Saturday, September 30, 2017

New York City as Surrogate: Tracking America's Hyper-Gentrification One City at a Time


A contemporary syndrome not limited to examples like those found in San Francisco, Austin, and Seattle, where we've seen the upscale homogenization of what were once economically diverse, cultured, urban centers at the hands of the tech industry. Reading spanning a decade on this stratification of the American urban space, the corresponding accelerated retail marked and all the consequences therein, can be found in the pages of The New Yorker's "California Screaming", Bloomberg's "How Big Tech Swallowed Seattle: Two Tech Titans Made Billions and Remade the City. Is it Any Better Off?", NPR's "The Struggles Of Austin's Music Scene Mirror A Widened World", and The New York Times', "Dystopia & Backlash by the Bay: Tech Riches Alter a City". But it should be stressed that these effects and their source aren't just limited to the impact of the tech industry and its influence on the acceleration (and polarization) of the American city's communal and economic continuity. In a more expansive and broad sense, the 2008 recession created conditions which opened the way for the racially, culturally, and economically diverse urban centers of America's major cities to be replaced by upscale boutiques, luxury condo towers, and national chains. In the following decade these factors have largely remade modern urban life into a model of suburbanized luxury zone, with a price tag select few can afford. Mapping a single example of the accelerated "hyper-gentrification" of a city's often longstanding cultural and communal identity, Jeremiah Moss' "Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul", finds in NYC a graphic surrogate for many of the nation's other accelerated urban shifts.

Interviewed for the Village Voice in 2017, which “The Village Voice’s Magic Mirror“, is itself to come to a conclusion as one of New York's most influential and longstanding cultural institutions, "Jeremiah Moss Mourns the Loss of New York’s Soul". Ginia Bellafante's review framing Moss' work within the larger context of the city's two concurrent, humanitarian and cultural crises, "Tracking the Hyper-Gentrification of New York, One Lost Knish Place at a Time". As detailed in the below excerpt from The New York Times: "Bemoaning the changes that have plagued New York in recent years - the proliferation of $20 million apartments, the banks now on every corner visualizing the centrality of money to the city’s consciousness, the substitution of culinary virtue for a broader civic morality - has been an avocation for many people living in and around Manhattan for well over a decade. If you came of age in the city at any time from the earliest days of the Velvet Underground to the peak years of the Strokes, the conversion can feel acutely personal because the city that defined you belongs to history, and the one that has replaced it belongs to those on the winning side of its Darwinian economics - financiers who do what you don’t understand and real-estate businesses that build and displace with an impunity that remains all too clarifying."

"The 21st century has delivered two related crises, running concurrently: a humanitarian one, as Michael Greenberg, writing in The New York Review of Books recently described the housing emergencies that have left more than 60,000 homeless in New York and tens of thousands of others on the edge of vagrancy; and a cultural unraveling that has devalued, if not hostilely rejected, the significance of workers, bohemians and eccentrics (the struggling ones) to the city’s operating system. It is the second of these profound rearrangements that compels Jeremiah Moss, the pseudonym for a writer and psychoanalyst named Griffin Hansbury, "An Activist for New York’s Mom-and-Pop Shops", who has applied his formidable skill for vivisection to the various troubling outcomes. Ten years ago, he started a blog called Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York that sought to record and investigate the closing of nearly every bar, luncheonette, florist, gas station, strip joint, bakery, knish place and so on that in the individual instance, and dramatically so in the amalgam, represents the razing of a foundational authenticity - the flattening of what, for so long, represented the city’s character."

