Category: Festival

Decibel 2010

October 2010

Lo Dubs Showcase
In a festival that included several repeat performances in its seventh year, London’s Dan Richmond, known as Clubroot, was among Decibel’s biggest surprises. His dubstep set at the cozy Baltic Room was steeped in deep abstract chords of claptrap beats, and smooth harmonics. The open-faced rhythms drew a small swarm of people to their feet almost as soon as he began. By incorporating a drone drenched core, he then thickly laid a bold percussive sensibility throughout, having just the right mastery of the mixer to gracefully shape the thumping vibe down. The dual level club was the perfect setting for a make-shift A/V scene with fabrics posing as silver screens hung above the heads of even the tallest dancers.
TJ Norris

Optical 1
Optical 1’s set-up at the elegant Benaroya Hall, a classically modern performance space, had Berlin-based composer Robert Henke physically behind the audience. It was a smart choice, focusing the audience on the vibratory, heavy bass drone that began his set. From that grew the trance-inducing stimulus of the artist’s signature deep layering of warm ambience. Images of fields and giant ants overlaid with underwater settings pulsating with tiny bubbles morphed on a screen, as a frenetic ticking beat led way to conductive sounds emanating at highs and lows with a stylish cadence. Murcof delivered a slow and deliberate set that stole from classical music and gave back a bit of a squeaky chair full of broad bass, cello strings, offbeat Latin flourishes that ranged from undulating to slow motion. His work ascended in moments of the psychedelic with a cavernous virtuosity, but a quick pan of the room revealed a split crowd. Some were completely riveted and others heads were reclined in REM.

Mark Van Hoen presented what seemed to be live video sound collages that started off with a genuinely fluid cut-up of Joni Mitchell from her blue period. Van Hoen then added percussive accompaniment from an unknown drummer taken from Iranian television. Each piece was fairly short, like a pop song. Next were layers of players, someone that could be the torso of Little Richard mixed with late ’70s hair rock on one channel and ’80s 4AD (here, presumably the Cocteau Twins). By using source material that drew from the synergy of successive decades, detailing voice and other instrumentation made for a ghostly mash-up—a somewhat brilliant cross section of both Jason Forrest and Christian Marclay.
TJ Norris


Decibel Festival on Resident Advisor

Here is the piece where I contributed as part of a team for this year’s Decibel Festival. This is my first piece for Resident Advisor. Below are quick clips that I shot with iPhone…Depicted are Fennesz (w/Lillevan), Monty Lake (who proceeded Carl Craig and the amazing Kevin Saunderson) and the growing-on-me Oneohtrix Point Never.

Other Random Festival Thoughts:

Room40: Rafael Anton Irisarri on stage (also one of the organizers of this festival). Bow to guitar, broadly spread drones, rumbled through space, inside Pravda Studios (a photo/video space?)…abrupt shift in cacophonous cadence into near silence, way too short 15 min set. Then on stage is Australian label master Lawrence English (had a nice chat with him beforehand). Sounds like a heavy rainstorm on a tin shed, overly percussive. Deep bass drone feel through floor which he suggested lying on (many did, most of 175 person crowd). One long note chamber symphony. Wind tunnel w/harmonics. Soften nicely towards end with not really any break right into Grouper (she’s from Portland!). At first taking English’s set and slowly stretched it’s tones seamlessly. She played lengthy string drones lead into a smoky silk vocal treatment (almost indistinguishable from an instrument with faded watery guitar. Devastating. Apocalyptic….People slowly meandered back into seating for Ben Frost, but I left the room.

Flying Lotus show at Neumos was packed to gills. A complete collage of sounds, hardly as smooth as the records though still somewhat of a crafty jumble.

Mark Van Hoen combined religious and Africana dance rhythms twisted together….out of video of movement/body clips. Image of Ian Curtis was kind of awkwardly disturbing, caught only between vocals. Extatic, lost. Paired with imagery of Karen Carpenter (both suicidal).

At Neumos Shlomo pumped fat chunky faded beats mixed into clacktracks reverberating over yellow dotted and lined video content. Having fun the whole time as he danced staccato in between to beats. Tall and lanky his sleeves ran almost to his fingertips.

The Optical II set included Noveller from Brooklyn on guitar. Blending Japanese distant harmonies, foot pedals, whir/buzz. Sharp cut into shoegazer poppy rhythms, somewhat silky. Guitar treatments, went from bubblewrap sounding into a coming storm, cowbells creating a metallic dissonance. Trance inducing.
Her third piece was more ambient.

Fennesz w/video artist Lillevan created a symphonic barrage, with exuberant string jams. The set shot through decibels stealing raw back – leaving the room dry as a bone. Perfect, cryptic and serrated video accompaniment. They had an encore: including an addition of Rafael Anton Irisarri on treated guitar. It was all quite dreamy. I’m a bit Speechless. Then rather newcomer from Editions Mego, Oneohtrix Point Never whose set was much more improvisational sounding, using vocal as source, treated with old school synth sounds. Atonal with harmonies, discordant, a bit melancholy. While wearing a coalminer single light on his head (good for him) he created long stealthy passages, deep with bass. Left me a bit drunk.

Later that night at Neumos Tijuanan Fax played over very steady dance beats laid down some vibrant guitar riffs, long tones with elegant echo. Dark dance vibes with a unique reverberated structure. Saw him about 4 or 5 years ago and his sound has matured dramatically. Playing into a pitter-patter almost like the theme from the original Dr Who series – like a soundtrack for the room. He then heated it up with funky percussion. Oh most definitely!

[The User] @ TodaysArt 2010

Founded in 1998 [The User]have created a work which transforms obsolete office technology into an instrument for musical performance. It toured for two years in the late 90s and now is back as part of the emerging TodaysArt 2010 taking place in The Hague on September 24-25. The festival looks very promising and is now in its sixth running year, also including Conrad Schnitzler, Actress, Mika Vainio, Klimek, Byetone, ATOM™, and X-102 (Jeff Mills & Mike Banks) among others. Sounds like a smart roster.

Symphony #2 for dot matrix printers was co-commissioned by the Fondation Daniel Langlois and Hull Time Based Arts, with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.

Mutek Rounds Out Next Edition

Adding to the earlier report of performers featured in this year’s version of Mutek are the next wave of twenty sound artists including Pimmon, Nurse With Wound and Montreal’s-own Herman Kolgen. Sounds eclectic as usual and though my personal travel plans and participation is on the fence I will most certainly be there in spirit either way. Here are the other international performers who plan to take the stage:


The final listing will be posted here on April 13th….

Activating the Medium

Activating the Medium XIII takes to the streets of San Francisco from April 16-17, brought on by the incredible minds behind 23five Incorporated. This year’s event includes two chapters at The Lab (Swissnex). Performances by Adam Sondenberg, Rale (performing Lovely Limb of the House) and G*Park (Marc Zeier) among others. The organization site mentions Arte Sonoro, a sound installation by Jason Kahn who performed live at Reed last year.

Qwartz 6 takes Paris

The 6th annual Qwartz Exposition Internationale de la Creation Independante Electronic Music Awards converges on Paris from April 2-3. This year’s Présidence d’Honneur is non other than 12K’s director, composer Taylor Deupree. More about the awards here. You can view clips from past renditions of this incredible showcase of some of the best international intermedia media work on QwartzTV.