ISSUE Project Room : an open and versatile environment in which established and emerging artists conduct, exhibit and perform new and site-specific work
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mwalker on 03/08/2010 at 10:00AM
As one of the grand finales for this year’s fantastic Unsound Festival (making it’s first appearance in NYC), the excellent Canadian experimental-drone-ambient-shoegazer-doom-metal duo Nadja -- Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff – conjured an absolutely massive soundworld of near-impenetrable density at ISSUE. Nadja design jagged, skyscraping architectures out of scalding and charred streams of noise and distortion, abstracting gestures of drone and doom into complex, infinitely detailed structures of intense beauty. Amidst sprawling ambient landscapes that are at turns placid, quivering, frightening, and impassable, Baker and Buckareff erect looming, spiraling towers that jut, writhe, and twist into the boundless vertical dimension before culminating into screaming spires of searing energy. Be braced to emerge/escape in a collapsed crawl – drained, soaked, cleansed, and exorcised.
andrewcsmith on 03/05/2010 at 03:59PM
David Daniell works in transparencies and onion-skin shapes, and recurring, overlapping tones. Daniell slices the layers of drone to create something optimistic and mobile. As he layers the sounds, each new sound changes somewhat the meaning of the ones that already exist, and these sounds cycle in and out so that the shapes are constantly shifting. Daniell interrupts these environments with loose, melancholy pickings, that evoke some kind of campfire in the forest, where the pulsing high pitches are a cicada choir.
Daniell’s work gives the impression of travelling through a universe of sound sources, so that they fade in and out with no perceivable order. It is not quite narrative, but a slow transition, building to a one-man guitar army with some clear connection to Daniell’s work as concertmaster for Rhys Chatham’s large-scale guitar performances.
Yet, the one-man performance, while similar sonically, is far removed from Chatham’s compositions. Daniell, in a feat that would be impossible with a guitar army, oscillates between the cosmic and the personal, effortlessly fusing orchestral power and scope with the intimacy of a solo performance.
This recording, from Daniell’s February 12 performance at ISSUE, was a part of the Unsound Festival, presented by the Polish Cultural Institute, among many others. Daniell’s recent Table of the Elements release, I IV V I, was a part of their Guitar Series, which is ongoing. All of his albums are available from his site, as well as from various other independent stores.
TAGGED AS:david daniell
andrewcsmith on 03/01/2010 at 10:45AM
When Pete Nolan sings as Spectre Folk, his voice goes through a clipped, disarming delay that turns all held notes into phased-out noises, and makes all consonants trail off and blend into the next word. His songs seem to have verses and choruses, or at least that's the assumption, until they spin off into other phrases that don't quite fit into the same boxes. Instead of moving along through verse, chorus, verse, these songs just seem to stay put, throwing verse after verse off a bridge to nowhere.
Last week, I put up Steve Gunn's set (from the same night) and claimed it was Pete Nolan's Spectre Folk. Now that our files are all in order and correctly labeled, both of their sets are available on the FMA for download. Steve Gunn's latest work, Boerum Palace, is available as of last November from Three Lobed Recordings. In addition, the revised version of last week's post is up (all the good things about the music intact).
All of Spectre Folk's tracks here on the FMA are from the recent LP Compass, blanket, lantern, mojo. The LP is put out by Arbitrary Signs (003), and is available for $12 at firstname.lastname@example.org or for complete download at www.othermusic.com. The attached music is from Spectre Folk's January 29, 2010, performance at ISSUE Project Room, and if it doesn't convince you to get the LP, then who knows what will.
andrewcsmith on 02/22/2010 at 12:00AM
Steve Gunn's playing shimmers like a raga-inspired blues, or maybe a blues-inspired raga. It seems like it's all plucked guitars, roots and open strings, and cymbals.
In this music, every beat is the same. There are moments, here and there, where it starts to feel like it settles into something like a simple rhythm, the threes and fours we're used to hearing. It doesn't take long, though, because Gunn turns it around again and the "accent" (or what we're used to hearing as an accent) is somewhere completely different. After this happens enough times, the mind just shuts off. There's no use trying to re-calibrate every five or ten seconds.
Or, properly, "that part" of the mind just shuts off: the part that likes to keep time. Not that likes time, but that likes to keep it, and package it, and remember it for later in more easily-digestible threes and fours. When that part acquiesces, there's an entire universe to be found–the universe that consists of addition, not multiplication—a universe that does not remember multiples.
Steve Gunn's latest work, Boerum Palace, is available as of last November from Three Lobed Recordings.
mwalker on 02/19/2010 at 09:00AM
This Friday (2/19/10), ISSUE’s first-ever Artist-in-Residence Collective returns for their second monthly concert. The ensemble consists of Shannon Fields, Laura Ortman, Matt Lavelle, Shelley Burgon, Ryan Sawyer, and Jon Natchez (long-time collaborators from their 10+ years of work together in the now-concluded Stars Like Fleas). For the second residency concert, Jon Natchez and Matt Lavelle will present works to be performed by the collective. Shelley Burgon and Ryan Sawyer will lead the ensemble on 3/26/10.
To get everyone amped for the second installment of the residency, Shannon Fields and Laura Ortman have shared the recordings from their fantastic first performance. I‘ve included all three compositions from the show in a mix included below.
mwalker on 02/11/2010 at 04:14PM
This Valentine’s Day evening, a handful of our world’s most soulful guitarists will gather at ISSUE Project Room to pay loving tribute to the great Jack Rose, who passed away in December at the much too young age of 38. The lineup, comprised of those friends whom he inspired and who inspired him, includes the Black Twig Pickers (the group featured on Jack’s most recent album), Pelt (with whom Jack played on and off again from ’95 until his death), Steve Gunn, Tom Carter, Marcia Bassett, Michael Chapman, and Glenn Jones.
