Today we look back at Reconnaissance Fly’s recent performance at DUENDE on Oakland. DUENDE is a venue and tapas restaurant/bar that has been quite supportive of the new music community (I have been remiss in writing reviews for some of the other shows I have seen there), and also has delicious food and wine.
The patatas bravas are simple but delicious. The Tempranillo was quite nice as well.
The performance itself was fun. We had a good audience, mostly filled with familiar faces but that is always welcome. And we premiered a couple of new pieces, Spirograph by Polly Moller and Undeciphered by Tim Walters, which featured text in the undeciphered Linear A script (go look it up). Here are some views from the show.
[Photos by MSW.]
Yes, I deliberately matched the color of the Nord.
Rounding out the band as always were Rich Lesnik on reeds and Larry the O on drums.
We are now busy working in more detail on those pieces and at least one more new one for our next show at the Makeout Room in San Francisco in early May.
Today we look back at duo performances from the middle of September: an electro-acoustic spoetry performance with Polly Moller, and a punk-themed Pitta of the Mind performance at Bay Area Ladyfest. Musically, conceptually, and socially, these were contrasting experiences, but both very rewarding. Both duos combined voice with live electronics, and both involved my feminine persona . They also provided opportunities for different styles of playing and collaboration.
Ode to Steengo is a piece based on spoetry (spam poetry) derived from Harry Harrison’s “Stainless Steel Rat” series. Polly Moller and I performed it several times as an electro-acoustic duo in 2008 and 2009, and then later in our band Reconnaissance Fly. We reprised the piece for our duo performance at The Nunnery in San Francisco on September 15. It was a more expansive interpretation, with more instrumental breaks and live processing of voices. It was also different in that I used the analog modular for the electronic parts. The Make Noise Echophon was great for processing Polly’s vocals and wind instruments. And overall, I thought this was our best performance of this piece to date. The technology, timing and overall musicianship were strong, and we both had a good time while playing. You can enjoy it in its entirety via the video below:
The performance by Pitta of the Mind at Bay Area Ladyfest in Oakland was something altogether different. Maw Shein Win and I interpreted several classic punk-rock songs as “art-damaged” music and spoken word performances. Musically, this involved a mixture of idiomatic and freeform improvisation on electric piano, mixed with some odd synth sounds. As with Steengo, the performance itself was a lot of fun, and in this case we made that a deliberate and overt part of the show. This was especially apparent in our final piece, an interpretation of The Ramones’ “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” where we invited the audience to sing along with us.
Both performances were well received by the audiences, which filled their respective venues, and of course I hope to do both again. Pitta of the Mind already has two more performances scheduled this year, and of course Polly and I perform together quite often. It is a good reminder to make time for duos as a specific performance format even while spending much time on solo work and on full-size bands.
I tend to oscillate between the very large and the very small when it comes to instruments. On the small scale, I stumbled upon these tiny controllers from Nektar Technology.
These tiny controllers seemed like perfect companions for the iPhone and iPad – and they are quite cute. (Use the stuffed cat for a sense of scale.) The keyboard and continuous controllers both have a small modular footprint, slightly wider than an iPad. I might have gotten either or both, if they were available. Nektar hopes to have these out later this year.
While it is great to be able to show up at a gig with just an iPad, a controller like those from Nektar, and a couple of cables, sometimes one needs a real keyboard. And those aren’t getting any smaller. The Nord Stage 2 is the latest incarnation of my heavy but reliable workhorse keyboard:
The electric pianos (and the primary reason I got the Stage) were the same as ever and felt great. But what is different from the previous version is the synth section, which is now more akin to the Nord Wave. I could definitely use that feature. There are also improvements to the acoustic piano modeling, but that is more incremental. I don’t think I would replace my Stage EX at great expense for these features, though. There are some new acoustic pianos available for the older model, which I will try out at home.
A first for us at CatSynth! (And possibly a last as well.)
This is Hammond. He was helping us out in the studio last weekend as we began work on our Reconnaissance Fly album.
The album, which includes our entire Flower Futures “spong cycle”, is quite an undertaking. Recording a five-piece band performing live requires a complex setup in terms of microphones, cables and general logistics. My Nord Stage (in the photo above) is actually one of the simpler elements. But we got everything working over the weekend, fired up Pro Tools and were able to complete tracking on our first song. Wisely, we started with the simplest one first.