"In the comparatively quaint days of the 1980s and ’90s, gentrification referred to the ways in which neighborhoods changed at the hands of largely well-meaning renovators who slowly remade their brownstones. Today we have “hyper-gentrification,” something far more insidious, and this is what concerns Moss most - the complicity between municipal government and big private money to reconfigure whole sections of a city, with dubious consequences, chief among them the ceding of space, goods and social currency from the ordinary classes to the ruling order. The phenomenon is best exemplified in the upending of the far West Side of Manhattan from Midtown on down, which Moss chronicles in rich, methodical detail. Twelve years ago, with the support of those who backed the High Line, the elevated rail track turned into a glistening public park (and a model for abandoned industrial land around the country), the city allowed property owners along the route to sell air rights. Those developers who paid for certain amenities to the park could build their towers even higher. Small businesses disappeared; ultraluxury condominiums followed, in some cases directly adjacent to public housing complexes whose residents lost many of the stores that serviced them. But the city’s mission was accomplished: a corridor to Hudson Yards, an entirely manufactured, high-end science-fiction neighborhood just north and under construction - “the cold artificial heart of new New York,” as he calls it" - was established." Photo credit: David George Brommer

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's new album "The Kid" & US Tour: Oct 11 - Nov 4
| Akio Suzuki and Aki Onda at Chapel Performance Space: Oct 19


Akio Suzuki and Aki Onda return to the Chapel Performance Space after their cancelled 2015 date on the "Ke i te Ki" tour, extended Issue Project Room residency and touring Voices & Echoes festival of 2013. Though of two different generations they share a deep interest in the documenting of sonic environments and the exploration of site-specific happenings. As an early sound-art pioneer in the 1960's, Akio Suzuki on recordings like "Na-Gi" has documented his investigations into the sonic character of select locations and generating responses engaging with their acoustic topography. His ongoing work in field recordings and acoustic observation continues into the present day with the soundwalk project, "Oto-date" translating as "sound-point" in Japanese, in drawing a course through the urban scape, Suzuki defines listening locations in the city and invites audiences to stop and observe carefully at given points on the map. Having created numerous soundwalks at various festival, public garden and gallery settings across the world including the UK's cutting-edge AV Festival, 2015's Borderline Festival in Greece and the School of Creative Media, Hong Kong. It's in these site-specific works that his sonic explorations overlap most-explicitly with that of electronic composer and visual artist Aki Onda. The decades-spanning "Cassette Memories" project and ongoing multiple volume series compiled from a “sound diary” of field-recordings and travels collected and assembled in live performance by Onda in both indoor and outdoor locations across the world. His extensive touring of the project, building it's body of sonic materials and locations as a essayist work in-action was documented last year by Michael Snow in the pages of Bomb Magazine.

It's been a notable year for electronic composer and Berklee School of Music graduate, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. Following the gloriously nuanced night of experimental modular synthesizer work at Kremwerk this past summer, wherein she delved further into the territory mapped out in her critically hailed "Ears", she returns for a second tour at Barboza on the heels of "The Kid". In the course of the last year, Smith's meeting of pop songwriting and explorative analog synthesis were heard in such prestigious settings as David Lynch's Festival of Disruption, the 2016 edition of Moogfest, NTS Live and The Broad's Nonobject(ive): Summer Happenings series in Los Angeles. Working outside of more traditional album and live performance settings, Smith was also selected to soundtrack the “Explore The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” video series, commissioned by google in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Her performances of this year have revealed a unexpected polarity. On one end, a newfound penchant for songwriting bearing no small relation to the feminine synthpop's great progenitor, Kate Bush. On the other, pure analog synthesis exploration and sound painting as heard on her collaborative volume, "Sunergy" in the RVNG labe's FRKWYS series. The meeting sees Smith in a setting alongside one of the most notable women in early modular synth exploration, the duo "Making Sounds with Suzanne Ciani, America's First Female Synth Hero". Talking on Don Buchla and his inventions, the San Francisco Tape Music Center and his Memorial Concerts of this past year, Ciani and Smith share not only their memories of the man but also how creations guided their lives, "His Instrument Gave Me Wings: Remembering Synth Inventor Don Buchla".

