I’ll be performing under my rare solo moniker, Brilligh, in what is turning out to be a good ol’ fashioned femmed-out noise-fest. Viva la Vulva!! Viva Le Cunt Cabal!!
Bloody Wednesday is a night to invoke the symbolic, etheric, and physical manifestations of menstruation and the process and pain involved with shedding projected futures, past identities, and unknowable potentials. Highlighting performers who express work that contains abstract wisdom, chaotic form, and other non-linear qualities that patriarchal society has long associated with Feminine evils, on each new moon which falls on a wednesday we climb back into the womb and release our collective fear of the dark.
OKA Amnesia (Chi)
Ray Sherman & CTO
White Boy Scream (LA)
MAN (Monika Khot, Amelia Love Clearheart and Natasha El-Sergany)
Taking a too-close look at local noise/performance act LIMITS
LIMITS, the boundary-crossing multi-disciplinary duo of dancer Corrie Befort and musician Jason E. Anderson, is comfortable on the outlands of performance art. The two recently took part in the Yellow Fish Epic Durational Performance Festival hosted at Seattle University’s Hedreen Gallery. Their performance lasted over four hours. “[It] felt like nothing, actually,” says Befort. “There’s something about being active in that kind of way that makes time fly by.”
In a piece entitled Dream Cargo, Three Nights of Alternative Listening in the Cisco Morris Biodiversity Garden, the two physically nestled themselves among the garden’s plants and structures. “The garden and architecture of the space became characters, and the overall setup allowed for an interesting audience/performer dynamic,” Befort explains. “Performing amongst strictly musical acts, an unfamiliar audience isn’t expecting a dancer/performer to emerge. It can be fairly unsettling, that blurring of the line between ‘stage’ and audience area/comfort zone.”
Part of LIMITS is strictly musical—Anderson uses intense drone and power electronics in the show, and has a long history in the noise scene. But combined with Befort’s modern interpretive dance, the two create something that transcends disciplinary boundaries—performances that explore time, perception, and memory.
Utilizing what Befort describes as “disruptions that specifically address the venue’s space and how it is being used within other artists’ sets in the evening,” the two hope to foster an environment that is confrontationally intimate, forcing the audience “to pretty dramatically recalibrate and reconsider how they are paying attention to what they see and hear simultaneously.”
“Our sets feel like suddenly finding yourself inside a shoot for a film that’s well along already in its storyline,” Anderson says. “I think that’s due to how we invent scenarios and present them with full commitment, as if they’ve already been in progress for a while. In live work, we feel this dynamic encourages a kind of audience interaction and deduction that is lively, expansive, and quite personal.”
Evolving from a background of experimentation with field recordings and improvisation, Anderson found himself wanting “a new project that could move beyond creating experiences solely based in abstract sound—that would add in textual elements and conceptual approaches.” Growing out from her background in dance, filmmaking, and movement-inspired design, Befort found an easy partner in Anderson.
Mutually, the two began working to engender a tense, unsettling mood, with insistent, pulsating noisescapes, recurrent movements, harsh and monotonous lighting, and uncomfortably close proximity to their audiences. LIMITS’ active manipulation of the space between audience and performer, and its liberal repetition of both sound and movement, make its performances feel like anxiety-riddled clockwork: the constant swing of an arm, an oscillating audio loop, a persistent step backwards. The audience’s memory corrodes and warps these gestures as they replay in our mind’s eye.
“We find it’s like trying to describe dreams,” says Befort. “We’re improvising upon a distinct yet disintegrating structure.”
Eschewing overtly autobiographical work, LIMITS hopes its noise/dance performances might spark discussion of the alienating tautology of modern life—the drilling repetition of cycling traffic lights, bus schedules, and time clocks. “Initially [we] perform something that is mostly improvised,” says Anderson. “We then mine and recraft the piece—discovered in part through fortune and accident—and create another ‘iteration’ of the raw work.”
Anderson is also known for his independent record label Gift Tapes. Heavily influential, Gift Tapes has released works from such world-class noise acts like Merzbow, Golden Retriever, and Spare Death Icon, and hosted shows featuring the likes of Expo 70, Pulse Emitter, and Bee Mask. Gift Tapes has been ‘at rest’ for a few years, but Anderson hints, “I produced this [upcoming] show under the GT name as a bit of foreshadowing of what may emerge.”
Gift Tapes/Wayward Music Series With MSHR, Million Mists, LIMITS, & RM Francis. Chapel Performance Space, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N., 547-8127, waywardmusic.org. Suggested donation $5–$15. All ages. 8 p.m. Fri., Aug. 21.
Originally published at Seattle Weekly
Are 3,000 people really going to attend a walking pizza shop tour/guerilla noise festival? Maybe.
It was 4:20 in the afternoon. I laid on my couch in the blazing sunshine, my eyes drifting over a flyer I had been given. On it, a pizza man beckoned me to dance with him. I shook my head. My vision wavered. The room began to fill with light. An orange portal opened in my room. Two priests, or wizards, clothed in shimmering robes, stepped out. With them, God as my witness, was a living, talking, bearded slice of pizza. In his arms he carried their sigil, and a steaming deep-dish pepperoni pie.
