Monday, November 06, 2006

Annette Krebs played a strong, lovely set last night. The space was the back room at Monkeytown, a restaurant abut a half block in from Kent Ave. on N3rd St in Williamsburg. Had dinner beforehand with my brother Drew; pretty decent stuff, kinda high-end Italo-Mexican if there is such a thing. Didn't realize at the time that we could've eaten in the performance space proper, though I don't cotton to that idea very much with, in general, eai. Too much concentration required if it's any good. The performing space was a cube about 20ft square with low slung couches along all four walls and enormous video screens on each. Comfy and cool.

Bryan Eubanks was first up and played a 27-minute (timed, apparently) drone, arising from circuitry. Though fairly dense, with 5-6 discernable strands coming into and out of focus, one got pretty much the entire picture after five or so minutes; it needn't have lasted longer. I was thinking though that, had I encountered the "same" sound in an, er, more natural setting (say leaning against the engine housing of a large ship) I may have happily sat for much longer, enjoying the "music". Something about the intentionality of an art performance, this time, soured things.

Annette's set was beautifully structured and lasted exactly as long as it needed to (less than 20 minutes, I'm pretty sure). Varying the sources from radios (serendipitously catching snatches of the Colt/Patriot game!) to delicately plucked, koto-like guitar strings, to amplified rubbed objects, it was the kind of performance that just makes sense, simply coheres, without one being able to express exactly why. Poetic choice-making, for one thing, I suspect. Projected around her was the 1927 Duchamp film, "Anemic Cinema" (and, d'oh! I just now realized, whilst typing, that this is an anagram!) which consists of optical illusions of spiraling created by overlapping, twirling concentric circles. Lovely stuff.

I'll say up front that anyone referring to themselves, in public, as "corridors" is on shaky ground as far as garnering any respect from me. They guy doing so last night (I forget his given name) spun out cotton candy wafts of ersatz-Eno for an ungodly length of time. I swear, every time a new sonic element was introduced, I inwardly (hopefully not audibly) groaned in the realization that this ensured at least 5-10 more minutes of intense boredom. I did discover something interesting, however: there are occasions when the sound I can pick up, travelling between jawbone and eardrum, of myself chewing gum can actually be far more fascinating than the music occurring in the room in which I happen to be sitting.

Sawako, a young Japanese lady, closed out the evening with a perfectly enjoyablemixture of field recordings and electronics--light but tasty. Accompanying her was an amazing film by Ralph Steiner, "Surf and Seaweed" (1930) which, when not serving as a backdrop for a Williamsburg art performance, contains music by Marc Blitzstein (how about that?). It consisted entirely of shots of water near shore, waves lapping and receding; very "basic" stuff in a sense, but gorgeously shot and lingered over. I see that it's available as a small part of a 7-disc DVD set called "Unseen Cinema - Early American Avant Garde Film 1894-1941" that came out last year. Santa? You listening?

Speaking of DVDs, I received a new release on the intriguing and rewarding, if bafflingly named, OgreOgress label this afternoon. They've been putting out first performances of numerous late Cage pieces and this one, "Two3/Inlets/Two4" is in that same tradition. 158 minutes long! 121 of which are taken up by "Two3", 10 pieces for, in this case, solo sho. The sho is a Japanese mouth organ often used in gagaku performance. 121 minutes of solo sho, relatively sparsely arranged at that, is a lot for most Westerners, I imagine, to absorb--including me. "Inlets" is a delightful intermission of sorts, performed on conch shells, both blown and tipped back and forth while filled with water. "Two4" is quite similar, unsurprisingly, to "Two3" except presented here for sho and violin (the always excellent Christina Fong). The simple addition of a second voice does wonders for this gaijin's ears.

2 comments:

Rod... said...

nice comments about Annette Krebs... I saw her in Dublin a few months ago with Keith Rowe, Mark Wastell et al and was very impressed...

Brian Olewnick said...

Hi Rod, thanks. Yeah, she's a fascinating musician and a lovely person. Always eager to hear new work from her. She's on her way to Texas in a couple of days for a concert or two and some workshops. Anyone down that way (Dallas and Austin, I believe) make sure to check her out.