The folks behind the Live@ series are doing the Pittsburgh Music Festival in November, and apparently I'm a part of it! This is an afternoon show, which is a touch unusual for me, but I've done 'em before. I have two hours, so I'll be doing two sets! From three to four, it's the return of Death Pig! I'll fire up the no-input setup for a fresh dose of pure electrons. Come journey with me through the feedback city of my mind.
From four to five, I'll broaden the scope with an ambient set of Guitar Clouds. I've been investigating some new frequency relationships, for effects ranging from reflective, to heroic, to post-human alienation. For some reason, I'll be playing on a day which will have mostly acoustic performers, so I'm sure it'll all end in tears for somebody. Probably not you, though, so come on out.
The Live@ people want me to give them an idea of potential audience size, so if you're thinking of coming (or thinking of staying away) please let me know.
Quiet Storm Coffeehouse: 5430 Penn Avenue (corner of Penn and Graham), Garfield. Afternoon show: *3:00 PM* (that's right--three in the afternoon). All ages. $6. For two--count 'em!--two hours! Directions at http://tinyurl.com/62vvk
For as hard as the Live@ people work on setting up their shows--and I do appreciate the work they do--I'd seen a pattern with the three I'd done so far, which was that any audience would be entirely through my own efforts. At the last one (the C&I show) we discussed my participating in the Pittsburgh Music Festival they were having, which sounded good...although the Sunday afternoon time seemed unpromising. In the event, it was indeed unpromising--I was up against a Steeler game during the team's strongest season in a long time, and consequently there was no paying audience.
On the plus side, it's been quite a while since I've done a Death Pig set, and it was nice to record one, even if there was functionally no audience. In some ways, though, the lack of audience was a convenience to me--I'd not had time to eat lunch, and I was comped on (nonalcoholic) drinks, and given half price on food. So I ordered a rather tasty vegan burrito, which I ate during my DP set, eating with one hand and tweaking effects pedal knobs with the other. This might have been a distraction to any audience. There were some notable moments, although DP stuff can be hard to monitor correctly, especially when there's background noise. Still, there were some potentially usable points.
I finished that up and took a break before going into the guitar clouds set. At points, Music happened, although toward the end I also felt the music drain out of the process, possibly because the method I'm using (rhythmically related ring modulated delays) has become routine and somewhat predictable to me now. Also, as much as I like G, I miss the multiple channel controls on one screen that Girl had, which let me tweak things more quickly. But again, there were moments.
So as disasters go, it was pretty mild. I did a long double set to pretty much no one (apart from the staff, the sound guy, and the Live@ folks), but got a chance to record. And then it was time to get home and get back to work on both work and the scores I'd been writing for the show on the following Saturday.
I myself am keeping the January post-holiday letdown at bay by kicking the distraction level to high. I've already launched onezero music and am working on enhancements.
I'm also working with some new software, Ableton Live. I've given a...rather odd...interview for Re-Record ROMzine that should be coming out soon (my artistic contribution is due this weekend, so I'd better get cracking on that). And after a bit of a break, I'm playing live again, very soon. Next week, in fact:
On Monday, January 26, I'll be returning to Club Cafe, doing a solo set of feedback as Death Pig, *and* an Unindicted Co-Conspirators set with accordionist/melodica player/throat singer/avant-gardeist-about-town Steve Pellegrino.
The schedule is this:
* 7:30 sharp--Death Pig (no-input effects pedal feedback; it's dark ambientlicious)
* 8:15--Sugapablo (super-friendly hypnotic grooves from this MIDI-box master)
* 9:00--The Unindicted Co-Conspirators (a harmonic PowerBook puree of live guitar and accordion)
* 9:45--Xanopticon (Skull-crushing breakcore madness! You will succumb!)
Ideally, we'll have some time to do a quick improv, too--and with Xanopticon in the mix, that ought to be interesting, for sure. So put a big red mark on your calendar for this one. (Why the DP set at 7:30? Since the last DP set was to just two people, I'm keeping this one exclusive also. If you catch this set, you can lord it over your friends who are just late-coming losers compared to your own gleaming royal hipness.)
Monday, January 26, 2004. 7:30 PM sharp. Club Cafe, 56-58 South 12th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203. 412-431-4950. 21+, $5.
While everybody talks about the weather, I did something about it--I ignored it. There was an ice storm all day, slated to get worse during the afternoon. Russ (Sugapablo) was concerned that he might have to cancel, but I wasn't going to. The covenant I made as a performer was--if I'd agreed to play--to show up on time and play, whether there was one person there, one hundred, or one thousand. (So far I've had the first two options covered.)
I'd picked up Mr. Funky on the way, and found that in the event, the most dangerous part of the evening was the walk from the car to the club--the cigar shop's sidewalk was an ultra-slick layer of pure ice. I'd talked to Steve Pellegrino and known that he was going to be there; Xanopticon confirmed a day or two ahead, but I wasn't sure with the weather, so I made some calls and emails, and hoped for the best.
What we got...was a bit of an audience, although mostly club staff. Still, there were people unknown to us there. Since Russ wasn't playing, I waited a bit longer than 7:30 before starting, and ultimately we did get some people.
