Cville Experimental Music Showcase pt II at The Bridge tonight!

March 19th, 2010 · 9 Comments · By

Remember that amazing Experimental Music Showcase of local bands that Jacob put together at The Bridge a few months ago? Well, it’s happening again tonight! It’s going to be the same deal as last time, Ten acts in three hours, with an absolute minimum of change-over time between bands (i.e., near-instantaneous wish-gratification for more awesome music!)

It will start at The Bridge tonight at exactly at 8:00pm and with any luck will end precisely at 11:00… so that’s another situation where you definitely want to be on time! Furthermore, we’re keeping the schedule and set order an absolute secret until tonight, to encourage you to come and drink up a healthy survey of worthwhile music, rather than just trying to pop in for your one friend’s band or whatever. These are all interesting acts, all worth seeing, and the whole idea of a buffet-style sampler of different styles is a big part of what makes the whole thing so fun.

I’ll run down a little info on each of the acts tonight, and to maintain the setlist secrecy I’ll just use the order that’s on the poster:

Grapefruit Experiment is the new-er project of Wendy and Carey from Pinko Communoids and Dzian!; last time they played two contact-mic’ed bicycles, with a friend accompanying them on amplified cactus! This time they’ll be collaborating with Richmond-based noise artist Caustic Castle, who does prickly, harsh-yet-austere digital textures.

 Mss. is the current band of two of Charlottesville’s underground elder-statesmen, Tyler Magill and Josh Krahn.  Tyler plays organ and sings, Josh plays guitar over pre-programmed beats, and they sound really smart and lovely. Definitely one of the calmer projects from these two, but no less excellent. I once heard them play a Lungfish cover at a wedding. (Josh also designed the sweet poster for tonight’s show!)

Myceum is the solo keyboard-drone project of Scott Ritchie, former member of Cloeburner, drummer for the Raquellos, and sometime substitute in Great Dads. His stuff is the best kind of drone music, seemingly simple but also really dense and inviting and texturally deep and exciting. His set at the last showcase was one of the best I’ve ever heard him play.

Ultra Aesthetics Committee is the new name of the old project by Chris Balint and John Bowman, ex-housemates of mine who are really into all manner of experimental video and keyboard madness, including a whole lot of circuit-bending, large-scale improvisational jams, and some truly weird neon flavored post-acid good times vibes. You may have seen them under the names Mondo or Nectar Bats, or organizing the Armageddon Community Roundtable.

Great Dads is one of Adam Smith’s many side-projects; this one is a duo with ex-Truman Sparks guitarist Jeff Simmons,  in which they play a mess of synthesizers, drum machines, and a medium-sized pile of pedals through a small mountain of reverb and loopage, with appropriately unintelligably wasted echo-laden lyrics overtop. They sound a lot like Suicide or Cluster with a healthy dose of contemporary-underground-noise-act attitude for added excellence.

Rhythm Bandit is the project of Cville Wunderkind Dylan Mulshine, an inspiringly precocious kid whose been tearing shit up as a live act recently, with his inventive, energetic combination of drum pads, heavy keyboard washes, loop pedals, a live microphone, and a single snare drum. It’s leaning pretty heavily for Fuck Buttons territory, but with a heavier / looser live-improv messiness which actually reminds me a fair amount of the sort of post-punk electronic experimentation that eventually became Industrial music (Throbbing Gristle etc).

I don’t know much (or anything, really) about Living Things or Tatsuya Nakatani, I believe they’re both acts who have been brought into the mix by the folks at HzCollective; I’m sure they’re similarly excellent to the folks I’ve discussed above, and I’m excited to learn more about each of them.

As if that weren’t enough, there will also be a short film by Charlottesville musician and composer Jonathan Zorn, as well as a slew of live video craziness from Ultra Aesthetics’ Chris Balint and two more folks from Richmond! I’m seriously excited about this event (even more than I am excited about jumping in a swimming hole this afternoon, if you can believe that)! It’s definitely not something to miss. The cover charge is a mere $5 suggested donation (which is less than 50¢ per act), and you should show up at 7:30. No, really, you should show up at 7:30.

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9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 James // Mar 19, 2010 at 11:08 am

    If for some reason you are in Richmond tonight instead of Charlottesville, there’s actually a really cool Film Festival going on: the 17th Annual James River Film Festival starts tonight; they’re showing the Jem Cohen’s Fugazi documentary “Instrument,” the Watson & Webber 1920’s version of “Fall of the House of Usher,” and something to do with Méliès, as well as a bunch of other cool things over the next few days. I wish I had known about it sooner than this morning; but, folks — I am not exaggerating when I say that I know NOTHING about what goes on in Richmond.

