A concert from May 15, 2019
Finally got to see Joseph Branciforte perform live last week for the first time, having admired his music for several years now. He is on tour with Theo Bleckmann, supporting their forthcoming collaborative album, LP1, which as the title suggests is the first of something, in this case the first from a new record label, Greyfade, founded by Branciforte. The duo performed on Wednesday, May 15, at the Center for New Music at the edge of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, with Billy Gomberg opening up. Branciforte and Bleckmann are based in New York City, and Gomberg moved to San Francisco from New York last year.
Branciforte, an accomplished producer and musician, worked with sounds manipulated by and triggered from his laptop, yielding small percussive motives and gentle washes. Bleckmann has recorded for ECM, Winter & Winter, and other labels, and his past collaborators include Laurie Anderson, Phil Kline, and Meredith Monk. He was very much the focus of the performance, a charismatic singer in a polka-dot shirt who channeled the evident power of his voice into tiny, soft gestures that he looped and transformed with a small battery of devices on an adjacent table. Together they filled the room with often fiercely quiet and delicate material, playing straight through for about 45 minutes.
Gomberg opened the evening with a set on his economically sized modular synthesizer rig. He explained to the audience at the start of the show that the apartment building in which he lives has had renovations going on, and that the work has caused a lot of noise, noise he has in turn been filtering into his own work. In this case that meant the sounds of construction and the muffled conversations, in Spanish, of workers, which he slowly subsumed, the voices giving way over time to modestly scaled melodic pursuits. The transitions were so subtle that you had to think back to recall where your ear had been. There was an introspection to the piece that suggested someone making mental space for themselves amid the persistent cacophony.
More from Bleckmann at theobleckmann.com, Branciforte at josephbranciforte.com, Gomberg at fraufraulein.com, and the Greyfade label at greyfade.com.
Une Rencontre de Juntos at Cabaret Berlin
More details as it approaches, but there’s a special Disquiet Junto live event taking place in Montréal, Quebec, on Sunday, June 23. Various members of the Junto are meeting up in the city that weekend (several local, others traveling for the event), hanging out, and on Sunday performing at Cabaret Berlin (cabaretberlin.ca). There’s a more detailed entry on Cabaret Berlin’s Facebook page. The participants include: New Tendencies (aka Matt Nish-Lapidus), Electric Kitchen (aka Mark Lentczner), and the duo of Simon Demeule and Maxime Giard. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to make it, but in some ways it’s all the more exciting for me when Junto events occur that I’m not directly involved in. That said, I do hope I can make it.
And the act of reviewing everyday sounds as if they were record albums
This is a quick note in case you’re coming to Disquiet.com for the first time, having read about my writing, research, and teaching in Rob Walker’s excellent new book, The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday (Knopf, 2019).
I’ll write more about Rob’s book in the near future, but in the meanwhile, one of the subjects he discusses in his book is my practice of reviewing the sounds of everyday things. (This specific page from The Art of Noticing is helpfully archived on books.google.com, for reference.)
A sequence of such reviews appears here on the Disquiet website under the tag #listening-to-yesterday. These include the final moments of a dying lightbulb, the odd quiet of a usually bustling restaurant, and the background noise of a bank’s institutional authority, among many others.
Soon to be upgraded, and eaten
Why, yes, a five-star review on Reverb.com to the person from Poland who included the lovely rainbow power cable and a bonus region-specific candy bar* with my, speaking of candy, (mini) Ornament and Crime synthesizer module (due to be updated momentarily with Hemispheres alternate firmware, though by “momentarily” I mean after work, and though “after work,” this being Friday, will likely mean this weekend, which is to say before Monday, if I’m lucky).
*”Milk chocolate bar with creamy flavoured filling (contains alcohol).”
Update: Who knew? Updating the Ornament and Crime module to the alternate firmware called Hemispheres took approximately five minutes, tops. I’m all set.
I Dream of Wires is the incorrect title for that great documentary on modular synthesizers.
It should be titled: Couldn’t Sleep Because I Read Manuals Too Late at Night and My Brain Wouldn’t Stop Patching.
. . .
In the meanwhile, here is where my system is currently at (or will be when two of those modules arrive from, respectively, Poland and down in Southern California). The blank space at the bottom is, indeed, bank. Likely other modules will go before it is filled. We’ll see.