Wednesday, October 03, 2007

High Zero 2007: Concert 4

High Zero Festival of Experimental Improvised Music - Concert 4
September 29, 2007 @ Theatre Project, Baltimore, MD

Solo set:
Jaap Blonk: voice, electronics

Set one:
John Berndt: electronics, inventions
Asimina Chremos: movement
Dan Conrad: inventions
Sofia Jernberg: voice

Set two:
Eric Franklin: strings, percussion
Chris Heenan: contrabass clarinet, alto saxophone
Stewart Mostofsky: electronics, strings
Massimo Simonini: prepared theremin, objects, voice

Set three:
Audrey Chen: cello, voice, electronics
Aaron Dilloway: 8-tracks, electronics
Chiara Giovando: voice, violin, electronics
Bonnie Jones: electronics

Set four:
Jaap Blonk: voice
Dan Breen: strings, percussion, electronics
Matana Roberts: alto saxophone
Shodekeh: human beat-boxing

There really aren't enough places to hear a proper reading of Dadaist poetry. Rushing into that massive void one finds the eccentric and talented Jaap Blonk from Amsterdam. Reading from a single page with the German word for "scream or cry" printed multiple times Blonk worked that one word through many, many verbal iterations that shaded forcefully toward the profound disdain of war and barbarism that fueled the Dada movement.

Blonk also included a performance on the "cheek synthesizer" as part of his solo set as he contorted and stretched his face before a pair of microphones. "I use two microphones, because the cheek synthesizer is a stereo instrument." The intensity of this performance was equal parts low-tech and high-fun. And the stereo component was no joke as he had a clear handle on the panning properties of his own face.

This sense of play carried over into the first group set as John Berndt moved from behind his invented instruments to interact with Asimina Chremos's improvised dance armed with a styrofoam cooler with a slinky attached to it. The odd collection of movement and invented instruments actually yielded a tangibly sensitive expressiveness directed toward Baltimore's instrument inventor and experimental music fixture Neil Feather, who was home recovering from a recent motorcycle accident.

The highlight of the evening was the final group set as a last minute addition of Jaap Blonk provided a rare Amsterdam-meets-Baltimore take on vocal improvisation as Shodekeh matched his beat-boxing prowess with the Dutch voice master. In the end, it was Matana Roberts that emerged as a serious improvisational force. At one point she let out a "don't leave me alone" as the other three players had practically stopped playing to expose and admire her sound.

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