Thursday, October 04, 2007

High Zero 2007: Concert 5

High Zero Festival of Experimental Improvised Music - Concert 5
September 30, 2007 @ Theatre Project, Baltimore, MD

Solo set:
ID M Theft Able: mouth, frictions, textures

Set one:
Jeff Carey: computer, original software
Aaron Dilloway: 8-tracks, electronics
Donna Parker: sound (processed feedback)
Shodekeh: human beat-boxing

Set two:
John Berndt: electronics, inventions
Jaap Blonk: voice, electronics
Audrey Chen: cello, voice, electronics
Matthias Kaul: percussion, hurdy-gurdy
Massimo Simonini: prepared theremin

Set three:
Jeff Carey: computer, original software
Dan Conrad: inventions
Eric Franklin: strings, percussion
Sofia Jernberg: voice
Eve Risser: prepared piano, toys, voice

Set four:
Peter Blasser: inventions, french horn
Jamie Branch: trumpet
John Dierker: reeds
Kyp Malone: guitar, voice

Even within a festival that celebrates weird techniques and aggressively presents exquisite displays of strangeness ID M Theft Able comes off as an odd duck. After hatching and testing a scheme for controlled audience involvement ("imitate whatever noise I'm making with my mouth when I hold my right hand up like this") one could see the mischief creeping over his bearded face ("Okay... this is going to be fun!"). The twenty minute solo set that followed was filled with extremes of intensity, focused restlessness and relentless whimsy. ID M's an odd duck with a lot of charm. It would be great to see him with his amplified metal table filled with toys within his home element up in Windham, Maine.

The first group set turned up the volume. Way up. And in a way the High Zero Festival needed a good blowout set like this one to release some aggressive energy. At one point Shodekeh took Donna Parker's microphone - the one she waves in front of her speaker to spin out waves of ear-splitting feedback - and cranked out some beat-box grooves as Parker processed his signal. After so many sets of pulse-free textures it was cathartic to see so many heads moving to the same groove.

From this point on the evening settled into a long decrescendo with each successive set mining quieter and quieter material. The third group set was unbelievably beautiful as the quintet unfolded a pair of restrained pieces. Eve Risser in particular has an intriguing improvisative instinct.

The final set completed the steady drop in decibels to conclude the main concert series of this year's High Zero. The high degree of interaction between players was particularly apparent as each found a thoughtful response toward one another.

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