Marc Kate Live on the Prophet 12

A performance from the 2019 San Francisco Electronic Music Festival

One highlight of last year’s San Francisco Electronic Music Festival was a disarmingly simple set on the part of local musician Marc Kate. While many participants in the annual festival bring a richly performative aspect to their work, not to mention a range of devices, Kate sat behind a single Prophet 12 synthesizer atop a card table. I reviewed the concert series that year for The Wire, noting that Kate “plays stately, increasingly lacerated chords.” There were a lot of performers in 2019 and only a little room in the review, so that’s all Kate got in the piece. Now he’s uploaded the performance, all 20 minutes, giving it a larger audience than it did that evening. When you listen, and you should, do pay attention around the halfway mark. That’s when the piece, which bears admirable qualities of the Blade Runner score, transitions from gentle atmospherics to threatening ones, from chamber music to something far more orchestral. Early on, the tones are not necessarily comforting, but the drones have a sleepy quality, with hints of the depth of night, the undercurrent of something wicked coming this way. Then the wickedness arrives, and does it ever. The second half is full of climatic (and climactic) tumult, the force and bluster of a raging storm, combined with the anxiety of an alien invasion. It’s a pretty masterful performance.

Track originally posted at More from Kate at

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