Thanks to Jeff Terich, who wrote the article. Some hometown support!
Id M Theft Able is a performer and improviser from Portland, Maine.. He sits somewhere in between the areas of noise, free improvisation, sound poetry, and performance art by using voice, found objects, and electronics. He has given hundreds of performances across 4 continents in settings ranging from the scummiest of squats to the fanciest of festivals. Today he brings a voice-only improvisation called ‘Bout Half a Gallon of Dripped Weight Lo$$.
He and Steve Flato have their second conversation after Steve forgets to turn the recorder on the first time. They discuss Id M Theft Able’s early experiences with tape recorders and shortwave radios without knowing other people were exploring similar areas; an experience with a music theory teacher and a lie about John Cage; his gradual movement from composition to improvisation; the idea of creating art as an inadvertent mating call; comedy in experimental music; subjectivity, emotion, and communication; self-esteem and using music as a tool to shape your self.
16:12 – John Cage
16:30 – Imaginary Landscape #4
17:40 – Prepared piano
20:00 – Stockhausen – Sirius
20:45 – Fluxus
20:50 – Musique Concrete
41:45 – Flow psychology
55:35 – Alvin Lucier
56:40 – EAI
Photograph by @justina__v
G. Lucas Crane speaks with Steve Flato on today’s episode of Signifying Something. Crane is a sound artist, performer, and musician whose work focuses on information anxiety, media confusion, and new performance techniques for obsolete technology. He is one of the co-founders of the experimental art and performance space the Silent Barn, located in NYC. He makes collages of reconstituted sample-based sound using the medium of cassette tape and has been in bands such as Woods, Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice. His solo work is released under the name Nonhorse.
Crane and Flato discuss playing with time and the nature of an instrument based on recordings of previous events; how people continue to use technology that is useful to them regardless of whether it’s “obsolete” or not; the importance of creating encounters with yourself in a performative setting; the diaristic nature of Crane’s sample library; associations with sound; listening and playing as two discrete modes of interacting with his material; musical problem solving; achieving a trance-like state during a performance; performance conventions in experimental music and otherwise; imperfection within the context of looping; tradition and vocabulary in what is usually considered “non-traditional” music; and what art can achieve beyond the expression of the author.
(In my work) there’s this sort of underlying belief or tenet that whatever sound we’re hearing probably has a lot more going on with it than we’re either aware of or are giving it credit for.” – Sarah Hennies
Today’s episode is all about identity and understanding yourself through your own creations. Sarah Hennies joins us and premiers the piece “Pressure”, which is created entirely from one piece of percussion: the hi-hat. By varying the pressure of the foot pedal on the hi-hat, Sarah changes the quality of the sound and the various tones that are emitted. Different speeds on the metronome are set and multi-tracked, and the results are presented as they were recorded. The result is a cascade of overlapping percussion sounds that can be felt physically in the body.
Sarah discusses how a piece like “Pressure”, which is one of the first recorded examples of her composed music, gave her clues about herself. At one time, it seemed like a good idea to use this approach in her music. She came back to the idea of music that can be “felt” later in life, and realized she touched on it with “Pressure” at a previous time. Looking back with renewed clarity, Sarah was able to gain insights about herself at that time in her life and use this to create a more refined work. At another point, Sarah decided that physically demanding, labor intensive performances were going to be her focus. What does that say about her? There was a reason she came up her ideas at a specific time in her life. Sarah saw inadvertent signs in her music, and now she uses these signs and layers of meaning purposefully as tools in her compositional process.