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hans-Joachim Roedelius at Chapel Performance Space & US Tour: Sept 25 - Oct 31


This month Wayward Music Series and Patchwerks host one of the most notable figures to originate from the explosion of Krautrock's propulsive minimalism of the late 1970s, a wave of experimentalism that birthed Can, Neu!, Amon Düül II, and Ash Ra Tempel. The latter half of the decade also saw a concurrent generation of German electric invention in minimal and synthesizer explorations from the likes of Popol Vuh, Asmus Tietchens, Conrad Schnitzler, Harald Grosskopf, Harmonia and members of Cluster working both in and out of solo modes. Both of these facets of the burgeoning German experimental music scene detailed by Jon Savage, in the pages of The Guardian's, "Elektronische Musik: A Guide to Krautrock". For converts of the sound, original editions and even official reissues have been scant going on decades, but recent overviews like Soul Jazz' "Deutsche Elektronische Musik" and Light in the Attic's recent foray into shared territory with, "The Microcosm: Visionary Music of Continental Europe" have brought new attention to their explorations. Further timely unearthing of these Kosmische explorer's work, the early works of Asmus Tietchens have seen a handsome series of reissues from Bureau B, and Harmonium received a lavish box set repress of their central albums on Grönland Records, the first official release of it's kind in decades. Likewise, this past year also saw the official reissue of a lavish assembly of music by the trio of Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Dieter Moebius, and Conrad Schnitzler as the Cluster 1971 - 1981 box set. In an interview for for Perfect Sound Forever Roedelius chronicled the intersection of this most notable outfit within the Krautrock and Kosmnische scenes as an outcome of his and Schnitzler's founding of the Zodiak Free Arts Club. The venue acting as a attractor and confluence of the existing minimalist strain of psychedelic rock, performance art and theater and what Roedelius calls "free jazz meets electronics". A regular of the venue, Dieter Moebius became the third element in their improvised music theater trio, then named Kluster.

As a follower of Joseph Beuys and the Fluxus movement, Schnitzler found other like-minded galleries and museums receptive to hosting their explorations in sound and performance. Thus began what what Roedelius refers to as Kluster's "somewhat endless European tour of improvised shows" in 1970. Though Schnitzler came to depart from the trio, his contacts within the music world brought Moebius and Roedelius into the influential sphere of producer Conny Plank. This fortuitous meeting would be a catalyst in further cementing the disparate aspects of the existing Krautrock and Kosmische sounds into shared culture, producing notable cross-pollinations like that of Harmonia. Intersecting in the space between the repetitive motoric vocabulary of Michael Rother's work in Neu! with Moebius and Roedelius' freeform synthesizer explorations, Harmonia could be considered the genre's sole supergroup of a style. Documented in Alex Abramovich's "The Invention of Ambient Music" for the New Yorker, their open-ended freeform performances in gallery and theater spaces following the release of 1975's "Deluxe", attracted the attention of British producer extraordinaire Brian Eno. The shared solidarity in musical exploration and synthesis would culminate in September 1976 in an 11 day stayover in Forst Germany where Eno lived and recorded with Harmonia, producing the material that would become "Tracks and Traces". Bridging of the German Elektronische and Krautrock scenes with the then developing sounds heard further west in Great Britain, this work would proceed Eno's influential production in the pop world on his trio of albums for David Bowie. The meeting also acting a catalyst toward his own collaborations with Moebius and Roedelius; Eno's now canonical "Music for Films" and first volume in the ambient series, "Music for Airports" followed directly on the heels of the collaborations spawned by this meeting of "Cluster & Eno" and their second album, "After the Heat". A accelerated period of productivity for the British producer, the quartet of epoch defining ambient albums in this chapter of "The Discreet Music of Brian Eno" culminating in 1982's "On Land". What the ambient series shares with his German contemporaries Eno himself would describe in the pages of Sound on Sound magazine as, "A Fervent Nostalgia for the Future".