It’s been a busy period for me, and this was one of those nights where I did not want to be out on a mid weeknight, but for Hans Joachim Rodelius to drag himself at the age of 82 all the way from Germany to perform for us here in SF made me recalibrate my mood and tough it out in order to enjoy the experience of witnessing this very rare performance by the only living founding member of Cluster/Kluster/Qluster and Harmonia and vanguard of the German avant garde underground music scene.
I had the chance to see Moebius a few years back (2012) and missed it for whatever reason and have been kicking myself because he has since passed away. I didn’t want to miss another opportunity to experience a living master of the craft.
His set at The Chapel SF opened with a bit of electronic work and he was joined by Tim Story also on electronics. This went on for awhile with Hans at one point transitioning to piano for some light melodic pieces, sketches almost, beautiful melodies, light and moody, playful yet melancholy at times. This first video captures some of that.
Tim departed the stage after the dedication to leave Hans to indulge in some more electronic work which was some of my favorite stuff of the evening. Abstract dynamic and dreamlike sounds culled from various sources created a lovely sound collage.
Nobody seemed to be sure what he was hearing but after his set he asked who in the crowd was playing with him as he seemed to hear some sort of Flutes or horn coming from somewhere in the building….maybe a ghost? Maybe a ghost in the machine?
He ended the set with a bit of a lull-a-bye on piano, stood up and took some pics of the crowd with his smart phone and then offered anyone who wanted to hug him to hang around afterwards. I went and picked up a record from his merch table and had a few moments with him, the record was already signed from the initial run but I had him sign it again. I asked if he ever figured out who was responsible for the sounds he heard to which he replied in that soft German accent ‘Was it you?’ hahaha! He told me to ‘spread love’ and he smelled like wine and we hugged and it was a wonderful experience.
I’ve been a fan of the early industrial scene and sounds since I was a teenager in the late 80’s early 90’s. Throbbing Gristle were at the forefront and Chris Carter’s synthesizer work has always been largely, if not wholly DIY, and his sounds have always had that edge and grit or ‘gristle’ if you will, that defined the genre.
I always loved that he built his own synths from the beginning and now he has his own line of eurorack style modules, The Gristleizer line.
In the video below you can watch Chris do a short set with his new line of modules that will actually be available to the public. In the video following that is a rig rundown and a chat about the line with a couple of the developers who helped design and build them. From what I can tell, this is just the beginning and there will be more of these to come, very exciting!
These were shot by DivKid who has an excellent youtube channel that covers the modular world in depth. His is an excellent resource for checking out gear demos and modular events around the UK. He also has a way of making this heady topic make sense and he does it in a way that is engaging and unpretentious, go check him out!
I found myself at The Berkeley Museum once again, where I had recently experienced another experimental electronic woman artist Suzanne Ciani. My wife and I attended this most recent performance with anticipation and a sense of pride, as my wife has been friends with Gabie since high school, and here she is performing at BAMPFA! If that isn’t enough to get excited about, also on the bill was Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe.
Gabie has been deeply involved in the experimental music underground for many years. She has been operating the radio show Crystalline Morphologies on KCHUNG 1630 AM radio out of Chinatown in LA. There are show archives that go back to 2011.
She has performed in and curated many events over the years, often developing site specific experiments.
She has also recently added an independent record label (also called Crystalline Morphologies) to her list of accomplishments and her 2 solo releases on vinyl and cassette are excellent slabs of experimental drone/noise and field recording.
Her set was a wonderful wash of guitar drone with a bit of contact mic experimentation deeper into the set that really brought an interesting performance element into the experience.
We had been planning on going to this event for a few weeks before I looked it up online and saw that Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe was also performing! I’d been following him for some time and have enormous respect for him being one of the few people of color operating at that level in electronic music. With cutting edge modular technology and an intellectual as well as soulful approach to the medium, he brings a much needed flavor to that scene. He incorporates his voice in wonderful ways as well as other acoustic elements fed into the modular for an otherworldly effect almost church-like. While I’m at it, I really recommend the stuff he did with experimental electronic legend Ariel Kalma. It was an honor to meet Robert and I do hope our paths cross again!