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.
Full Tones was part of a series of concerts held on the Full Moon curated by Land and Sea who operate out of Oakland Ca.
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!
As promised in my previous post, here is a follow up with some coverage of Susanne Ciani’s appearance at The Berkeley Museum a week after the main festival of performances celebrating the work of Don Buchla. This was a sort of auxiliary set and also coincided with the ‘Hippie Modernism’ exhibit that runs through May 21st.
I met up with my friend Eric M. and the brilliant folks behind RE-search Pubs V.Vale and Marian to experience this special event.
Susanne came out and took in the crowd which had an obvious overwhelming effect on her as she was back ‘home’ in Berkeley again where she originally worked with Don Buchla back in the early days of her discovery of synthesized music. She had an emotional response which set the mood for the event and made it that much more special. She spoke a bit about meeting Don and how he influenced and affected her whole approach and philosophy about music making and perhaps maybe a bit about life in general.
Something happened during her set as well, it was that feeling you get when someone hits you with a really personal and emotional performance, which usually only happens in a conventional music scenario involving perhaps heavy lyrics or a soul wrenching melody. I’ve never gotten that from a synthesizer set and I realized the same thing happened during her set the previous weekend, I just didn’t really acknowledge it until it happened again, the hair raising on my arms etc. I told her as much afterwards and she almost cried right there! It was an amazing connection.
Enjoy her full set here:
See my previous post for more from Susanne as well as additional footage from The Don Buchla Memorial Shows
This was a 2 day (all day and all of the night) celebration of Don Buchla’s creative achievements in music and his development of what became known as West Coast Synthesis. Buchla was a contemporary of Bob Moog who operated out of Berkeley in the early days of synthesizer development and as early as 1963 was developing modules for The Tape Music Center. There is a ton of info out there on him, so I won’t get into his many contributions and long career as a designer/engineer etc.
I was only available to attend the second evening of performances but the entire weekend hosted by Gray Area SFwas full of activities and panels and performances by an array of sound artists. Some acts were set up onstage with a few various ‘rigs’ and contraptions set up on the floor which made it an exciting experience as you never quite knew where to position yourself in between acts, it was a great way to experience a show with that format. In fact right from the beginning, walking into the dark hall drenched in red light was a welcoming experience with sound artist Layne set up on the floor working a smaller sized Buchla with some lovely drones and washes, a bit more of an ambient background thing but still very present and engaging. Also set up on the floor in the center was Keith Fullerton Whitman’s modular set-up from which he put down an intense set, melodic with a good balance of tension and release.
This first video is just a few of the artists who performed on Sunday including Layne, bran(…)pos who performed from some kinda whirlybird contraption with video projection and synth wackiness, bringing a carney vibe…there’s also a few minutes of Keith Fullerton Whitman down on the floor with the people!
Easily the big highlight was seeing Susanne Ciani her set was also intense at times, you could really see her working to keep the machine under control and masterfully at that. I went with some friends to see her the following week at The Berkeley Museum and both times I felt something…which says a lot when it comes to synthesised sounds. Those may be the first times I have felt something more organic and less technical from a set of that nature, which is a major feat in my opinion. Below is the last 7 and a half minutes of her set.
Alessandro and I spoke a bit about our mutual love for 4 track tape machines which is what he used for his moving set to close out the night. He performed, against a projection of home movies, his latest work Avanti. Very personal, very moving and a perfect come down from the event as it was refreshing to hear someone work a simple tape machine after all of the mind blowing tech heavy sounds that we just experienced.
As I mentioned earlier we went to see Susanne again in Berkeley the following weekend so look to the next post for that video!
Also, fellow blogger Encyclotronic posted a variety of videos from the entire weekend, so if you can’t get enough, go check them out as well!