Posts Tagged ‘electronic’

Weekend music events

1 Comment

This article features a few highlights from a a very musical extended weekend – something we at CatSynth would like to see become “routine.”

We start out Thursday at the Luggage Store Gallery, where OutSound hosts a regular Thursday night series. This is the series and venue that I played with Polly Moller and Company in February, and where I will be doing a solo set in May. On this particular night, there were two rather contrasting sets that featured “guitar and electronics.”

The first set was a duo by San Diego-based Nathan Hubbard and Noah Phillips. This is one of several groups I have seen generating sound from purely from electrical noise in the devices. Essentially, this involves taking the low-volume noise present in most electronic lines and processing and amplifying it to generate sounds. The result is a mixture of standard electrical noise and hums, heavy distortion, chirps and whistles, and staccato textures. The best moments were when the noise was at low volume, subtle, and you had to specifically listen for it behind the guitar.

The second set was from Berlin-based Schriftfisch and billed as “experimental ambient noise with Julian Percy & Farahnaz Hatam.”

It is amazing how different the computer-based electronic sounds from Farahnaz Hatam were from the electrical sounds in previous set. Guitar techniques included bowing and other electrical and mechanical devices, as well as standard “rock electronic guitar”. There were many times were the guitar and laptop-electronics blended such that one could not tell who was generating which sound. At other times, it was easy to tell the guitar, even with processing, from the sounds of the laptop, which had the “computer-music” sound, liquidy, percussive and granular.


A very different night of music occurred Sunday at the Switchboard Music Festival. For one, it was in a small concert hall, rather than a gallery. And it was largely focused on “contemporary classical” music and various crossover styles rather than the more experimental music offered by the Luggage Store series.

I got to the festival around 5PM or so. Unfortunately, this meant that I missed Slydini, which includes fellow “Polly Moller & Company” member Bill Wolter and other musicians that I know. Sorry about that. I did arrive to hear one of the more “contemporary classical” sets featuring a small-ensemble composition by Jonathan Russel that was reminiscent of minimalism (i.e., John Adams, Philip Glass, etc.) and folk influences, but with a backbeat (including a few disco moments). Such pieces are a reminder that “contemporary” music is different from “modern.” Contemporary music tends to be less focused on pushing the boundaries (in sometimes harsh directions) and more into embracing (multiple) traditions. I am an unapologetic modernist, but I still enjoy hearing “contemporary” music sometimes.

This was followed by one of the more intriguing pieces of the evening, Parangal by Robin Estrada. It featured a collection of wooden instruments that were simultaneously “primitive” and “modern”, buzzers, tubes, whistles and plates.

Towards the end of the piece, the musicians handed out small stones to the audience, which of course we all instinctively knew meant that we were supposed to play. The musicians gradually fell silent as the audience’s stone rhythm emerged. Of course, someone dropped his/her stones, and others had to follow, and this became part of the performance.

The next set was a chamber-ensemble piece by Aaron Novik. I probably wasn’t the only who noticed that people were clapping between movements, which is generally a big “no no” in concert performances. But Aaron encouraged the audience to continue doing so, indeed he was quite a character with jokes in between movements. The piece did move between long tones (such as the opening with tuba and bass clarinet) and more percussive sections, and was one of several works during the evening to have a rather strong Klezmer influence.

Amy X Neuberg performed next, and her set included several pieces I recognized from the previous times I have heard her perform – I have even shared a program with her a couple of times (notably the 2003 Woodstockhausen festival). There was “My God” (is Hiding in a Foxhole), and “Life Stepped In”, among others. One thing I am always impressed by is how tight her performances are, very clean and punctuated and “professional”, given the technology she employs. The highlight of her set was the “special secret surprise appearance” (or something to that effect) by the Del Sol String Quartet. It was a great combination.

Perhaps this is a good moment to point out how hard it is to photograph performing musicians, especially if you don’t have a tripod and feel obliged not to use a flash.

The Del Sol String Quartet performed a full set, with clarinetist Jeff Anderle (one of the organizers of the festival), playing Osvaldo Gilijov’s “Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind.” This piece was very strongly influenced by Klezmer and Eastern European folk music that permeated late 19th and early 20th century classical music. Indeed, it contributed to a sense I had that this was turning into the “Klezmer Festival”, which so many pieces featuring clarinet. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The next set brought “featuring clarinet” to another level, with a bass-clarinet quartet of Cornelius Boots, Jeff Anderle, Aaron Novik and Jonathan Russel:

I was very interested in the bass-clarinet quartet format, and would actually like to write a piece this or an equivalent ensemble. The instruments have a great range of tone, from traditional clarinet sound, to robust bass fifths and octaves, to harmonics and distortion reminiscent of electric guitar. The latter was very strongly on display in their cover of a tune by the Pixies. Indeed, the whole set had a very humorous feel, including a piece that moved from a more modern intro do a section that sounded like “50s rock” and got a laugh from the audience.

