Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Sonic Gem of San Buenaventura

Ventura New(!) Music Festival. Posted by Hello

So HurdAudio finally got out for some live music tonight. Jeff Kaiser currated the Ventrua New Music Festival at Ventura City Hall and I was off to get acclimated to this corner of Southern California. There's some big ears down here as these improvising composer/performers have a great focus on timbre.

In particular I was impressed by missincinatti. The duo of Jeremy Drake on acoustic guitars (and live electronics) and Jessica Catron on cello built up some exquisitely delicate textures made by amplifying quiet extended techniques on their respective instruments. Alternate methods for vibrating strings were explored as Jessica Catron used vibrating tuning forks applied to open strings to trigger sympathetic vibrations and Jeremy Drake used a short bow and twisted tuning pegs. This duo is mining some particularly fertile territory within this pianissimo landscape.

Many Axes, the trio of Brad Dutz (percussion), Scott Wilkinson (Tuba, various flutes) and Susan Rawcliffe (instrument builder, winds) explored improvisational territory by mixing instruments from different geographies, intonation and cultures. Susan Rawcliffe's Harmonic Bass Flute was especially cool. The odd shape of multiple cylinders with a single stop and a hole at the end had me puzzling out the physics of such an instrument (all those vibrating columns air joined together at such odd angles). By having a low fundamental, Wilkinson could change the pitch by overblowing, underblowing and stopping or opening the single stop or hole at the end. It would be great to hear a piece that multi-tracks that instrument.

The final performance of the evening was Jeff Kaiser (trumpet, electronics) and Jim Connolly (acoustic bass). This duo had a nice sense of contrast as Jeff Kaiser had a nice instinct for when to serve up an aggressive blast from the electronics and when to pull back and let the acoustic sounds stand on their own.

Overall it was deeply encouraging to find so many musically adventurous souls just down the 101. I look forward to more sonic events from the pfMENTUM roster of artists.

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