Sunday, April 21, 2013

Red Bull Music Academy hosts "Drone Activity" showcase, Ryuichi Sakamoto
with Alva Noto & Pantha Du Prince at Knockdown Center, West Park Church
& Metropolitan Museum of Art New York: May 2 & 28 - 29

Red Bull Music Academy's programming has always been surprising. Especially in it's intersection with new media and technology bringing cutting edge electronic works to the stage, theater and installation space. This May sees New York get not one, but two significant series on the more experimental periphery, coinciding with this year's 'Academy' taking place in that city of cities. The first being one of the most audacious assemblies of it's kind this decade, Drone Activity showcasing an international roster so encompassing as to be a global who's-who of Noise, Ambient, Doom, Drone and sonic Dissonance. One Night. Sixteen Acts. 8PM until 4AM at the massive, industrial, gorgeous, converted glass factory that is Queens' Knockdown Center. From Red Bull Music Academy: "For one night we will turn the spectacular Knockdown Center in Queens into a temple of thundering noise with some of today’s most daring sound artists. The night will see performances from sixteen solo artists and duos on three stages, where the sound bleed between stages is entirely intentional. Performers at this noise, drone and experimental techno festival-within-a-festival include Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))), who will be performing solo and with his duo project KTL alongside Peter Rehberg, owner of Editions Mego Records, Sonic Youth founding member Kim Gordon  presenting her collaborative project with Bill Nace, Body/Head influential noise artist and Hospital Productions founder Dominick Fernow, performing both with his conceptual noise project Prurient and under his doom-techno moniker Vatican Shadow, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, the frontman and “dogma director” of transcendental black metal band Liturgy, Australian composer and multi-instrumentalist Oren Ambarchi, NYC-based guitarist and composer Alan Licht, Yellow Swans' analog techno noisemaker Pete Swanson, Sacred Bones recording artist Margaret Chardiet aka Pharmakon, Oneida and Man Forever drummer Kid Millions performing with Borbetomagus saxophonist Jim Sauter; virtuoso guitarist Mick Barr of Ocrillim and Krallice, Kris Lapke’s power violence/black metal solo project Alberich, composer Sarah Lipstate’s solo electric guitar project Noveller, Arto Lindsay collaborator and 2013 Academy participant Grassmass from Brazil and Mexican beat experimentalist Hiram Martinez. Visuals come courtesy of the creative minds behind Nuit Blanche so expect a multi-sensory experience o' sorts."

As if the not-of-this-earth Drone Activity showcase wasn't enough, the latter end of the month sees the Kunst als Klang series featuring a night of Ryuchi Sakamoto's sublime piano explorations alongside Raster-Noton label founder, Carsten Nicolai's austere digital constructions as Alva Noto. The two taking part in Red Bull Music Academy's Fireside Chat session on the meeting of their two aesthetics earlier this year. This tour coinciding with Sakamoto's performance at the Nam June Paik Retrospective at the Smithsonian American Art Museum where sound artist and Paik aficionado Steven Vitiello hosted an intimate discussion with Ryuichi on the subjects of Fluxus, Bad Brains, Joseph Beuys, John Cage and Paik as teen idol to Asian artists (ha) in the 1960's. The second event in the series being no less canorous and bold in it's construction, Hendrik Weber's Pantha Du Prince, who's "Elements of Light" project comprises a symphony for electronics, percussion, hundreds of individual bells and and a Bell Carillon a single three-ton instrument comprising 50 bronze bells. As the Rough Trade label describes, influenced by some of the very same 20th Century progenitors of Modernism and Minimalism referenced in the Sakamoto interview above: "The album is a single continuous work in five tracks named for elements of light: “Wave,” “Particle,” Photon,” “Spectral Split” and “Quantum.” Sonically, the work is a fusion of electronic music and classical composition, and draws on house and minimalism, jazz and new music, gamelan and western sacred music. Influences include John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Steve Reich, LaMonte Young and Moondog." Best witnessed in action, the "Spectral Split" video and trailer for the album depicts the scope of this ambitious, sublime orchestra of resonance. From Red Bull Music Academy: "Pantha Du Prince is the moniker of Hendrik Weber a charming lad from the middle of nowhere, Germany, who grew up on a well-balanced diet of British indie rock, techno kick drums, and adventurous electronica straight from the house that Autechre built. He eventually ended up co-founding Dial Records, a label that has fostered its very own philosophical and romantic view on electronic dance (and non-dance) music over the past 14 years. After releasing an album of fragile techno folklore via Rough Trade Records in 2010, he teamed up with Norwegian composer and conductor Lars Petter Hagen to explore the unknown versatility of the bell as a musical instrument, and finally release the post-minimalist “Elements Of Light” earlier this spring. Witness one of the year’s most talked-about shows in the venerable surroundings of Manhattan’s West Park Church, featuring a six-piece band on live electronics – and hundreds of bells."