I must have set up in an order different from the last Death Pig show, because the sound was a lot more up-front and compressed--there was less echo and delay, and at first I couldn't hear any effect of manipulating the Ibanez digital modulation delay. I checked some cables, which meant that there was a fair amount of crackle and plugging/unplugging going on early in the set, as I tried to figure out what was going on. Turns out, it was the mix knob on the Digitech sampler, set to delay only, so new stuff wasn't getting through. At least I found out early.
I wasn't terribly satisfied with it at the time; it lacked the atmosphere and depth of the set I've released, and it was more of a struggle to get sounds I liked. Still, there were some stretches in there that I like, and they may yet show up on something. There were some nice beat/repetitive melody sections, some helicoptery drones, and some percussive sounds that I might keep around. Not a resounding success, but certainly a respectable effort, particularly toward the end, with some rapid modulations and an enjoyable consonant drone. And while I was playing, Xanopticon came in, having braved the weather and our spotty bus system to get there. (Much to my surprise, he was toting only the laptop, and not the desktop machine.) For the rest of the evening, see the next review.
The Wired Monday shows are back, but it's summer and it's hot and we're all disoriented, so they're on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. I'm not playing on the 1st, though. (I'll be there, probably participating in the improv--on the 1st we'll have Automatic Matt's turntable noise and samples, Cocky Child's smart, clicky ambience, and newcomer Temison Adoki's stunning, exquisitely crafted glitchcore.) But on the 2nd, I'll be playing with these fine musicians:
* Lord Grunge: Mighty raps and house-shaking laptop beats from this member of Grand Buffet
* Powder French: Pittsburgh's own dark ambient soundscape pioneer
* Death Pig (yep, me again): the current plan is to bring all the effects boxes for a bout of no-input ambient patterns and reasonably friendly noise. We'll see how this one goes.
As ever, 21+, $3, 7:30 to 10:30. These nights are calling your name. You are compelled. You will be there.
Well, they weren't there. But two people showed up, and we gave them a performance. And they liked it! I did in fact go through with the no-input plan. It was kind of weird not having the laptop at a show; it's been the one constant up to this point, apart from the Guitar Guitar Guitar Guitar Guitar show. When I showed up, Powder French was there, mostly set up.
I got the basic direct boxes and mic going, and set up my own array of stuff--the ring modulator, Graphic Fuzz, Ibanez modulation delay, Digitech 2-second sampler, Line6 delay modeler, and the FMR Audio Really Nice Compressor to keep from sending massive spikes through the sound system. (Admittedly it's a compressor and not a limiter, but my ART compressor/limiter is much more opaque and is more of a pain to haul around.) It took a while to make sense of this arrangement, so I was glad I spent some rehearsal time a few days before.
Greg (PF) and I had a chance to talk, and it turned out that years ago he played at the Arcane Device show at the Turmoil Room (R.I.P.), which is the occasion on which I first realized the possibilities of no-input. David Myers--Arcane Device himself--put out several albums of this, of which I have the brilliant and evocative Engines of Myth (RRR) and the double (triple?) 7-inch single set. I remember reading that he retired from music due to hearing damage. Can anyone confirm this? In any event, it was interesting to find out that Greg had been at that show. I remember going into the space and seeing the outlines of Minozin-V behind a translucent plastic screen. Sounds came out from behind it, we could see motion, but it was impossible to tell exactly what was going on. Later, Arcane Device came out, sat in one of the old chairs, and proceeded to blow our minds with his self-assembled feedback boxes.
Lord Grunge arrived shortly after this, and we got him set up quickly as he had just a laptop and would be using the mic. After some quick soundchecks, we took a break before doing the show. I figured I'd go on right at 8, which is what I did--only two people in the audience, but a) I didn't know them, so this was new to them, and b) they paid to get in and deserved a real show. So I started.
The difficulty of this kind of performance is that if you have the level knobs down far enough to avoid excruciating howling feedback, you won't know how far to put them up again to get the feedback. This leeds to a lot of nudging the volume up on something, then a little more, then a little more, then--WHAM, the room-clearing howl. But if you balance and filter it just right, you can get a little ringing tone that builds to a useful, listenable frequency. The line between them, however, is a thin one. Consequently, I spent my set gingerly turning up controls, occasionally giving a little jump when it tipped over into howling. Anytime something really interesting would happen, I'd try to grab it with the Line6.
I did about three different "pieces" (it was hard for me to tell when one ended and another began, but I figured if I was pausing, and chose to dump the contents of the Line6, then we'd call it a new piece) over 45 minutes, which seemed like a nice length to the set. Some of the sounds are quite satisfying (like one sound I'm convinced is the Death Pig itself!), some led to interesting little rhythms, and a few melodies. If things got too dense, I'd dump the Line6's memory, and overall it's sparse and dark. I'm reasonably happy with it. Greg loaned me his watch, so at 8:43 I put an end to the set.
Greg's set was next, and it went quite well--very soundscapy, yet more forceful than other times I've heard him. Lord Grunge was up next, and put on a large-sized show for our small audience, previewing some tracks from the upcoming Grand Buffet CD, as well as a karaoke Spice Girls cover. Well done. Toward the end, some friends of the club owner came in, so I ran back to the board to kick up his vocals a bit.
Both PF and LG did short sets, so we had plenty of time at the end. This led to a half hour of three improvs, which I quite liked playing. They were at times confusing--it was difficult to know who was making what sound, and whenever I turned any knobs, I couldn't tell if I was the one changing whatever was changing, or if that was just coincidence. Quite a lot of fun, and our two audience members had a good time.