The final set was Gamelan X. Not exactly a traditional gamelan, but rather a mixture of gamelan instruments, electronics, drums and saxophone:

And their music had a strong jazz/funk feel, mixing gamelan percussion and the easy-to-recognize sounds of a Nord Lead (well, easy to recognize for someone who has a website about electronic music). Here we see the reyong players “getting down” with some serious choreography:

So in the end there was more variety in the festival that just “contemporary classical.”


I could have actually made it a clean sweep this weekend with music events – I did have more personal events going on Friday and Saturday. However, even those were musical, but that is a topic for another time…

This post was included in the April 2 edition of the Carnival of Cities at Perceptive Travel Blog.

RedditPinterestShare
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Seattle

1 Comment

The last performing stop on the tour last week was Saturday in Seattle:

Not exactly the Space Needle, but still some impressive communications towers, and not too far from our venue, the 1412 Gallery:


Photo by Polly Moller

I played a solo set, which I think was the best one of the tour, musically. I look forward to hearing the recordings soon. And of course, we did our Polly Moller and Company show:


(Click to enlarge)

Polly has written a bit about our performance in Seattle, including how it was somewhat sparsely attended. This was in part due to the “Much Bigger Show” that occured in direct conflict to ours, and counted much of the experimental/improvised music community as audience or participants. We did get a chance to hang out together with them at Murphy's Irish Pub afterwards, where much drink, conversation and merriment was had by all…

RedditPinterestShare
Tags: , , , ,

Portland

1 Comment

I am reporting on Portland after Astoria, even though we visted and played a day earlier. That’s just how things sometimes work.

We did have some time to spend in the Rose City before our show at Rotture:


Click to enlarge

We experienced Portland’s famously variable weather. Fortunately, many of the city’s attractions are indoors. This includes Powell’s Books. I could have spent the whole day in the Pearl Room, which contained the art and architecture offerings, as well as their extensive rare book collection.

Portland also has abundant public art. Across from Powell’s is this “brush,” a noted landmark:

And this “recursive elephant” was quite intriguing:

This sculpture includes other animals besides the elephants. I think I see a cat on the trunk:

It always comes back to cats, doesn’t it.

The show that evening was at Rotture, a club on the waterfront, conveniently located next to a construction zone. Although our audience was small, the show went well; and I did like the space, a converted early-20th century industrial brick building.


Click here to enlarge

They also had an interesting mural in the main audience area, and a nice large stage. We shared the bill with Emily Hay, who also does improvisation with flute and voice (although with a very contrasting sound and style from Polly); as well as Tim DuRoche and Resolution 51 (free jazz improvisation). So it was definitely worth sticking around after our performance to hear everyone else – although the entire evening was probably branded as “experimental night” or “improvisation night”, there was a great variety among the three groups, and I think the ordering worked well with us first, both musically and energy-wise.

More on Portland, our show at Rotture, and the trip up from the Bay Area can be found here.

RedditPinterestShare
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New Podcast: br'er: Rory Snake Handler

Comments Off


Click here to subscribe.

We're trying to open up and grow the CatSynth Channel, with releases on Tuesdays and Thursdays in addition to the Sunday release. Especially after going silent for two weeks, it seems like a good time to launch the expanded series.

Our first weekday podcast is a selection from Of Shemales and Kissaboos, the new album from br'er that was reviewed here at CatSynth in September. This release features “Rory snake handler”, which was discussed in the review and also featured on br'er's myspace.

We are happy to feature music from friends and reviewed groups here at CatSynth, and welcome submissions and requests. You can use our handy submission form, or contact us to get your music featured on the CatSynth Channel.

To subscribe, click the “Subscribe” button, or visit the CatSynth Channel page. As always, enjoy.

RedditPinterestShare
Tags: , , , , ,

New Podcast: Suspension, Polly Moller and Company

Comments Off


Click here to subscribe.

After a few weeks hiatus, the CatSynth Channel Podcast is back. This Sunday we are featuring a track from Not Made of Stone by Polly Moller and Company. Regular readers may recall this is the group I am going on tour with in a little over a week, and Suspension is one of several tracks from Not Made of Stone that we will be performing.

“A woman travels into space to forcibly remove the source of her anguish.”

We began are tour rehearsals this weekend, including some changes from our previous performances. A new guitarist, Bill Wolter; and new live electronics processing for flute and voice.

More information on the album and tour can be found Polly Moller's official website.

To subscribe, click the “Subscribe” button, or visit the CatSynth Channel page. As always, enjoy.









RedditPinterestShare
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

New Podcast: Sean Carson (del *.*), "resting tones 5"

Comments Off

Click here to subscribe. You can also visit the CatSynth Channel page for more info or to listen live.

Sean Carson is the first the first to take advantage of our open submissions for the CatSynth Channel podcast. And we are very to happy to have his piece “resting tones 5″, which very much fits our standard aesthetics, and includes “cat-like” sounds as well.

one of my most bizarre pieces.

there are some cat like sounds made by the cumbus oud. Its a steel string fretless instrument from Turkey

To submit your own music, visit our submissions page. Anything is game, as long as it vaguely fits the aesthetics of the CatSynth blog and/or podcast.

And kids, whatever you do, do NOT type that stage name into your Terminal window ;-) .

