Posts tagged ‘video’

Josh Allen’s Deconstruction Orchestra

The Outsound group has posted several videos from this year’s New Music Summit, the annual creative-music festival held every summer in San Francisco. (You’ll find the full playlist of videos here.)

Video is a powerful tool for documenting live music, especially creative music. The music is underrepresented in the media as it is. Video evidence of past performances could be a useful promotional tool, especially when traveling out of town. And for this kind of music, it’s not as if the fans will stay home hoping there’ll be video to replay later — that’s hardly a guarantee.

Here’s Josh Allen conducting an improvising orchestra. It’s a grand, hour-long piece full of big sounds and blazing solos. Rent Romus and Vinny Golia, on saxes, really sink their teeth into it early on. Afterwards, there’s a fiery encore where we get to hear Allen’s tenor sax assault. Great stuff.

December 24, 2014 at 12:32 pm Leave a comment

9 9 9

Roscoe Mitchell wrote a piece for solo viola, apparently.

It’s called “9/9/09,” and it was performed as part of an April Yoshi’s concert that featured a variety of Mitchell’s works.

The piece is quite abstract and full of what I suppose are microtones — they sound like purposefully sour notes.

I have to admit, I’m not sure I’m on the same page with the composition, so to speak. The first half sort of drifts past my ears. I’m able to get into the rhythms that appear after the midpoint — the faster tempo in the middle helps me get more into tracing the swing of the rhythm rather than trying to decode the harmonies.

That’s my amateur’s opinion, anyway. I’m sure there’s a lot I’m missing.

The violist, Nils Bultmann, is also part of an amusing-sounding viola night coming up Oct. 29 at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley.

September 17, 2012 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

miRthkon on DVD

Wherein they promise to play their complex avant-prog-with-woodwinds even faster.

See http://www.mirthkon.com/dvd/.

Previous mentions on this blog: Review of the album Vehicle …. miRthkon on radio.

January 9, 2011 at 1:48 pm Leave a comment

Outsound Summit: InterMedia Night

Bonfire Madigan (center)That’s Bonfire Madigan Shive behind the flames, at left, possibly living up to her name by handing out sparklers after her performance, which capped the Friday night (July 24) bill at the Outsound New Music Summit. It was an impromptu post-4th celebration, with the musicians whooping it up among the silhouetted light barrels that were the evening’s art installation (more about that later).

This was the InterMedia night in the Summit schedule, and the only night I could attend. I really wish I could have seen more, including the “Touch the Gear” mini-expo, but at least I got treated to some unique performances.

The place was packed, by the way, thanks to Madigan’s appearance, billed as a one-time, 36-minute piece. And you could tell who was there just for her set: the goth piercings, the dyed hair, the anarchist ripped-jeans look.

source: outsound.orgJess Rowland and The Dreamland Puppet Theater: An opera performed by marionettes, with prerecorded music and singing, and live piano accompaniment by Rowland. Surreal, especially with the prerecorded electronics sounds adding an eerie sheen even over the pleasant melodies. The source: outsound.orgsung lines followed dissonant paths and were recorded by untrained vocalists, possibly the puppeteers. Arch and serious music.

The story, though, was packed with random fun. Falou, the worst poet in the world, joins Amelia Earhart in her kingdom of the air. But Earhart turns out to have a dark side, and prodded by J. Edgar Hoover, she turns on Falou and banishes him. I probably shouldn’t give away the ending … let’s just say Falou has an epiphany and a transformation — some real dramatic pull there — but it also involves Britney Spears and Saskatchewan.

Rowland wrote the opera with the puppet theater in mind, and the DIY sets added some charm to go with the overall sense of humor. Still, there’s some quite serious stuff in there about the nature of art and freedom. The audience didn’t know quite what to make of it at first; you don’t want to laugh at what seems silly but might be quite serious, right? But when a glittery Michael Jackson comes down from the sky after someone mentions “god” … yeah, that pretty much sets the tone. Rowland apparently explores similar moods in The Trouble with the Soda Machine, which is based on e-mails from her work. I gotta hear that.

Light barrels, built by Guerrero/QuillianKathleen Quillian & Gilbert Guerrero: They’re visual artists, and they provided the installations outside the Community Music Center for the performance: translucent barrels of light with scenes silhouetted to the outside world, and subtle electronics sounds (the roaring, staticky kind) emanating from within.

Their performance, “Hypnodetonation,” involved taking snippets of films and selecting one instant to play on repeat. So on the screen, you saw that instant — a handful of frames — repeated over and over, accompanied by a barely discernable fragment of dialogue or music. Then they’d shift to the next fragment, adding its sound to the previous one. Then another. What built up, over time, was a writhing wall of sounds. Guerrero was picking the clips, and Quillian seemed to be doing the edit of the overall sound, fading out the older clips so the newer ones could take over. That produced a sense of slow migration in the piece. I liked it, but it went on awfully long.

Bonfire Madigan takes the stageBonfire Madigan Shive: Then came Bonfire Madigan, with the 36-minute “Portrait of the Artist as a Transliminal Criminal.” We were told it was divided into 12-minute thirds representing past, future, and present, but the divisions weren’t easy to discern. Oh, heck, I had no idea where the divisions were. But there was a very nice, bold instrumental theme that dominated the beginning and came back at the end, so maybe that was a clue.

After playing around with that main theme for some time, Madigan added a few songs of conventional length. Good stuff — she’s got a gruff delivery that goes well with tough cello slashings, and she contrasts that with passages of airy, gossamer melody. She has the theatricality of Tori Amos but doesn’t aim for that kind of delicacy; Madigan is more capable of punching to the gut.

Going with the “Intermedia” theme, Madigan had video running through the performance. Mostly this was a blurry image of the stage itself, for that mirror-within-a-mirror effect, but the final segment of the piece had Madigan playing the aforementioned cello theme as accompaniment to the silent short film “Transliminal Criminal,” some stills of which can be found on her Web site.

Source: bonfiremadigan.com/mediaThe film itself featured images of Madigan running through fields, jumping gleefully around the world’s biggest Prozac pill, and paddling a land-stranded rowboat. More about atmosphere than storyline, obviously.

Madigan weathered some technical difficulties, particularly towards the end, but overall put on a dramatic and visually arresting show, what with the spare stage, lighting washes (yellow as seen in the photo, blue later on), and the overall ambitious nature of the piece. The Madiganites sitting next to me were blown away, gabbing excitedly after it ended. And then Madigan herself blew off some steam handing out sparklers.

Yes, I’m more than a week late in posting this, but it was a good, adventurous show worth writing about.  Hopefully it lays the groundwork for further ambitious directions out of the New Music Summit.

August 2, 2009 at 1:52 pm Leave a comment


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