photo by Selena Aument
| Chemistry Set by George Chen
Bay Guardian, June 1 - 7,
COLLISION the Mission Creek Music and Arts Festival's
series of performances by electronic sounds, experimental
music, and new media artists at the Lab is seemingly
more about the genre of sound art than the typical weeknight
rock show, but don't let that throw off your explorations.
In fact, most of this city's noiseniks have backgrounds in
many other creative fields, and you've probably crossed paths,
which makes the Lab series more like a Craigslist "missed
connection" waiting to happen.
Take, for example, Josh Churchill. On his self-released 3-inch
CD-R, under the name TR, Churchill lets loose with the sort
of guitar noise scree, bristly with electronic blocks, that
was a hallmark of old Amps for Christ. Alternately, he goes
speedy-fingerpicking crazy like local guitar hero Mick Barr.
The disc's 20-minute track then fades into some gurgling hiss
before an organ line drifts in and the stereo starts to sound
like it's leaking water. It winds its way through a passage
of murky melody before ramping back up to the level of noise
in an airplane hangar. I first knew of Churchill as a video
artist who was often involved with installations at Pond.
He also lived at a notorious 16th and Mission party space,
but he appears to be bringing his show on the road these days
as he tours the West with young noise turks like Oscillating
Innards and Tralphaz. He performs with laptop cut-up Mochipet
for the first night of the series.
Jim Haynes may be a face you recognize as one of the longtime
Aquarius Records staff, but you may not know of his background
as a visual artist and critic (notably, as a music columnist
for the Bay Guardian and Wire). Coelacanth,
his project with Loren Chasse, may also ring a bell if you
are tuned in to the Jewelled Antler Collective. Haynes's sound
advocacy includes a place on the editorial board of the 23five
label. The nonprofit's mission statement, taken from its Web
site, breaks things down so: "We define sound works as:
artistic endeavors that are primarily concerned with the use
of sound, but fall outside of what is normally considered
'music.' This includes but is not limited to: recordings,
radio transmissions, performances, installations, sound sculpture,
site specific public art, and new media arts."
This dedication to nonmusical sound is evident on his solo
CD, Magnetic North (Helen Scarsdale Agency, 2003).
His interest in rusting metals applies to the handmade packaging
layers of clear vellum tainted with bright orange rust
flake. The disc is the audio component of an installation
of the same name, exhibited at Zeitgeist in Nashville, Tenn.,
in 2003, in which rust and chemicals are applied to photograph
surfaces. There are low drones and stuttery hiccups of radio
blast it sounds like a circle closing in on itself
rather than an epic drama build.
Another interdisciplinarian closely tied to this circle is
irr.app. (ext.), an ongoing project of Bay Area resident Matt
Waldron. Though others course in and out of the live setting,
this visual artist and former member of Vacuum Tree Head has
been recording, if not releasing, material since 1991. In
addition to remixing Nurse with Wound and illustrating covers
for them, Waldron has composed scores for Butoh and started
a performing and literary group called the Oneiromantic Ambiguity
Irr. app. (ext.) have only ever played out a handful of times,
starting in 2003. The Ozeanische Gefuhle (Helen Scarsdale
Agency) record from 2001 sounds like field recordings of rain
baked with a low-volume ominous buzz. Cavernous echoes are
bounced with flutes, and it's all very pagan and mysterious.
Smatterings of percussion and whirlwinds of delay pool about
the speakers, and at about 25 minutes in, these screechy sounds
swoop and attack. Bells or gongs hum in resonance as their
metallic husks clang, leaving plenty of breathing space. "The
Demiurge's Presumption" coalesces into a beautiful drone
that mimics a harmonium before the sounds of plucked rubber
bands drift in. The whole thing hovers closer to the gothic
side of atmospheric doom.