Gift Tapes /presents: Jonathan Sielaff, Million Mists, Norm Chambers
Our first show of 2017 felt like a real success, with the help of friends, lovely music and a supportive audience. It’s an especially important time for live music, for building community and for experiencing the creative expression of artists.
The evening opened up with a beautiful set by Norm Chambers on synthesizers, beginning with an intriguing introduction of mangled frequencies, followed up by one of his more signature melodic sets, offset by an LPG’d motorik beat powered by his euro-modular.
Jonathan Sielaff presented a powerful, dynamic set of processed bass clarinet and loops paired with a video sequence of structures among natural landscapes. His piece drew attention to the acoustics of space and varied in intensity throughout. Light floating melodies pierced by atonal moments of ripping, sub-augmented whines filled the space. My personal favorite moments were the forceful, flattening gestures that sounded like the removal a throat from a live guerrilla – intense!
Million Mists, Jamie Potter’s solo project, performance was a cold and cryptic set of feedback loops and synthesis accompanying a new video experiment. Potter’s adeptness as an improviser guided him into new and unusual territories of cycling sub bass tones and discrete hums on a self-oscillating analog drum head, a 70s wind/wave machine and delayed arpeggiations on a Pro-One, despite a brief technical issue of a dying piece of gear audibly hissing its way out of commission. The sounds were reminiscent of Potter’s early work with drone and noise in Bonus circa 2004. I inquired about the video after the show and he explained that he used a modified image of his own head (that we used for our press image) and 3D printed it, placed it on a turntable to rotate the head while projecting video feedback loops onto it, shooting it and then applying some post-processing. Video sample below:
This show wouldn’t have gone so well without the help of two great friends: James Watkins running video and lights, and Robert (RM) Francis managing the door. The Wayward Music Series (Steve Peters) generously offers a beautiful space to host performances, but the PA setup, running sound, working the door and managing the artists can be challenging without the help of a good team. Special thanks to those two for making this first performance a huge success!
The beauty of a flea market is the selection. Dusty treasures in need of some elbow grease sharing space with artifacts best left to rot. Adam Diller and Matt Crane scoop it all up; it’s all goods made for re-purposing. If the spate of post-apocalyptic pulp has taught us anything, it’s that those good with their hands and quick with their minds will rule what is left among us. Diller and Crane, you are our proven overlords. Spei Res truly reflects the hope of its title – an album brimming with kitchen sink aesthetics but much like the playful creations of Pee Wee Herman, the science behind $.99 Cent Dreams can’t be explained yet is fully enjoyed. It just works when it seems it shouldn’t. Songs that fill up with junk become antiquities to hoard. The duo have picked cleaned every bit of Americana arcana. I’m really floored by this, so much so that I’ve found a sander and have begun to clean my floors to make them proud again. Next will be the ceiling fixtures that, despite their appearance as King Midas’ nipples may in fact be the $.99 cent cache I desperately seek. All I know is that I can’t look at objects as they once were, as I can no longer hear music through the same prism I once occupied. How dare this come too late into my life? I should have been a searcher earlier in life. But better late than never.
$.99 DREAMS – SPEI RES (LP by Draft Records)
While I knew I left the previous releases of $.99 Dreams with Dolf Mulder, I decided to listen in and see what this LP was about. It seemed to be a move from the earlier, perhaps somewhat naive CDR and download releases, and maybe it was good to check what they are up to now. I somehow associated this with jazz music, and maybe to a certain extent it actually is jazz based, the duo of Adam Diller (synth, sax, production) and Matt Crane (drums), might as easily be called electronic music with hip hop influences. Maybe even Silver Apples less any vocals, or Suicide with real drums, maybe Sogar & Swing (from the Hapna label, if you remember them) – but perhaps I was thinking ‘duos’ here. The jazz element didn’t seem very present here but it had a very nice, rough presence this music, with occasionally just stomping around and occasionally they play a great melody, such as in ‘Fiducia’ or the arpeggios in ‘Lacus Exitium’. I really enjoyed their very upfront sound, almost like a live recording, with a big fat bass synth sound and a highly unprocessed drum kit, ornamented by other less crude, spacy synth sounds. This LP clocks in at thirty-two minutes and has eleven relatively short pieces, some of which seems even sketch like, but those add to the flavour of this record. In a way this sounded all very retro, very 80s like, and with the cover being a black & white silkscreened affair, I am totally sold. Great band with a great release. (FdW)