and visiting their both at NAMM. We remember the OP-1 from the previous show:

Teenage Engineering introduced Oplab this time around. It’s a DIY system with a small versatile connectivity hub and variety of available sensors, including this shoe:

The heart of the system is the Oplab device itself, with CV inputs and outputs (in a format that connects easily to Eurorack format modules, the OP-1 and other devices), MIDI and USB. The USB can used to connect to an iPad to control synth apps or receive control data. Similarly, the analog CV and custom digital connections serve both directions. In addition to the shoe, they have several available sensors, including pressure, tap and rotation, though they strongly encourage users to bring their own.

The little eviscerated hard-drive on the right is an example of the DIY spirit of the system. It turns out one can spin the disk inside a hard drive and generate useful pulses for temporal control. I had never thought of using a hard drive as a controller before.

The Oplab and its related devices should be available later this spring. I’m definitely intrigued.

CatSynth pic: Appliancide (mostly) DIY modular

From Appliancide, where you can read more about the project.

I ordered some knobs and switch covers for the Doepfer modules, so they will blend in with my DIY stuff better. I am working on a second case and the modules to fill it. I will try to do a start-to-finish pictorial on one the modules this coming year. We’ll see. I like to build slow and rock out to music. Taking pictures cramps my style.

Also on matrixsynth:

“Clockwise starting from the upper left:

Doepfer a-111 VCO, Dual CGS/Serge DUSG, Doepfer a-188-1 256 stage BBD, Doepfer a-188-1 4096 stage BBD, DIY manual gate/lag generator, Doepfer a-135 mixer, Doepfer a-101-2 LPG, DIY version of Fonitronik Attenuverting Mixer and Buchla 292C LPG clone using boards from Thomas White.”

CatSynth pic: ZiLaiHong – DDRM “LiangZhiMao” / ZLH-02

From Meng Qi, via matrixsynth:

Passive dual diode ring modulator with internal connections that can be break by inserting audio plugs.
When only input 1 and 2 are used, output 1 is the ring modulation output, output 2 is the singal of output 1 being modulated again by input 2 (de-modulation output).
When input 1, 2, 4 are used, output 1 is the ring modulation output, output 2 is the singal of output 1 being modulated by input 4.
When all 4 inputs are used, it can be 2 totally indepented ring modulators.
Very versatile!”

Apparently, the cats love it.