“It’s either life or death for me. This is the kind of urgency I feel like I want to bring into my performance and to my practice. There’s a sense of urgency. It’s either life or death but I choose life. For so long I always thought death. I’m not here to brood. My past is my past but I am who I am now. That transformation is what’s important, it’s about that turning point. It’s not about the resolution necessarily, it’s just about the transformation.” – Muyassar Kurdi
Muyassar Kurdi joins us on Signifying Something today. She is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist. Her work encompasses sound, extended vocal technique, performance art, movement, photography, and film. She stirs a plethora of emotions from her audience members through vicious noise, ritualistic chants, and meditative movements. Kurdi studied voice and dance with legendary vocalist, dancer and recording artist Meredith Monk via The House Foundation, as well as learning the Japanese dance tradition of Butoh with Tadashi Endo, director of the Butoh Center MAMU.
Steve Flato speaks with her today, and learns the importance of wholeness, connection, vulnerability, and honesty in her work. The piece showcased today is called MACHINE/BODY: Intersections and Variations (Part 2) and was performed in Berlin in February 2017 during her residency at Liebig12 with the piece being played at Vierte Welt. Muyassar’s piece involves a full body electronic device that senses movement and light and transforms it into sound, a crackle box that responds to touch, sculptural elements, and movement/dance.
The importance of movement and engaging all of the senses is a vital part to Muyassar’s work. Interdependent dualities are a recurring theme, as evidenced in the MACHINE/BODY project. She and Steve discuss the relation of art to her life, engaging in a philosophical talk that touches on music as a healing force, growth and the transformative experience, the importance of honesty and vulnerability in art, the myth that one has to suffer for their art, and past experiences that have helped her evolve.
*May 11th- Ka Baird: Espylacopa (A reversal in three acts), Issue Project Room
*June 23rd- duo with Nicholas Jozwiak (voice, movement, cello) at the Rubin Museum of Art, NYC at the opening of the sound exhibition.
*July 9th- Chicago Cultural Center
David Kirby is a software programmer by trade and a musician primarily working in the medium of cassette tapes, making rhythmic tape collages that surprise and confuse. He describes his work as “an open air experiment exploring psychophysical defecation in virtual spaces.” Using handheld recorders, he manipulates and molds his sounds by physically interacting with the cassette players by varying the pressure on the buttons as well as other mysterious techniques. He does not employ effects but rather lets the tapes and his interaction with them speak for itself. His cassettes come from wherever he can find them, and no sound is out of the question. Often unexpected, incredibly rhythmic and playful, and sometimes completely confounding, David’s tape works are represented by the piece showcased today, “Mixdown“.
He and Steve Flato have known each other for quite some time, crossing paths via various internet platforms like Soulseek and web forums over ten years ago. Their conversation is as playful and unexpected as David’s music, covering a wide range of topics such as David’s experience living with a medicine woman in the mountains of South Carolina; his net label Homophoni; psychedelic drugs and experimental music; dimensional listening; the connection between improvised music and failure; his current avoidance of four-track tape machines and preference for simple handheld recorders; the falling availability and rising cost of cassettes; what the format of cassette tapes offer as a unique experience separate from vinyl or digital; the distinction between using tapes as instruments vs. as an end-product for the listener; David’s thoughts on recordings of improvised music and the loss of data involved; the loss of physical media as digital distribution becomes more widely adopted; the connection between electroacoustic improvisation and jazz; and booty shorts.
Matthew Revert is a writer, musician and designer from Melbourne, Australia. His music has been released by labels such as Kye, Erstwhile Records, No Rent Tapes and caduc records. Today he joins us on Signifying Something and presents an outtake from an upcoming LP, entitled “borntwo”.
Fear, risk, and expressivity are the themes that Matthew and Steve Flato discuss on today’s episode. Topics include why Matthew feels it’s important to be out of his comfort zone while engaging in the creative process; why he wouldn’t describe his music as “experimental” — or describe his music as anything but “songs”; music as a therapeutic process; how Matthew approaches words in his music vs. words in his novels; not being embarrassed by using “hackneyed” tools (like drenching your voice in reverb) in his creations; how he recorded an entire record while suffering from the flu; and the importance of empathy in film scoring and how Revert approached his first project for the screen; and why labeling your art before you make it can be paralyzing.