I have compiled a mix from the ever-astounding well of riches that is the FMA, featuring musicians set to take part in Sunday’s celebration of Jack Rose’s incredible music. The mix traverses equal territory in the lands of drone and Takoma-style virtuosity, both worlds in which Jack established a voice of deeply-felt originality and undeniable importance. The last work in the mix features Mr. Rose himself, performing live with Peter Walker -- a long-established member of a short lineage of finger-picking legends whose ranks Jack has undoubtedly joined.
mwalker on 02/08/2010 at 08:30AM
Unsound Festival New York kicked off last Thursday evening (2/4) – marking the first incarnation of the innovative performance and lecture series outside its homeland of Poland. Founded in Kraków in 2003 by curator Mat Schulz, Unsound Festival explores the intersections between “electronic, experimental, independent, post-classical, and club music scenes.” After only four days time, the festival is already crowded with stunning highlights. I caught the opening night show at Lincoln Center featuring a terrific set from Finnish DJ/composer/drummer Vladislav Delay (whose Tummaa album was probably my fav release of 09) in collaboration with German video artist Lillevan. Still recovering (in a variety of ways) from a startlingly fresh sequence of programming at Le Poisson Rouge last night: performances of classical music touchstones Pictures at an Exhibition (Moussorgsky) and Bolero (Ravel) were followed by an absolutely resplendent, mind-blowing set of abstract electronic improvisations from the North American debut of the Moritz Von Oswald Trio, featuring surprise guests Francois K (!) and Carl Craig (!!). Levon Vincent closed the event with a blistering DJ set that carried on until the very early morning hours (I’m lame and only made it until about 3:30am…)
ISSUE Project Room will host two events in the festival this week. The “Electronic Bridge” program on Tuesday night (2/9) serves as the first in a thread of thematic shows under the Eastern Promise banner, seeking to highlight a number of important Eastern European artists generally underexposed in the U.S. The “Electronic Bridge” will feature a diverse array of experimental electronic music from Zavoloka (Ukraine) and Zenial (Poland), as well as a set from NY local Bora Yoon in collaboration with composer R. Luke DuBois on the live video tip. To whet appetites for what should be a fantastic show, I’ve compiled a dope little mix featuring works from the artists on the program.
Check here and here for more info on the two shows at ISSUE, and here for a full schedule of the rest of the festival.
andrewcsmith on 02/01/2010 at 02:30PM
It’s not so much hearing things happen. It’s more like noticing that things have changed, and now it’s time to re-assess your surroundings. It’s not so much listening for individual motivic and textural changes. It’s more like looking at time-lapse photography. It’s not so much seeing it all happen sped up. It’s more like looking at each image for a full minute or two. It’s not so much like noticing the movement of forms in the photo. It’s more like noticing the movement of color and shadows, whether random or patterned.
As a direct consequence of stretching one moment into such a duration, the slightest changes become tectonic shifts.
The Necks’ music comes in pockets, in revolutions per second that sometimes are very slow, and other times are very fast. Still other times, slow moments are superimposed on percussion patterns approaching twenty Hertz, the lower range of audible frequency. Phantom sounds come from Chris Abrahams’ piano strings, or maybe from Lloyd Swanton’s bass bowing in the upper registers. They could also be coming from how Tony Buck drags a cymbal across another cymbal.
andrewcsmith on 01/29/2010 at 01:05PM
More from Tony's brain today: this one comes from the MIVOS Quartet's June 2009 performance at ISSUE that also featured Luke DuBois's string quartet "Hard Data." Tony Conrad's "Minor" takes a 31-pitch-to-the-octave scale (a step up from the usual twelve), and fairly common harmonies become unfamiliar.
The first chord sounds, then the second, in an angular harmonic move like something from late Wagner, and back to the first chord again. Or, wait, it sounds like a new chord now--the microtonal inflections giving each chord a different vector and acceleration, like looking at the same object at dusk instead of dawn.
The contentious history of the "minor" scale might have something to do with this. Harry Partch, whose influence trickled down through La Monte Young (and many, many others), used an "undertone" scale as well as an "overtone" scale. In this tuning, the composer would (essentially) multiply the base pitch by whole numbers for a major scale, and divide the base pitch for the minor scale. Young, on the other hand, just used the upper-reaches of the major scale (the multiples 6, 7, and 9) to form the minor triad: there were many more different conceptions of "minor" theorized in the 20th century alone, which is not to mention that the minor chord was the number one roadblock for just about every tuning theorist since "minor" came into being.
Tony Conrad uses these "minor" tunings and more to defamiliarize the scale as we know it. For this performance, the MIVOS Quartet detuned their instruments ("scordatura") so that they could play in the same hand positions to reach strange notes on mistuned strings. The performance resonates with the open strings, and feels less like moving through standard chromatic harmony than like looking through a microscope at a large object and trying to keep the whole thing in your head at once.
TAGGED AS:tony conrad
andrewcsmith on 01/25/2010 at 05:46PM
As a little preview of Peg Simone's upcoming release, "Secrets From The Storm," we've got a live recording from her previous performance at ISSUE. First of all, there's the haunting drone/narrative pieces "Boilermakers" and its sequel "O Holy Night."
Simone also plays guitar in what might nearly be called ISSUE's unofficial house band (the favorite band of founder Suzanne Fiol), Jonathan Kane's February. So, as if these first two extended narratives were not enough, Kane joins her for the final track: their extended version of "When The Levee Breaks," (1927/Levee).
That same night, we had the strange sounds of Chicago-based sound artist J.R. Robinson--they sound a little bit like if you played a field recording of the jungle backward and added some guitar tracks. M.V. Carbon and Zach Layton finish out the mix, with lush pads that quickly turn angry.