High Zero Festival of Experimental Improvised Music - Concert 3
September 29, 2007 @ Theatre Project, Baltimore, MD
Criminal by Marina Rosenfeld
-A composition for 10 vocalists.
- Two players with digital delay
Kyp Malone: guitar, voice
Matana Roberts: alto saxophone
C(8,4) "Eight choose four"
8!/[4!*(8-4)!] = 70 possible combinations
Jaap Blonk: voice, electronics
Dan Breen: strings, percussion, electronics
Jeff Carey: computer, original software
Eric Franklin: strings, percussion
Thomas Helton: bass
Bonnie Jones: electronics (open circuit)
Donna Parker: sound (processed feedback)
Eve Risser: prepared piano, toys, voice
Kinetic Color with Dan Conrad
Peter Blasser: inventions, strings, trombone
Aaron Dilloway: 8-tracks, electronics
Matthias Kaul: percussion, hurdy-gurdy
Melissa Moore: field recordings (amplified micro-sounds), electronics
The "middle" concert of the five main High Zero Festival presentations took a slight departure from the free improvisation format to unfold a range of pre-determined improvisational strategies that occasionally bordered on "composed" over a handful of early afternoon sets.
An austere forest of microphone stands lined the stage from left to right in front of a white, fabric backdrop in preparation for Marina Rosenfeld's exquisitely textured Criminal. Nine performers armed with portable music players and headphones took their places in front of the microphones. On Rosenfeld's cue they hit 'play' and vocalized the asynchronous sounds that roughly resembled the musique concrete track that Rosenfeld mixed into the overall soundscape. Marina Rosenfeld has a fascinating musical sensibility and this work was the clearest example of her sound to emerge from the High Zero experience. As with so many of the performers involved with this festival, the ears were left deeply hungry from the brief glimpses that dribbled out from such a large pool of players.
Duo Delay worked with a simple and extremely effective conceptual basis. The duo of guitarist Kyp Malone and alto saxophonist Matana Roberts improvised with each other and against two time delayed playbacks of their own playing that appeared first on the left speaker, then on the right for a trio of duos separated over time. The sound resembled a train passing through a pair of tunnels as individual gestures and phrases would vanish and reemerge. Kyp Malone and Matana Roberts are outstanding, creative players and this set was easily the highlight of this year's High Zero Festival.
C(8, 4) is a rule-based improvisation piece that involves assembling quartets within a set of eight players. Dan Breen served as an ad hoc conductor as he used hand gestures to select (and de-select) players. The rule-set didn't strictly hold as there were frequent moments when there were more-than or less-than four active players at a time. This was partly because Eve Risser was performing with her back to Dan Breen much of the time. And honestly, once Risser got going I didn't really want her to stop. Having this particular rule set fall apart actually served the music well.
Kinetic Color featured a quartet of players running in parallel to an improvised light environment designed by Dan Conrad. The use of light, and the shadow silhouette of Peter Blasser marching while playing trombone behind the fabric backdrop, played up another dimension of theatre in a festival filled with dramatic turns. Including the light artist/performer on stage with the instrumentalists was a nice aesthetic touch that underscored the inter-disciplinary and inter-media bleed-through running throughout this festival.
(Photo Credit: Erin Baiano for The New York Times)