I went to a gig, recently. BEAM NIGHT at
Café Oto. It sounded really great. Firstly, Café Oto is well known in ‘cool’
Dalston for live music performances and secondly, the way the event was
advertised, made it sound even more interesting: “BEAM is a playground of
homemade instruments and sonic installations… The acts tonight all use unusual
and/or homemade interfaces to perform…”
There’s very poor light on the stage. A few spotlights throw dim yellow light on essential things needed for performance. Two artists are opening the event. Adam Parkinson and Atau Tanaka each holding two iPhones, play 4 hands chamber music running special application, which they created for this particular device. These are highly experimental instruments, that “are not particularly easy to perform”. The gadgets respond to the motion of the artists. But, it’s not only about moving hands. At some point you see them playing the instruments involving the whole body. And it’s a beautiful live performance, other than being an unusual sound experience.
Given the fact that these are the
instruments that are built with consumer technology today and they are programmable,
their creators might be able to produce versions of the same instruments that
are perhaps more accessible, easier to play, adapted to musical styles that
people listen and to allow them to be more proactive in the musical process, to
take an iPhone and not just consume music by listening to it, but also enter
into interaction, into forms of participation with music.
The night got hotter and more exciting as
we were offered by Marco Donnarumma to listen to his flesh. Yes, I said, F L E
S H. Have you ever heard the sound of your muscles, or your blood vessels. I
haven’t yet heard mine, but I listened to Marco’s.
Xth sense is a free and open source system, coded by the artist himself, for biphysical music, which is a term that he created to define this composition of muscle sounds, and other kind of low frequency sounds which is produced by the body. Software listens to muscle contraction and produces different sounds depending on the amplitude of the contraction, on the rhythm of the contraction, sequences of gestures.
Tom Bugs, coming from a musical background,
who had to at some point ‘sell his musician soul’ and become a ‘musician on the
fringe’, today, instead of doing record releases, he makes sonic objects. But
influence of a musical background is still audible. He plays semi-improvised
music by connecting around 50 patch cables to the sound device, which is
designed and created by himself.
“The interest for me, I found that
certainly, I want stuff that has got chaotic element to it which will create
surprises, which I then have to react to,” said Tom.
Bruno Zamborlin who invented Mogees, which reads gestural language on any surface, performed on Café Oto’s beer bottle, on the pipe on the wall, on the Brick Trowel (this is a building tool. You can Google it to find out how it looks like, or just watch the video, there’s only one building tool there. No, actually there are two. He performed on the Brick Trowel using a drill bit.)
Leafcutter John ended the night by playing sound which involved the sensors that would recognize the light. It might sound complicated but actually the artist himself describes it as ‘very simple, not supposed to be magic’.