Archive for January, 2012

Day of Noise Returns at KZSU

UPDATE 1/11: The Day of Noise is running for 24 hours starting midnight (so, all of Feb. 12). I listed a different time here for a while, taken off some promo material, but I’m pretty sure that was incorrect. I’m told that we’ve filled the schedule, so — thanks to the musicians coming by to play!

The Day of Noise is back!

This is a KZSU tradition, a 24-hour block of experimental music: improv, drone, ambient, electronics. The more abstract the better.

For years, it was put on by KZSU DJ Doom (more formally, The Voice of Doom). He would line up a cast of local musicians — David Slusser was a multiple-time participant — to come into the studio and perform live. He’d also spin CDs between acts. And during those long late-night gaps, he’d perform himself on The Machinery of Doom, a room full of percussion and noisemakers.

The designated Day of Noise is Sunday, Feb. 12, midnight to midnight. The event is supposed to focus on live performance, so if you’re a musician in the Bay Area, feel free to contact us for more information (you can find my email address on the “About” page of this blog).

As you might imagine, we’re especially short on musicians to play the nighttime and early morning slots — anything from about 10:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. — so, double pretty-please contact us if you think you can accommodate a time like that.

I’ll post more as I find out more (I’m helping with the organization but haven’t been around for all the planning). For now, you can find out more at:

January 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm Leave a comment

Playlist: January 3, 2012

I filled in for a couple of hours Tuesday night on KZSU. You’ll find the playlist here.

I’d decided to alternate sets of experimental music (we have lots of drone/ambient in rotation at any given time) and classical. Found a couple of interesting things looking through the library.

The big discovery: The San Francisco rock band Battlehooch. A group I certainly didn’t expect to be adding to my classical/experimental show.

I wanted to pick a show to give away tickets to, and the info sheet for this one indicated that Battlehooch might be something weirder than ordinary rock. OK, then — I randomly grabbed the Oof Owf EP, spun the track “Boog Woogily,” and — yowza. Fast cartoony rock with saxes beating out the bassline and wacky percussion. Signs of serious musicianship behind a clown-punk exterior. They’re one of those bands that I can’t believe I’ve missed for all these years.

I couldn’t not play this stuff after falling in love with it, so I used a few noisy tracks to lead up to a Battlehooch ticket giveaway. (Credit one assist to Liz Allbee, whose nifty little track “Drill Sergeant, Drunken Revolt” ends with the same kind of vocal hoots that “Boog Woogily” starts with — nice transition there.)

Battlehooch plays at Slim’s on Saturday, Jan. 7. I just might go. Hear these guys on Soundcloud.

In my show, Battlehooch led to an art-rock phase with the newest from Cheer-Accident (highly poppy stuff, but still progged out and a little weird, just how the band’s fans like it), and old stuff from 5UUs (a mellower track with bassoon-sounding synths, comparatively stripped-down)

I got back to classical music with a performance by solo saxophone and tape from Susan Fancher. Her album In Two Worlds, on Innova, shows off a lot of jazzy dexterity in a spare, modern-classical environment.

Having said all that, I did manage to get some classical music spun, and that led to another nice discovery.

In rotation, we’ve got In Memoriam, a collection of performances by Emanuel Vardi, considered a modern master of the viola. It was released by the Cembal d’Amour label last year after Vardi’s January 2011 death. I’d never heard of Vardi, I have to admit, but he was well respected — and he’d been living a second career as a painter, after a 1993 shoulder injury ended his music-playing career. It’s a bittersweet story. He and his wife both painted, and you can some of their pieces at vardiart.com. (That’s one of them, to the left of the next paragraph.)

Anyway. We’ve got one overenthusiastic DJ who’s been stuffing the rotation with Brahms, Bach, Chopin kinds of classical music — stuff that’s damn near impossible to fit into an eclectic show — but I was pleasantly surprised to discover the Vardi CD focuses on 20th century pieces. I played Michael Colgrass‘ “Variations for Four Drums and Viola,” recorded by Vardi and Colgrass in 1959; it’s got a stern strength despite the spare duet setting.

I followed that up with a solo viola sonata by Paul Hindemith, off the Lawrence Power collection of Everything Hindemith Ever Wrote For Viola (not the actual title) on Hyperion.

From a poster for the Jan. 7 Battlehooch show at Slim’s. Click to go to The Bay Bridged, from whence I copied this.

January 6, 2012 at 12:49 am Leave a comment

Skatchbox Redux

T.D. SkatchitSkatch Migration (Edgetone, 2010)

As on T.D. Skatchit & Co., an earlier album, Skatch Migration combines two skatchbox with a variety of guests, trying out different sound combinations.

It’s still sometimes incongruous, as on the first album. But skatchboxes — homemade instruments played by scraping combs, sticks, or files against various textured surfaces — make for fun headphone listening, and some of the instrumental pairings are quite innovative. If you enjoy the curled, quirky sounds of abstract electronics/noise, you’ll find a lot to like. Sounds range from determined and fast-paced scratching to slower, calmer sounds — one resembling a marble being rolled around a wooden box, for instance.

But this territory got covered pretty well with the first album. The skatchbox has such a distinctive sound, and the lack of any sustain give its varied noises an overall dryness that doesn’t ever let up. While it’s got the infinite possibilities of any instrument, I have to admit I found myself wondering whether another whole album of skatching was really called for.

I did like the album. In its defense, it reflects a good number of strategies for mixing other instruments with the skatchbox.

Some of the acoustic “musical” instruments, for example, take the foreground, at least for my ears. The skatchbox chatter became a crisp alien backdrop, supporting the lead improviser. That’s especially the case with Scott Looney’s sad piano piece, or Bruce Ackley’s not-so-traditional saxophone melody.

Other players worked at fitting in. On “Flammable Skatch,” Kyle Bruckmann, who’s good at making the oboe sound non-oboe-like, plays airy screeches that almost could have come from skatchboxes. One of Doug Carroll’s cello tracks goes for a slashing, reverb-laden sound that reflects the kinetic skatchbox mentality.

As on the first album, we get to hear that abstract electronics can be a natural skatchbox partner, through contributions by Gino Robair and especially Tim Perkis. And while the first album had Karen Stackpole’s gongs, this one has Jacob Felix Heule scraping a cymbal for a similarly deep, doomy ringing — a really interesting setting for the skatchboxes.

Vocalists appear on five of the 15 tracks. Bob Marsh’s deep voice makes a nice cartoony babble on “What Did It?”, a fun track. But Aurora Josephson — the only guest duplicated between the two albums — steals the show, first with “Tip of My Tongue,” which is full of wordplay written by Michalak, and with “Indecision Revision,” a collection of “Mm-hm” and “Huh-uh” sounds.

Tom Nunn and Dave Michalak do seem to have added to the skatchbox vocabulary. I’m out of town as I write this, without T.D. Skatchit & Co. handy for direct comparison, but Nunn and Michalak seem to be working with amplified skatchboxes more frequently on this album and they may have added some new elements that produce nearly vocal sounds, similar to the puppy-dog sounds I’d heard from a bowed instrument called the daxophone. (Each skatchbox is uniquely hand-made, so each instrument can be vastly different.)

Previous skatchbox posts:

January 2, 2012 at 12:09 am Leave a comment

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