    Anyway, their schedule is online here:

    I might try to make it to see “Benjamin Smoke” or “the Lady from Shanghai” on Sunday (although I’m definitely gonna miss “Hidden Fortress”) — but if you happen to find yourself in Richmond, this is definitely worth checking out.

  • 2 James // Mar 19, 2010 at 11:15 am

    just wanna add that, in all seriousness, the last Cville Experimental showcase was one of the best shows I saw last year. It was really awesome to see a good crowd being really receptive and positive to a lot of music that is easy to dismiss or overlook (i.e. things other than rock bands who are blog darlings). it really is a thing that’s definitely worth checking out.

  • 3 coogan // Mar 19, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I second James’s endorsement above of the previous showcase. It’s really exciting to see artists like those performing tonight banding together and supporting each other. And maybe if we get bold enough, we can drop the ‘experimental music’ tag and just call it noise.

    I’m excited to see Ultra Aesthetics Committee’s performance, specifically the absolutely ape-shit amazing video rig Chris Balint has put together. Also pumped to see Dylan again. The stuff I’ve seen has been belovedly arhythmic, grimy and noisy. Mid-sixties Reich impregnates a mid-nineties Cuomo.

  • 4 Christ T. // Mar 19, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    OoOoO! Definitely gonna show up. Lookin forward to all the bands. Actually kinda/vaguely know one of the dudes in Caustic Castle from a current community based research project, so this night is that much more fascinating.

  • 5 Andy // Mar 19, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Love to check ptII of this out, but I’m stuck behind the console at The Southern with the Fruit Bats, Blue Giant, and the Singleman Affair.

    That’s only partly a shameless plug for a great show going on elsewhere in town ; -)

    James – I did some work for Plexifilms ages ago and have DVDs of a lot of their stuff including Benjamin Smoke – let me know if you want to borrow it. It’s definitely worth checking out!

  • 6 James // Mar 20, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    gosh, where to begin?
    I spent the afternoon on a short hike and an epic jump into a very, very cold swimming hole; returned to Belmont shoeless in my soggy clothes to find setup already underway. Made sure everyone had everything they needed, ran home to shower & dress.

    despite roughly the same # of musicians, there was much more gear than last time (in part due to the added presence of three video artists), and a larger turnout meant a more crowded (constantly shifting) audience area, but somehow it all worked out…

    Mss. played first, tucked back into the far corner of the space; Chris’ three-screen wide video projections actually made a perfect backdrop of candy orange, while Tyler and Josh got everyone in the mood with a short, sweet and obtuse set. their material is really growing on me; they closed with a newer cover, & Tyler telling the extremely convoluted history of his 15-year search for a copy of this song, steeped in old-school cville lore.

    Great Dads were up next; their set seemed thicker, denser, and more chaotic than before, although to be fair I only heard the very beginning &end of it (had to make an emergency 10min dash over to work, for what turned out to be a false alarm).

    Two video artists from Richmond (I think), Jennida and Hassan, were running projection throughout the early half of the show; I was watching the door for a lot of this part and didn’t catch at much of their stuff as I would have liked, but they seemed like good folks and it’d be cool to have them back.

    Grapefruit Experiment, aka Carey & Wendy’s post-Pinkos project, played next; Carey on drums, Wendy on guitar, and Kyle from Caustic Castle accompanying on harsh digital squeaks and chirps. the Castle material can often be really distinct and harsh, but once they got going it fit in perfectly with Carey’s solid, unobtrusive drumming; eventually Wendy let loose with a Rawking guitar hurricane worthy of Keiji Haino. for their second set they were joined by Eric De Luca on laptop, though I had to run some behind-the-scenes coordination & largely missed that part.

