Saturday, February 8, 2014

SIMF (Seattle Improvised Music Festival) 2/7/2014

This is the only SIMF concert that I’m able to get to this year. It was, however, the one that I most wanted to see – I was curious, if nothing else, about Andrea Neumann’s modified autoharp.

Joe Morris: Solo Guitar
Three pieces: 1. Splintered needles of sound, rather in the manner of some of Elliot Sharp’s acoustic improvisations. 2. Fingernails used to create a scrubbing, bowing sound. 3. Variations on the above, with a surprising amount of melodic development. In all three pieces, short tone “cells” continuously evolved in a state of flux, each sprouting numerous variations and techniques.

(album cover by Bonnie Jones and Andrea Neumann, with Christine Abdelnour)

Andrea Neumann: Autoharp / Gust Burns: Electronics
Gust’s electronic device was known as a “dub plate” – which is apparently a variation on the standard turntable. Andrea’s autoharp was amplified with a pick-up and run through various guitar foot pedals; it may also have been retuned or prepared (though with the sound distortion from the pedals, this was not obvious). Together they produced a sparse soundscape. Foggy memories of sounds emerged and faded back into the silence of the room. Here was a cluster of high notes on a piano; there was a voice speaking unintelligibly; over there were crystalline prepared-piano timbres. Electronic hums occasionally floated through the air. The room itself seemed to get into the act with crackings and boomings; the old boards and beams of the building were expanding and contracting with the cold winter night (outside) and the warmth (inside).

Naomi Segal: trombone / Bonnie Jones and Jonathan Way: electronics
This began as a continuation of the previous set. Bonnie started with thumping and knocking on the table where her electronic equipment sat; these sounds were amplified and filtered and cycled back into the room. Naomi added slivers of melody on her trombone. The piece grew and developed organically. The two electronic musicians functioned as a single player; the trombone likewise added what seemed to be electronic sounds (sometimes also filtered and repeated). The result had the effect of a symphonic work, with its own development and climaxes.

After hearing this concert, I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to make it to the next one, tonight (2/8/2014). All concerts of the series are at the Chapel Performance Space at Good Shepherd Center, Seattle.

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