Upon arrival in Edmonton, I vowed to jump into the city’s music life, and the experimental/sound art scene in particular. I’d contacted my earlier acquaintances in the area, Shawn Pinchbeck and Gary James Joynes, to let them know I was here for any future happenings. So when I found out about SONAR, at the University of Alberta Museums Enterprise Square Galleries, it was a sonic treat I couldn’t refuse. The exhibition featured sound projects through recordings, interactive environments, and installations referencing noise, electroacoustic, experimental and minimalist sound art practices. And Shawn, Gary and Scott Smallwood were performing as Trio Latitude for the opening! I brought my camera and took some pics and video of the show. I didn’t get much time to view the artwork on display, but it did fuel some excitement for what kinds of inspired projects are being made – like cassette tape work from Parker Thiessen and accordions in various environs by Raylene Campbell. Afterwards, I went for celebratory beer and food with Trio Latitude and I spun a few Newfoundland tales. They all said they were glad to see me in Edmonton, and I couldn’t agree more.
Every two years in St. John’s, there’s a week-long summer event that sounds like bliss to my ears and gives meaning to the music I craft — Sound Symposium. If I’m not participating as an official artist on the program, I usually make a point of attending some featured performances and ASSUREDLY get to The Ship Pub for the featured Night Music events. This was the case for my immersion into Sound Symposium XVII, and it began with a scorching free show at Harbourside Park by fusion trio Big Space, with a repeat engagement for the evening’s Night Music. Anyone unfamiliar with the later bar show should know it opens with a set by the featured act, then follows with improvised jams including other musicians in attendance. This is where I like to include myself, and where I switch up my choice of instrument I select to bring each night. Circuit-bent Sound Machine, Spider-Man Voice Changer, Mattel Calliope, Roland sampler and Thingamagoop 2 were the choice standouts for certain! The Symposium is the only way for me to hear anything — sound poetry mulcher Chris Tonelli and Leatherback, jazz versions of Zep’s “Whole Lotta Love” (and nods to Barney Miller) by Curtis Andrews and Friends Like These, the exotic sounds of Boujou Badialy Cissoko‘s kora or Bart Hopkin‘s fascinatingly-built experimental instruments — and still get to freely chat and share company with those taking part in it. The Friday, July 11th Night Music was the tops with local sax quartet Ouroboros with special guest Jessica Lurie, and fuelled a frenzy of jamming afterwards, mostly with prepared guitar mangler Bill Horist. What a spirited (hic!) time had by all, and some friendly music-making made!
Recently I decided to take an opportunity to join some local artists at Eastern Edge Gallery, and perform a sound art piece for their Annual Members Exhibition. I wanted to revisit the cassette tape’s role in history and in memories by using a couple of Sony Walkman players (Sport and classic 80’s Stereo models) routed through partially functioning outdated electronic equipment. The setup consisted of a busted Tascam Portastudio 246 with effects sends from a Digitech Delay rack into a small, crackly Realistic amp, which was output to a working Sony stereo able to record (to tape) the resulting performance. Playback of delay-warbled sections of early-1980’s cassettes (mostly recorded from vinyl by my uncle) in oddly familiar cacophony made for an interesting background for those gathered to see the other artworks featured in the gallery. Thanks to Michael Waterman and Kevin Hehir of Noice for their assistance. I returned Tuesday to listen back to the cassette of the night’s show (available as an installation for the week), and it sounds much clearer in headphones. This brings me to my closing message: somebody else’s trash is another’s art. I felt the need to get better utilization from my stack of archaic equipment and underused (yet “retro”) tapes, so I decided to fashion some new memories by destroying the old ones. And maybe a little more destruction or deconstruction is needed in these times of excess, instead of hoarding countless piles of vintage ‘stuff’ that you’ve outgrown. Some of these historical fragments of society have real value — at least in shaping who we are (or what we do) as people. Others are just sentimental junk we should throw away, or in my case, recycle one last time. Included are a few pics of the setup at Eastern Edge, and I may revisit the mangled tape theme for a future idea. I’ll keep you posted.
So I ordered a new laptop recently to help me with any upcoming musical efforts…and mostly to avoid any unnecessary blue-screening from the old one. A bit of a chunk of change, but worth it for the customization. The only issue is that now I also need to procure the extra funds for upgraded DJ and sound production software, Traktor Pro and Ableton 9, respectively. Also worth it, but maybe at a slower rate of acquisition. There’s always going to be other gear to purchase in the grand scheme of things. I like using my old stuff, but sometimes it’s not compatible with new operations. And everyone loves to get new stuff, even if cash flow is dicey.
On that note, I’m including a new track on the Bandcamp page. Figured I’d toss this one up because I had most of the parts prepared (on my archaic version of Ableton), and it was sounding pretty great. Imagine a future world suddenly littered with lifetimes of discarded busted electronics, broken metal and plastic, and you being disoriented by the surrounding masses of jungle-like peripheral cables and endless extension cords hanging over the earth. What kinds of misplaced creatures or tribal cyborgs would you encounter? Ponder this scenario while you listen to los beatniko‘s new single, “Jungle Of Wires.” Here’s the track:
Here’s to a new season of collection! With purpose!
I read a good article my friend Gary James Joynes shared recently, by writer Geeta Dayal. Got me thinking about my role as a “dial twiddler” in the universe, and how I’ll never be happy doing anything otherwise. Isn’t this how an artist expresses oneself? By inventing and experimenting in their chosen medium, because it’s NECESSARY for personal satisfaction in their world. Not because anybody has to like it. Not everyone will. If there are those who appreciate (or pay you for) your creations, then give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. You made an artistic impression on an audience who gets your stuff. Sound artists have been messing around for centuries, with varied tools and results. Everyone has their own method. The fact of the matter is that sounds are heard differently by a multitude of different people (especially these days), no matter how they’re created. And I’ll do it till I’m dead. End of story. Here’s some art: