Sunday, June 23, 2013

Substrata 1.3: Sound & Media Festival: Jul 18 - 21

For the third year in a row, Seattle plays host to this literally exceptional, now expanded four day mini-festival (three nights of performances, an afternoon lecture with composer Christina Vantzou on “Exploratory Conducting Methods and Graphic Notation” and fourth day "Subtle Listening" field recording workshop and hike conducted by composer and programmer, Kim Cascone) of precisely curated sounds by Rafael Anton Irisarri. Sounds spanning from the 'heavy' end (being the Sub in question) of the ambient, neoclassical, immersive, psychedelic and all things avant-garde, in the intimate setting of the Chapel Performance Space with a explicit audience in attendance (no loud rock bar, and hangers-on here) and a dedicated sound engineer. Exactly as a festival of these sounds, with the corresponding audience and venue should be curated, hosted and assembled. Substrata also bringing together in their annual catalog associated aesthetics, visual art, theory and photography. Check that lineup: Jacaszek - Grouper - Christina Vantzou - Kim Cascone - Noveller - Yagya - Ethernet - The Sight Below - Ken Camden - Sean Curley - Anticipating this year's festival will be equally memorable as the last!

From the Substrata site: "Substrata 1.3 is the 3rd edition of Seattle’s intimate sound & visual art weekend happening July 18 – 21, 2013. At its nucleus: an all-ages live performance program, workshop, and field recording trip within the beautiful Cascade region of the Pacific Northwest. The idea behind Substrata is to explore varying perspectives of scale though the use of sound, composition and visuals. It features three live performance showcases featuring accomplished and internationally renowned artists working within the cutting edge where structural abstraction meets physical dynamics. The performance program focuses on live electronic music: applying technology to a concert setting while incorporating traditional and non-traditional instruments. The workshop explores dilemmas within the sound arts community; the field trip engages participants and performing artists in deep listening exercises and mobile recording on site. Our goal is to create an immersive weekend experience that engages the audience in a dialog with the artists that goes beyond the constrains of traditional performer/listener interactions. Each showcase is curated to distinctly portrait different takes of the potency of minimalism, varying between weighty combinations of tonalities used to sculpt out atmospheric ambiance, or powerful dynamic structures made up of the subtlest filigree of sonic building materials. By creating compositional spaces dealing with a sense of mass, along with openness of structure, the perspective of scale and the listener’s place in relation is shifted to allow for greater a sense of place beyond the environ of the performance in the interplay of the moment and physics of the larger world. In all, Substrata is an event that fosters appreciation for our natural surroundings and creates meaningful interaction between artists/participants while exploring a new locality. As the name substrata implies, it is about subtle aesthetics that go beneath the surface and into deeper aural territories."

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Peter Strickland's 'new' film "Berberian Sound Studio" at NWFF: July 5 - 11

It's been a good year since the release of  Peter Strickland's "Berberian Sound Studio", but here we finally are with it getting a week long run at Northwest Film Forum come July! Strickland previously delivering one of the more curious new director offerings in SIFF 2010, that of his psychologically disturbed thriller "Katalin Varga". The director being no novice when it comes to soundwork and the more avant-leanings of Modernism's past, he sought out Nurse With Wound's Steven Stapleton for the soundtrack and engineering on the film and in the time since spent the last half-decade immersed in mid-Century improv, noise and modern composition. As explored in Sam Davies' excellent review in the pages of Sight & Sound, this making for a perfect primer of sorts for his homage to 70's Italian Horror and Giallo of the defining directors of the genre(s) Argento, Fulci, Crispino and Avati. Davies stating: "not since "The Conversation", has there been a film quite so centered on the psychology/pathology of the aural as in "Berberian Sound Studio" with a cover feature on Strickland in that month's issue, his passion for the above-mentioned eras in cinema and sonic adventuring thoroughly plumbed. The fruits of which are graphically evident in his new film which listens as a best-of of sorts of current British explorers in the 'Hauntological Pop' hinterlands. James Cargill of Broadcast supplying the soundtrack, with Julian House from the Ghost Box label creating the title sequence for the fictional film-within-the-film, brilliantly titled "The Equestrian Vortex".

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cut Hands and Black Rain North American Tour: May 30 - June 10

Beginning at New York's Public Assembly, swinging through the west coast, hitting Seattle's Chop Suey (and this is where I'm going to take a moment to give thanks that this show is not booked at the Black Lodge) and arriving at Montreal's incomparable Suoni Per il Popolo festival in less than two weeks, blink and you'll miss this rare opportunity. William Bennett's previous appearance in town as Cut Hands in Decibel Festival's Modern Love Showcase significantly exceeded what I expected of his live incarnation. Yes, this is William Bennett of Whitehouse we're talking about. Bennett who happens to have one of, (if not the), largest private collection of traditional African instruments in the UK... and since it's a 55(?) year old British gent who's been unrelenting about his aesthetics/approach to sound/physicality since the early 1980's, I certainly didn't expect him to stop now. What we were witness to in last year's Modern Love showcase was a deluge of brutal African rhythms and extreme frequency f*ckery, a evolutionary/mutagenic leap of the Whitehouse sound/agenda for sure. Expecting more of the same this time around! Especially that his set is proceeded by fellow Blackest Ever Black recording artist, Black Rain. Blackest Ever Black having become, in the course of just a few short years, one of the premier labels releasing all things darkly cinematic, electronic, issuing tech apocrypha of the cyber-occult. The outstanding album-of-the-year list making "Quarter Turns Over A Living Line" by Raime and Vatican Shadow's refashioning of the techno engine both being prime examples, further plumbing of the depths to be heard on the label compilation, "After The Affair". A night not to be missed by noiseniks, doom addicts and all lovers of corporeal, physical, 21st Century avant-sound!