I gestured to the couch. The trio settled themselves, conjuring cheap beers and paper towels from thin air, passing me a three-inch-thick slice of pizza from a box marked Windy City Pie.
I waited for them to speak, but their mouths were stuffed. Finally, interrupting their mastication, I asked, “What summons you to this earthly plane, O Greasy Ones?”
The Living Slice, aka “Wild” Bill Foster, stared at me. “The Pizza Crawl.”
Seattle’s transcendent pizza and experimental music crusade, of course!
One of the priests, Dustin Williams, 12-string master and member of the Seattle noise group Stalebirth, gestured to the painting Foster was carrying. Said Williams, “The title of this is, We’re Building God. God is pizza. We’re leading a pilgrimage, and all of the performances [along the way] are stations of worship, and the method of worship… is noise.”
“Yeah, The Stations of the Crust,” mumbled Foster from behind the slice of pizza in his mouth.
“For the Supreme Being,” uttered priest Marcus Price, staring into the sun. “Give us this day our daily pie.”
A beat passed, and the three bust up laughing. I laughed, too, taking another bite of the savory, holy deep-dish pizza.
Seattle’s mythic Pizza Crawl, a walking tour of Capitol Hill’s pizza shops with guerilla noise performances—including Natasha El-Sergany, Zen Mother, and PRISONFOOD—at varying locations in between, has humble beginnings, according to the trio of noise musicians/friends/pizza-worshippers who organize it. Price, local glitch-electronica guru, says it all started in an alleyway over some beers with local cartoonist Max Clotfelter and experimental musician/fan Foster, the Pizza God himself, just a year ago.
“It was after [local noise festival] Debacle Fest last year,” says Foster. “[Price] was telling a story about being super wasted and hitting two places to eat on the way home, and it just spun into ‘Ha-ha, it’d be funny if we just got trashed and hit every pizza spot on the Hill.’ ”
“We weren’t even going to have music at first,” says Price. “It was [Foster’s] idea to have a few acoustic guerrilla sets. That’s where we got more excited about it.”
Last year’s inaugural Pizza Crawl featured performers like Contact Mike, who created dissonant chaotic sounds using contact mics on every surface available in a local park, as well as Slow Drips—the Moog-y audio project of the masterminds behind Coldbrew Collective—casually sitting on their stoop, ribbons of wires streaming out their windows to power their analog equipment.
This year’s Crawl will wind its way through the neighborhood, stopping at six pizza shops with seven musicians scattered throughout. Things will start weird, with a “huge secret guest thing,” and get even weirder as the attendees traverse the Capitol Hill route. Performers have been intentionally placed where sound and vision can combine in unusual ways, with artists tucked into parking garages, alleyways, and courtyards.
As for what you’ll hear during the eight-plus hour event, the music is all over the board. “We’ll have everything from traditional harsh noise to weird glitchy electronica, darkwave and shoegaze to Italo-disco, to stuff that can’t really be described,” Williams says. “It just has to be experienced. We encourage people to come with an open mind, and earplugs.”
Last year’s Crawl was attended by about 40 people, which is why the founding trio of weirdo friends were surprised to find that this year’s Facebook RSVPs to the event miraculously bloomed to over 3,000. If five percent of those people show up that’s 150 people. Williams recalls watching the numbers increase with confusion. “At first it was like, ‘Who are all these strangers?’ ” When asked how all these new faces got turned on to the event, Price offers, “Probably the same way everyone else heard about it: They saw a friend was going, and thought, ‘This is the greatest thing ever!’ ”
The Crawl organizers are hoping to channel these new faces into Seattle’s lively outsider noise scene through all this serendipitous, unexpected attention. With the predicted influx of newbies, and in light of the uptick in violence on Capitol Hill, especially targeted at the LGBTQ community, the promoters emphasize that, “Being respectful to the performers and to the neighborhood, and keeping a positive attitude, are the key to having fun at this all-ages event. We just want everyone to have a good-ass time,” says Foster.
In addition to the main event, a secret after-party will be held the night of Pizza Crawl. Those who attend this bonus round will be rewarded with another six acts and deep-dish pizza from Windy City Pie.
“The after-party is pretty cool because of how eccentric the line up is,” Price says. “It’s kinda batshit.”
“Before (the noise scene) was contained at The Josephine, but now that they’ve taken that away from us, they’re gonna get it in the streets.”
The artists at the after-party are more performance-based, featuring a reunion of the mind-blowing, leather-clad spectacle that is Mr. Tangles and Friends. Coldbrew Collective, the winners of Seattle Weekly’s Best of Seattle reader poll last week in the visual artist category, will be holding down visuals at the party with accompanying installations by Rich Stevens.
“It’s only secret because we couldn’t find a legit venue,” Williams says. “One of the reasons why there are so many more guerrilla shows is because The Josephine is gone.”
