Posts tagged ‘noise’

KZSU Day of Noise 2014

I was able to help only for the very beginning and tail end of KZSU’s Day of Noise this year, but it was still a lot of fun.

As usual, a small group of hero DJs made the Day of Noise possible, including Abra (who emceed all 24 hours) and Smurph, who I believe was on hand for most of the sound engineering.

I even manned a sound board this time. The group was Big City Orchestra, a quartet that used styrofoam as its main sound source. They bowed it, poked sticks into it (tuning them beforehand, because they started their set with a droney piece) and ran the sound through all kinds of effects. By the end, it was a wall of noise. It was pretty cool.

Pictures follow. I caught a few minutes of Karl Evangelista and Tom Djll’s band, Revenant, but didn’t get a chance to say hi; their set ended as I was helping set up the audio for BCO.

Here’s the photographic evidence.

Smurph, our head sound engineer, setting up what's normally a meeting room. We use two studios for Day of Noise, so that one band can set up while another is playing.

Smurph, our head sound engineer, setting up what’s normally a meeting room. We use two studios for Day of Noise, so that one band can set up while another is playing.

Brian B. James opened the 24-hour Day of Noise. The potted trees, collected from around the station, were set up in the studio for the sake of the webcast, which we ran on UStream throughout the day/night.

Brian B. James opened the 24-hour Day of Noise. The potted trees, collected from around the station, were set up in the studio for the sake of the webcast, which we ran on UStream throughout the day/night.

The Day of Noise tradition: the autographed T-shirt.

The Day of Noise tradition: the autographed T-shirt.

Revenant (three-fourths of it, anyway): Karl Evangelista, Michael Coleman, Tom Djll

Revenant (three-fourths of it, anyway): Karl Evangelista, Michael Coleman, Tom Djll

Revenant percussionist Nava Dunkelman, captured through the hazy Studio A window.

Revenant percussionist Nava Dunkelman, captured through the hazy Studio A window.

Big City Orchestra setting up. Cheryl Leonard is on the left, and Nina Lynn Hollenberg is third from left ... didn't write down the men's names, unfortunately.

Big City Orchestra setting up. Cheryl Leonard is on the left, and Nina Lynn Hollenberg is third from left … didn’t write down the men’s names, unfortunately.

Cheryl E. Leonard.

Cheryl E. Leonard.

Sticks stuck into the boxes were tuned to specific notes (yes, tuned -- it wasn't easy) and bowed to produce groany tones.

Sticks stuck into the boxes were tuned to specific notes (yes, tuned — it wasn’t easy) and bowed to produce groany tones.

BCO played three pre-planned movements that culminated in stabbing and sawing the styrofoam. It was a heavily noisy finale.

BCO played three pre-planned movements that culminated in stabbing and sawing the styrofoam. It was an appropriately noisy finale.

Syrofoam bits clung to the performers' hands and got everywhere. Probably should have seen that coming.

Syrofoam bits clung to the performers’ hands and got everywhere. Probably should have seen that coming.

Less than 30 minutes after BCO's set, thanks to the wonders of modern technology and a lot of elbow grease.

The stuido less than 30 minutes after BCO’s set, thanks to the wonders of modern technology and a lot of elbow grease.

3 Leafs closed out the Day of Noise 2014.

3 Leafs closed out the Day of Noise 2014.

March 8, 2014 at 12:04 pm Leave a comment

KZSU Day of Noise: Saturday, February 8, 2014

Day of Noise: at kzsu.stanford.edu or 90.1FM, Feb. 8, 2014

Thanks to the efforts of Abra (@abraRadio), KZSU will again present the Day of Noise: 24 hours of drone, electronics, ambient, improvisation, and … well, NOISE!

It’ll be on Saturday, February 8, just about all day. That’s 12:01 a.m. or thereabouts, until just about midnight the next night. Find out more and see the full schedule on Facebook.

You can listen worldwide at KZSU’s Web Feed, or in the Bay Area, you can tune us in on good old radio at 90.1 FM. Listening in the car with the windows rolled down, to spread the noisy goodness, is a particular pleasure (and totally comfortable in what passes for February ’round these parts).

Previous Day of Noise posts on this blog:

January 4, 2014 at 10:39 am Leave a comment

Day of Noise 2013

dayofnoise2013KZSU is doing its 24-plus-hour Day of Noise again, starting just a couple of hours before Sunday, April 14.

You can see the whole schedule, and descriptions of the artists, at that link above.

It’s an impressive undertaking managed by some very motivated students who are into drone, electronics, laptop improv, and … well, noise! I love that they’ve filled the entire day with music, including some afternoon hours that will apparently be broadcast at Stanford’s White Plaza.

