Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Brief Look at Experimental Music

Back in September, I attended part of Sonic Circuits, which is a DC area experimental music festival.  Experimental music, I learned, encompasses many things.

Cornel West Theory
There was the Cornel West Theory, a DC hip-hop group with an angry political bent.  I liked them a lot.  However, they were the most "conventional" of all the "experimental" bands that day.

There were several jazz ensembles.  I forget which one this is.  Their entire set consisted of one 30 minute improvisational song.  They played an encore afterwards, which I didn't stick around for because the first song was so exhausting.  I can only assume it was a trillion years long though.

Here is Astma.  They came all the way from Russia.  They had a guy on guitar and a girl who howled and screeched into the microphone while playing drums.

RDK + Insect Factory
RDK + Insect Factory was quite good.  They were intriguing enough that I bought a CD of theirs, though I can't really describe how they sounded.  Very atmospheric and cool.  Also, the guitarist reminds me of Sergio Cilli from infoMania.

My favorite act of the day though was Fuse Ensemble.
Fuse Ensemble
This whole performance was called "Usina Mekanica" and it is the work of local composer Gina Bever. It consisted of several musicians playing a variety of instruments, both conventional and unconventional. There were the tiny toy pianos, pictured above.

There was also the creative use of wind-up toys to add another interesting layer of sound.
Fuse Ensemble

There were the more conventional string instruments..
Fuse Ensemble

And there was a mechanical table.  You know, every band needs a mechanical table to hoble around during songs.
Fuse Ensemble

And, of course, every band needs a wind-up punched paper playing do-hickey.  Do these things have a technical name?  It created a sound similar to what you would hear from a music box, so I'm guessing it's the same technology.
Fuse Ensemble

Overall, I can get behind any group that includes guys in grey jumpsuits and wind-up toys.

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