The Josephine, a Ballard-based DIY venue and noise-music haven with an incredibly liberal attitude towards hosting artists, was closed earlier this year due to noise complaints.
“Love to other venues,” reminisces Foster, “but the Jo would let people do stuff that no other venue would allow.” A unique community, and a fragile network of global connections, were severed when her doors were shuttered.
“Yeah,” continues Price, “before (the noise scene) was contained at The Josephine, but now that they’ve taken that away from us, they’re gonna get it in the streets.”
Pizza Crawl 2015 E. Mercer St. & Summit Ave. E. (and other locations). www.pizzacrawl.party. Free, all ages. See Facebook event page for start time and location for after-party ($5, all-ages). Sat., Aug. 15.
Originally published at Seattle Weekly
The uniquely immersive ambient, experimental music festival says goodbye in its fifth and final incarnation.
In its fifth and final iteration, the Substrata 1.5 Festival is still holding true to its conviction, in the words of founder and director Rafael Anton Irisarri, “to create a space that is inspirational and stimulating, focused and introspective.”
Held at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford this Thursday through Saturday, Substrata features musicians and composers of experimental, postmodern, and ambient works. Artists and attendees will collaborate and discover through intimate performances and workshops in which sound exploration and invention are the main focus. Irisarri has scrupulously curated an event that goes far beyond the typical show to gestate an environment where the line between artist and audience begins to blur and a biosphere of mutual exploration occurs.
“I wanted the event to feel like a house show in a way,” Irisarri says, “where you know everyone, or perhaps not, but you feel very welcomed and surrounded by like-minded individuals with the commonality of loving music and sound art not necessarily popular at the time. There are no ‘headliners’ at Substrata—all artists were given the same consideration. I want you to hear something new, different, something foreign to your ears, something you probably haven’t heard before, and challenge any preconceptions.”
Substrata attendees certainly will hear something they haven’t before. The lineup ranges from ambient artists to singer/songwriters to former rave DJs—sometimes a dizzying combination of all three. Spanish composer Rauelsson, for example, expertly mixes orchestration, field recordings, classical piano solos, acoustic guitar, and synth elements to create something that sits beautifully between a film score and shoegaze drone. Mary Lattimore produces cascading loops and runs with her massive harp that sound equal parts horror movie and fairy-tale narrative.
Each year the festival offers an opportunity for attendees and musicians to cross the line between them through workshops and field trips based on collaboration and skill-sharing. This year’s workshop is with groundbreaking Ukrainian pianist/composer Lubomyr Melnyk, who in the 1970s developed “a new language” for the piano called “continuous music.” “It involves very fast, multi-pattern playing in each finger, and it’s amazing to witness live,” Irisarri says. “It also takes an enormous level of skill and dexterity—not just physical, but mental. The result of this technique creates a single wall of sound, full of rich overtones.” In the three-hour workshop, Melnyk will explain the technique and teach participants to develop the dexterity needed to perform the patterns he plays. As Irisarri says, “in line with everything else we are doing, [it’s] rather immersive.”
Immersion is of utmost importance in the Substrata universe—a value amplified by the Chapel Performance Space’s amazing acoustics. The lofty space will be outfitted with 4.1 surround sound for the show, and Vince Galloway, the live sound engineer for acclaimed electronic producer Nicolas Jaar, will man the soundsystem. It’s not surprising that Substrata-goers have taken to lying on the floor to let the sound completely wash over them.
As a composer, producer, and artist, Irisarri understands the need for a novel approach to designing a correct space for performers in this amorphous genre while providing a climate that maximizes the listening experience. “As Americans we are taught bigger is better. I couldn’t disagree more with this idea. Substrata is meant to be a tiny event, by design,” he says, noting that he could book the festival in a larger space and make more money, something he’s refused to do. Attendees are encouraged to turn off their phones and refrain from conversation—to “enjoy a little time off” to increase their presence in the intimate space. “We live in a time where we are bombarded by information every waking moment. As a result, we are constantly tuning out. Does this constant availability, saturation, and resulting tuning-out create a situation where art loses its value and becomes disposable?”
Irisarri had been located in Seattle, but moved to the East Coast last year, citing this distance as the main factor in ending the festival. He doesn’t want to diminish its quality by organizing things from afar. “I decided to go out with one last strong edition. Substrata listeners deserve the best I can give them as they have supported this event for years and trusted my curatorial judgment, in some cases even making the commitment early and buying a pass before a lineup was even announced. Doing one last edition is the least I can do for a place I consider my hometown.”
Substrata will certainly be missed. For five years it’s fulfilled a mission uniquely contrary to most overblown modern music festivals—helping you withdraw from a world filled with distraction, retreat to a sanctuary of sound, and take a moment to really listen.
Substrata 1.5 With Lubomyr Melnyk, Rachel Grimes, Tiny Vipers, and more. Chapel Performance Space, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N., 547-8127, irisarri.org/substrata. $45–$100 (Fri. & Sat. sold out). All ages. 7–10 p.m. Thurs., July 16–Sat., July 18.
Originally published at Seattle Weekly