    Living Things were one of this Showcase’s honorary out-of-state acts; three dudes from NYC via Albany, with one of the most amusingly over-the-top setups I’ve seen in recent memory; weird muppetesque puppets made out of every kind of musical instrument (i.e., half a drum pedal with googly eyes, a cymbal in a fur coat, etc) — I’m told this was the “condensed” version of their setup (they were towing what looked like a small boat behind their tour wagon). they started off with a partly-coherent puppet show involving circuit-bent stuffed sharks, and drew the full attention of the pin-drop-silent crowd; eventually they erupted into an energetic, yelping medley of songs that sounded a lot like the Dodos doing a monkey-chant with a tuba player instead of a drummer. Highly, highly amusing, and somehow it fit into the evening’s lineup perfectly; they closed with a number that invovled one band member strapping a banjo to his face.

    after a brief switching-around of cables, Jonathan Zorn’s short video was up next; 6 or 7min of straightfaced whimsy involving a medley of clumsily photoshopped birds blurping and hooting. the crowd was super-attentive for this one, too (I think Living Things had put them in exactly the right mood), and Jonathan reported that it received a much warmer reception than the stuffy academic setting in which it was first premiered.

    Scott’s Myceum project was once again some of the coolest drone material around; his set sounds like it’s really developing well (this time around it sounded like there was a lot of more white noise / wind-hiss than before), as well as a lot of gently warbling sine tones and arpeggiated bloops… always nice to hear Scott play again, and it helped redirect the evening’s aesthetic focus back towards the austere end of the spectrum (somehow these 9 acts ended up playing in EXACTLY the perfect order; always impressive when something like that works out).

    Tatsuya Nakatani may have been the highlight in an evening full of highlights. Every single act last night was excellent, but Tatsuya’s set was thoroughly mind-blowing. He started out by bowing a gong, making a really intense resonating sound, while generating some quiet thunder with the kickdrum (it sounded a lot like Z’ev, actually, except thankfully Tatsuya was a really nice guy and not a complete asshole). He soon moved on to a series of bowls that were bowed and left to sit on the tom & snare, resonating and chiming into each other; then he brought out the cymbals. I didn’t even KNOW you could make that kind of sound by scraping a cymbal across a snare drum, but Tatsuya is clearly a master at that kind of thing; at one point he was blowing through a small cymbal like a trumpet mouthpiece while pressing it against the face of the drum; moments later he had the cymbal bent almost in half while he bowed it against the metal rims. Not only did it sound great; but every third or fourth trick he did was a thing I didn’t even know was possible. It was the perfect balance of messy chaos (many percussive instruments were haphazardly thrown around) and precise musicianship (this guy has some SERIOUS chops)… pretty fucking amazing.

    Ultra Aesthetics were up next; Chris set up a multi-layered feedback /re-scan system with a video camera, three projectors, and two or three circuit-bent colorizers and vintage 80’s analog signal modifiers, while John got things cooking with some DSP on the laptop — I’d only seen these guys do hands-on keyboard manipulation in the past, so the laptop was a nice touch. Once the video was all set-up, Chris got my attention, pointed to one of the hacked knobs on the colorizer, and said “just keep moving this,” before jumping out front to make some jittery mayhem on some circuit-bent keyboards and (I think) a sampler. Thankfully I was familiar enough with Chris’s setup to try to get keep something interesting going on with the video, while they played one of the more coherent & solid sets I’ve seen from them.

    Rhythm Bandit played last, dragging his single-table setup into the center of the room; by this time enough of the previous acts had packed up some of their gear, so that we could get a nice circle of folks in the middle. Dylan’s first piece was another one of his single-drum-through delay things; he’s getting better at it, although I’m starting to like his layered keyboard stuff a lot more. His second piece started off more tonally, and following some joke from the crowd Dylan impulsively handed Nick Rubin the drumstick, before dispersing the rest among the crowd and inviting them to join in an impromptu drum circle-through-delay pedal, let by Dylan himself on a drum machine. Then the biggest surprise of his set; the debut of a child’s Barbie-themed guitar toy, which Dylan strapped on and proceeded to totally ROCK OUT on, triggering an insane array of chirpy and overly-distorted samples; it was pretty fucking cool. There was also a great degree of teenage-style Cobain-esque knocking-shit-over mayhem, which in some contexts can be super-annoying, but in these case was effective and well-earned. The set went on a little long, but justified it’s last third through an inventive chiming outro.

    All in all it was a tremendously satisying Friday, probably the most fun I’ve had all year. I’m really, really excited to do this again soon. (Summer party!)

  • 7 James // Mar 20, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Andy- shameless indeed!
    Thanks for the offer, although actually I already own that DVD; just disappointed to miss the chance to see Jem speak again & catch up with some of his other work; anyone who’s in Richmond tonight should definitely check him out, though. I saw Mr Cohen show his stuff perhaps a half-dozen times back when I was in film school; he was pretty inspirational and great.

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