Do tune in, starting midnight tonight — 90.1FM if you’re within range in the Bay Area, or kzsulive.stanford.edu/ if you’re not. As my kids said last year: “It’s just noise!

April 13, 2013 at 8:04 pm Leave a comment

Four-Way Musical Crash

Ron Anderson, Robert L. Pepper, David Tamura, Philippe PetitClosed Encounters of the 4 Minds (Public Eyesore, 2012)

Here’s a frenetic mix of noise and rock and improv, a constant tumbling of sounds, with lots of grating (in a good way) electronics providing a basslike backdrop.

It’s musical dodgeball, a bombardment that starts early in the first track: incoming sci-fi volleys and the fast tremor of Ron Anderson’s guitar. David Tamura’s sax blazes and squeaks with high lung power.

It’s the sax and the guitars spike the energy levels (you might be familiar with Anderson’s frenetic tendencies from The Molecules or PAK) and provide a semblance of rhythm. But don’t picture metal or ferocious speed-punk. In fact, there’s a cross between wildness and musicality in here. Crazy sax or guitar scribblings in one moment, a near-pleasant melodicism (backed by the same crazed, pulsing attitude) in the next.

Even a relatively calmer track like number 5 (they’re all untitled), with its zoned-out buzzing like a synthetic sitar, has the disquiet of David Tamura’s cranky sax and some ominous guitar electronics.

The album is often like a conversation where everybody wants to be heard at once, and in many contexts, that wouldn’t be a good thing. But you have to consider the intent. This music aims to be dynamic and aggressive — they fill the page with scribbles — and I love the bustling chaos it creates. It works.

That said, some points are a bit much. I’m torn as to whether I enjoy Track 4. It’s got an alarm-blare sound that just goes and goes and goes. Some days, I can take it as part of the scenery. Other days, I’m ready to reach through the speakers and rip out somebody’s laptop battery to end the pain. The loops of saxophones and of a keyboard-like sound (as on The Who’s “Eminence Front” — it might be the electric psalterion (harp) played by Petit) can feel either nicely juxtaposed or relentlessly annoying, depending on my mood.

But on most tracks, I enjoy the musical assault, and I like the structures they’ve built with the music. The 10-minute finale (track 8) progresses through phases that could each be described as a descent into madness. One segment has the feeling of shooting down a tunnel, with a pulsing fuzz in the bass spectrum representing the walls speeding past, until it disintegrates into a crunchy, staticky sound bed for the other instruments. It finally gives way to a rhythmic guitar chop that sets up the noisy ending.

Samples:

The first moments of the album:

Track 5. Zoned-out buzzing that’s still not peaceable:

Track 4, with that alarm blare. You decide:

The “tunnel” from track 8:

January 21, 2013 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

Jack of All Noise (NYC Part 4/4)

Pre-show setup. I wasn’t the only one who touched the walls to see if it was real aluminum foil. (Answer: Yep.)

JACK is a new arts space in Brooklyn, an emptied-out storefront innocently tucked away in the hipster enclave of Willambsurg. Here, I got to experience an evening of aggressive noise.

The intention was a CD release show for an improvising trio called Iron Dog, but the theme was aggressive noise, with three like-minded groups playing one long improvisation each.

Mostly geared toward theater, JACK is an eclectic spot. It hosts Tuesday-night readings of French plays translated into English, for instance. And it hosts experimental music, including occasional concerts titled Aural Dystopia — big, noisy improvisation. My friend Dan clued me in about the November installment, and I made plans to go get a taste.

This was the same day as my Central Park tour, so after relocating my things to Brooklyn, where I would spend the night, I took a quick nap before heading into the subway. It wasn’t going to be a complicated trip, but it was still comforting to catch a glimpse of Jim Black — part of the night’s opening act — farther down the subway platform.  At least I’d picked the right train.

I arrived early with the intention of finding an espresso, which turned out to be a little tricky. Old Brooklyn still dominates the neighborhood; Starbucks hasn’t yet overrun the two or three blocks that I explored. I did find a hipster grocery boutique called Brooklyn Victory Garden that gladly sold me a coffee and a dinosaur cookie. You can’t turn down a dinosaur cookie.

The show started with heavy saxophone blasts from Briggan Krauss, a choppy, ragged attack like a helicopter or a half-speed machine gun. That set the tone for the trio Han Blasts Panel, consisting of Krauss (sax, guitar), Curtis Hasselbring (trombone), and Jim Black (drums), with all three adding electronics of various shapes.

We got to hear plenty of Black’s offbeat grooves, which start out tight and then unravel, as if slowing down (as I’d recently heard in his Nels Cline duo). Hasselbring sent the trombone through a variety of effects, and when he shut them off, the pure trombone sound suddenly felt bright and fresh.

