Performance at Harvestworks with Rachel Mason and The Use

Today we look at the second of my two performances in New York this past November. This one took place at Harvestworks, a non-profit organization in lower Manhattan that supports musicians and helps them work with technology. It was also a bit of a homecoming for me, as I had interned at Harvestworks in the summer of 1993 – yes, 20 years ago!

The concert was actually part of artist-in-residence Rachel Mason’s ongoing work, and featured a collaborative performance with Michael Durek of The Use that exploited Harvestworks’ surround-sound system. The piece included a mixture of videos, both found online and created specifically by Mason, and live music that featured electronics from Durek and voice by Mason. You can see their full performance in this video.

Rachel Mason and Michael Durek, Harvestworks, November 30, 2013 from CatSynth; on Vimeo.

It opens with a found video of an odd fellow talking about using electro-magnetism to detect ghosts. He explains basic electronics to the video (at one point getting his units wrong), with Durek slowly entering with discrete tones on the theremin. Soon the texture becomes thicker and moves into more beat-based music that I have heard in The Use’s more recent work. Rachel Mason’s vocals were quite expressive and melodic. The videos changed to show Mason in interesting costumes walking around both Brooklyn and Joshua Tree, two particular favorite environments of mine.

Then it was time for me to take the stage. I also used video, a very simple live-processing patch in Jitter that combined generated images with live input. For this piece, I had a set of cat-themed playing cards, which I would draw, show via the video processing, and then interpret for the next section of music, either as a literal specification for a patch on the Dave Smith Evolver, or more abstractly with the analog modular synth and Garrahand drum. You can see the full performance in the following video.

Amar Chaudhary at Harvestworks, November 30, 2013 from CatSynth; on Vimeo.

Overall, it was a great show, and we managed to have a full house, which is always a nice experience as a performer. I certainly hope to be able to work with these artists and with Harvestworks again in the future.

CatSynth pic: Moog Voyager

Moog Voyager

“Got to borrow this voyager :)”

Submitted by Mike Durek of The Use. You can see a report from the recent performance by The Use at the Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco.

The Use and Mountain Vs. Building, Luggage Store Gallery

The Outsound new-music programs at the Luggage Store Gallery often try to pair groups that complement one another geographically and musically. This was the case in late March with a program featuring The Use and Mountain Vs. Building.

The performance opened with Mountain Vs Building, a group featuring Sheila Bosco on drums and keyboard, Michael Lowe-Grandi on guitar, Brian Lucas on bass, and Mark Pino on drums. Given the instrumental lineup, there were two drum sets going at the same time during many parts of the set, including at the start.

Mountain Vs Building

With so much opportunity for rhythmic foundation, it wasn’t surprising that their music included strong and sometimes funky riffs overlaid with guitar and keyboard effects. The two drum sets worked well without being overwhelming. There were more freeform pieces as well that focused and timbral and noise effects via synths and effects boxes; and the final piece featuring vocals was fun. Overall, it was a strong set technically and musically. The visual effect of the lighting was a nice touch as well.

The Use

The second set featured The Use, the latest solo project by Michael Durek who was visiting from the New York area as part of a west-coast tour. I have seen many of his performances before with PAS Musique and the SK Orchestra, but his new project takes things to another level musically and technically. The electronic elements, a combination of Ableton Live and theremin, were more idiomatic, combining dark melodies, harmonies and rhythms. And it was as much a visual performance, with dance movements in time to the music. You can get a good sense of the overall performance in this video.

Outsound Presents: The Use (Michael Durek) at the Luggage Store Gallery from CatSynth; on Vimeo.

As a bonus, I had the opportunity to perform a duet with The Use to close out the evening. You can see our impromptu jam in this video:

The Use with Amar Chaudhary at Luggage Store Gallery from Michael Durek on Vimeo.

I am glad that The Use had the opportunity to perform at our Thursday-night Outsound music series. Indeed both bands performed well that evening to an appreciative audience. And I am happy to see more experimental music groups confidently incorporating popular idioms into their music.

Latest Podcast: World of Wonder with DJ CatSynth

Better late than never, my most recent podcast is now available! The show originally aired on San Francisco Community Radio (KUSF in Exile) on March 28.

This episode features a special intro track composed by Michael Durek of The Use specifically for the show, as well as an exclusive preview of his new album. The intro track fits so well I will probably use it for upcoming shows, too. Full playlist is below.

10:04AM-10:11AM (6:22) The Use “Where Ya Been So Long” from Where Ya Been So Long (Single, 2013)

10:11AM-10:15AM (4:18) The Use “Jersey Ripe” from Jersey Ripe (Single, 2013)

10:15AM-10:20AM (5:39) The Use “Aunt Joanne’s Metaphysics March” from Aunt Joanne’s Metaphysics March (Single, 2013)

10:21AM-10:34AM (13:09) Dewanatron “Night Town” from Irregular Hours, Vol. 1 (2006) on Obedience School Music

10:34AM-10:47AM (12:40) EKG “5” from Object 2 (2003)

10:47AM-10:59AM (11:36) Krzysztof Penderecki, Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra & Wanda Wilkomirska “Capriccio for violin & orchestra” from Matrix 5 – Penderecki: Anaklasis, Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (Classical, 1994) on EMI Classics

11:00AM-11:04AM (4:27) The Use “Time Burton” from Time Burton (Single, 2013)

11:04AM-11:09AM (5:10) The Use with Rachel Mason “Bird Song” from Bird Song (Single, 2013)

11:09AM-11:19AM (9:50) Rent Romus “Quest for Reality, Pt. 2” from PKD Vortex Project (Jazz, 2001) on Edgetone Records (USA)

11:20AM-11:32AM (12:59) Markus Hauke & Mainz Percussion Ensemble “Credo In Us” from John Cage – Music for Percussion Quartet (MP3, Album, Classical, 1998) on Digitalpressure/Col Legno Musikproduktion (Germany)

11:32AM-11:37AM (4:02) Xinlisupreme “I.T.D.O.O.M.” from Murder License (Rock, 2002) on FatCat Records (USA)

11:37AM-11:49AM (12:58) Vinny Golia Sextet “Btso (Big Time Secret Organization)” from Abstractions And Retrocausalities (CD, Album, Jazz, 2011) on Nine Winds (USA)

11:49AM-11:59AM (9:17) E.A.R. “Spacestation” from Phenomena 256 (Rock, 1996) on Sympathy For The Record Industry