RedditPinterestShare
Tags: , , , , , ,

CD Review: br'er Of Shemales and Kissaboos

Comments Off

Readers might remember the band br'er and lead Benjamin Schurr from the infamous CatSynth Tatoo. Well, br'er is out with their first album, Of Shemales and Kissaboos.

br'er not surprisingly includes a lot of synthesizer work, combined with songwriting, “art rock”, and an interesting collection of instruments. Schurr and Christian Mirande together provide an assortment of synthesizers, noise sources, toy instruments, and such on top of a more traditional “band” of voice, guitar, keyboard, bass and drums.

The music ranges from very soft ballads to something akin to techno-industrial. Perhaps most iconic for me is the track “I'm sorry mom”, which I believe used to be featured on br'er's myspace. It opens with simple 3/4 strumming and voice, and quickly grows to include dissonant piano strings and more. A lot of pieces follow a similar idea, moving between art-rock song and experimental electronic work. The next track “Rory snake handler” also features a lot of splicing between disparate elements (e.g., song and dissonant piano), I'm guessing it is not indended to be played live. Most of the tracks, however, do sound quite doable live, which should make for some interesting shows as they tour.

The tracks following “I'm sorry mom”, continue to build up more and more electronic and noise elements, while returning for stretches to the “song” format. Ultimately, it is a collection of real songs, as sung by Schurr. But I find myself focusing on the piano and the electronics most. There is a lot of what I would consider “traditional avant-guard piano”, as well as sound-synthesis exploration, of the sorts I might use in my own performances or recordings. This is especially true in the later tracks from “Lapin” onward. It almost feels like they arranged in increasing order of electronic noise and beat/pattern content, which is as good an organizing principle as any. But to their credit, they provide a more chaotic or absurdist, and somewhat quiet, turn at the end.

Of Shemales And Kissaboos is available now from Beat is Murder Records. You can hear audio samples from from the album at Beat Is Murder's myspace as well as br'er.

Discuss on the CatSynth music forum.

RedditPinterestShare
Tags: , , , , , ,

New Podcast: KraftiM – IkoNO, from Requiems for a Submerged City

2 Comments

Click here to subscribe.

Keeping with our recognition of the 2nd anniversary of Katrina, we present another selection from the album Requiems for a Submerged City, “An electronic tribute to the City of New Orleans and its people – to those who survived Katrina and to those who didn't.” The album is released via the great Internet Archive.

Tonight, we present the track “IkoNO” by KraftiM:


KraftiM's track is a personal, loving tribute to the soul of New Orleans, pulsating with rhythms and echoes of the sweet soul music he once grew to love. Sounds of wind and water mix to this carnival-like electronic potpourri as a natural part of the environment and its atmosphere, but at the same time casting a dark shadow over the passionate and creative spirit of the city and its soul.

In addition to being a tribute, this is a great album musically that would strongly recommend for anyone who appreciates electronic music. I am also going to try and find other releases by the artists who participated.




RedditPinterestShare
Tags: , , ,

New podcast: Cell-phone feedback 070807

Comments Off

Click here to subscribe.

This was a little bit of fun some friends and I had a picnic today with cell-phone feedback. Basically, one person calls the other in close proximity, and both parties set the phones to speaker-mode. What happens then is what you will here in tonight's exciting podcast release.

Yes, this is the sort of thing that can happen when you have too many electronic-music geeks and too much alcohol, but hey, it's fun for the whole family. It's true, whole families were having fun, or at least some members of whole families…

I am also launching the new improved CatSynth Channel website at http://www.ptank.com/podcast. It should be a lot cleaner and more obvious (i.e., it now says “CatSynth Channel” in big letters), plus you can listen live on site to any podcast episodes you want, no need for a portable player or iTunes/Windows Media Player, etc. Of course, you still subscribe using the feed icon above. In any case, enjoy the crazy music.

RedditPinterestShare
Tags: , , , , , ,

New Podcast: Requiems for a Submerged City

1 Comment

The Sunday's podcast is another great find from the Internet Archives. The album Requiems for a Submerged City is “An electronic tribute to the City of New Orleans and its people – to those who survived Katrina and to those who didn't.” Tonight, we feature the first track, “This is It” by Doc:


Doc opens his track and the album with an upbeat intro carrying some of the emotionally most charged moments from New Orleans Katrina/flood media reporting. After the initial blast of 'media energy' the track transforms into soft, relaxed, dreamlike ambience hosting a strange collage of media snippets, some tangible, some almost subliminal, floating gently in the stream of music.

Regular readers will know that we at CatSynth have been closely following, and often touched by, the events in New Orleans following Katrina. This was even more true after my visit in November, 2006. So am I happy to feature this collection as part of my regular podcast series.

I am also happy to announce that you can now subscribe to the CatSynth Channel far more easily via FeedBurner. From now on, every podcast post to CatSynth will include the “feed” icon below:

Click here to subscribe.

I will also be retrofitting previous podcast posts as time permits.

So not that it's this simple, you all no longer have any excuses to not subscribe to our podcast.




RedditPinterestShare
Tags: , , ,