Black added electronics played off of a pad, including low, floor-rattling bass tones that worked especially well when Krauss was playing electric guitar. Towards the end, Krauss was riding a one-note groove, settling himself as the rhythm section while Hasselbring soloed and Black contributed those bass notes and some electronics crackles. When Krauss broke out of the groove, Black switched immediately back to drums, and the piece exploded into a new life. Great sequence.

Next up was The Home of Easy Credit, the duo of Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen (sax, vocals) and Tom Blancarte (standup electric bass), who performed a set of sustained fury. They opened with Jensen playing smooth, mellifluous runs on sax, but Blancarte put a stop to that with a hard bass attack, using sticks and fingers to pull out loud, sticky notes, as if he were extracting teeth from the instrument.

(Jensen and Blancarte’s Web domains seem to have been replaced by spam sites, so use caution searching for them. Probably better to look them up on Facebook.)

Jensen’s demonic growls were spooky enough, but it’s a moment of overdubbed syllables, a falsetto harpies’ chorus that she built up from loops and echoes, that’s going to turn up in my nightmares.

Their set included some gorgeous cooldown segments (definitely in the minority) and some moments of mood-shifting that showed an attentive listening that’s the key to good improvisation.

Then it was Iron Dog‘s turn, performing their piece in the dark accompanied by abstract video. Sarah Bernstein played violin and recited poetry for certain passages. Stuart Popejoy played electric bass, usually so heavily distorted and pedaled-up as to become a roar of electronics. Andrew Drury at the drum kit was a treat to watch; I loved his jazz-influenced drumming, but he spent a larger amount of time in a soundmaking space, bowing his cymbals and creating other scraped noises.

Bernstein’s poems are written down, but she selects them on the fly, inserting them into the flow as one would a violent cadenza or a steady backing sound. She did this deftly, and the improvisation overall had a strong, episodic feeling, to the point that I thought it might have had a pre-arranged structure. But it was all improvised, with the group collectively steering the shifts in mood and intensity.

It wasn’t always that way, Popejoy told us after the show. It just goes to show what can happen when a band plays together for a long time, developing an instinct for one another’s moves.

The poems became a focal point, but Bernstein’s violin playing was terrific, too. (Turns out she plays in settings like Braxton ensembles.) At one point near the end, she sawed ferociously, fingers ratting up and down the neck, with the other two gradually building up until white-noise intensity. Another moment that stands out in memory is when Popejoy played with a fingerpicked guitar-like serenity, but with the bass producing a sound like shrieking steam.

As for the poems themselves, there was one about conversation being an accident, something you always wish could be undone. Another was a word collage — “didactic,” “auto,” several others — echoed back. Bernstein would repeat the words at a different tempo so that the echoed loop brought up thewords at unpredictable, incongruous moments. Simple idea, but I liked the sound of it.

The new Iron Dog album is called Interactive Album Rock, and it’s good. So, they’re on my map now, as is JACK.

November 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm Leave a comment

Sounds from The Bran

Hopefully, when you click the video below, it will have more than “1” views.

It’s bran(…)pos, testing out a (relatively) newly acquired synthesizer.

I happened to be on Twitter right after he linked to the video, so I checked it out. I knew bran back when he was “The Bran (Another Plight of Medics) POS,” creating noise pieces from distorted samples of his screaming voice. Cool stuff.

Anyway, I happened to be the first person to view the video. Not that that matters now, but hey, I got to feel special for a few minutes. And I liked the video — with the self-run camera work, it’s like a little mini-tour of the synthesizer. Hopefully, it’ll keep you noisily entertained for a few minutes.

As for bran(…)pos’ voice work, you can check out soundcrack.net, and you can see him perform in the August 31 installment of Pamela Z’s ROOM series. That show will focus on vocal artists.

July 22, 2012 at 12:01 am Leave a comment

Help Moe Put Another Beautiful Noise on Disc

Moe Staiano is up on Kickstarter again, this time hoping to commit a very special performance to vinyl.

For years, he’s been building large improv/orchestral pieces for Moekestra, a varying but always large and loud ensemble. The group began more than a decade ago with the epic “Death of a Piano,” and the concept reached a pinnacle in 2010 with “End of an Error,” a piece performed in Wels, Austria, at the Music Unlimited Festival.

For a while, it looked like that might be the final Moekestra appearance, and it certainly would have been a fitting finale. (Moekestra did reconvene this year.)

Finale or not, the fact that the band got an invitation all the way from Austria made this performance a special occasion.

The Kickstarter funding would go towards a vinyl release of those recordings. So, check out the proposal, and help produce a cool musical souvenir if you’re so inclined.

(For details on Staiano’s most recent Kickstarter-funded vinyl, check out Surplus 1980.)

April 15, 2012 at 11:46 am Leave a comment

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