Sunday, April 27, 2008

Stranger than Friction

Jack Wright/Katsura Kan & TROCKENEIS @ The Carriage House, Baltimore, MD
Friday, April 25, 2008

Audrey Chen: electronics, voice, frictions
Catherine Pancake: dry ice, percussion
Dan Breen: electronics, tools, rake
Andy Hayleck: percussion, frictions
Paul Neidhardt: laptop, percussion

Jack Wright: saxophones
Katsura Kan: Butoh dance

What does dry ice sound like? The on stage visual qualities have been well plumbed, but the sonic potential rests squarely in the hands of Catherine Pancake, possibly the closest thing to a dry ice virtuoso to come along in any generation. Making music with extremes in temperatures necessitates a good set of oven mitts as she takes heated cymbals from a portable heating element and applies hot metal to a slab of dry ice. At times the sounds unleashed are startling in their loudness, a dynamic range controlled by the amount of pressure applied between parts. Pancake also explores the more subtle frictions of spoons and forks along the ice and fills out her sound set with hand held gongs and bowed cymbals.

The other members of Trockeneis delve further into the frictional soundscapes as the collective drone of acoustic tectonic plates evolved into a pair of long-form improvisations. Each performer bringing a slightly different instinct to the elemental qualities of objects rubbing against each other. It is a sound filled with subtle detail and a deliberately blank foreground.

The duet of movement and saxophone that followed managed to heighten the other-worldliness of the evening. The pale form of Katsura Kan nearly blended into the wall in the dim light as the intensity of his movements and stark expressiveness was complimented by the air passing through saxophone as exhaled by Jack Wright. The austere, heavily restrained release of this duo shifted focus on details often overlooked in collaborative performance. The meditative quality of movement and music offering a gentle invitation to open one's thoughts and ears.

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