Amanda Chaudhary and Tania Chen at Spectrum, New York

Today we look back at my performance with Tania Chen at Spectrum in New York, a little over a week ago.


[Photo by BC]

Our duo is built around a mixture of experimental improvisation with electronic instruments and other elements, and songs with lyrics, melodies and chords, often segueing seamlessly from one to the other. Spectrum has a wonderful Steinway grand piano, which allowed to Tania to exercise her piano skills while I focused on chords and rhythm with a Nord Electro keyboard and DSI Prophet 12 and Moog Mother-32 synthesizers. At times the sound was dark and droning, others very sparse, and many times quite humorous – after all, we did sing a “Cheezy Love Song.” The songs themselves were quite structured, but there as well as the improvisations in between we were able to play off one another to create patterns and textures.



[Photos by BC]

I particularly like the sections combining the acoustic piano with the Prophet 12, and our dueling Casio keyboards. And yes, we had a lot of fun. You can see our full performance in this video below.

Overall we had a great time performing and it was quite well received by the audience. It wasn’t actually our first show together in New York. That was at the Brick Theater in Brooklyn and will be discussed in a separate article.


Our performance was in the middle of the bill. The evening began with a set by Hey Exit, a solo project by Brooklyn-based Brandan Landis.

Using guitar, electronics and video, Landis created a dark soundscape, sometimes noisy and drawing from his backgrounds in punk and noise, but at other times quite haunting and ethereal. The room was particularly dark, with light only from the video screen and a nearby candle.

Hey Exit was followed by a solo set by Jeff Surak featuring sundry electronic and acoustic sound sources.

Much of the set featured long drones with rich timbres, but also details such as beating patterns and occasional breaks in the sound. The timbres could be tense at moments, but overall tt was a very meditative performance; and a perfect sonic segue into our very different set.

We were immediately followed by Jarvis Jun Earnshaw performing with guitar, voice and electronics.

His sound at times was reminiscent of cafe folk singers, but his voice was anxious and abstract. The entire performance mostly followed the pattern of combining these elements with high-feedback delay and other effects.

The final set Jenn Grossman, another Brooklyn-based musician and sound artist.


[Photo by BC]

Her electronic set featured vocal experimentation with electronics, including rhythmic and ambient elements. Although also making use of drones, it was very different from Jeff Surak’s sound, more harmonic and thicker, more like a dreamy movie scene versus a tense dark space. There were percussive hits and noisy bits as well, which gave the music a defined texture.

It was overall a great experience being back at Spectrum and performing along with all the other acts. And we had a sizable and appreciative audience, despite the space being a little hot that evening. Thanks as always to Robert Pepper (Alrealon Musique) and Glenn Cornet for hosting us, and hopefully I will play there again soon.

CatSynth pic: Keyboard Cat, Casio VL-1, and Pedals

Keyboard Cat, VL-1, and pedals

From The Keyboard Cat (yes, the Keyboard Cat) on Facebook. It looks like he has some great gear in addition to his main keyboard, such as the Casio VL-1 and pedals in this photo.

CatSynth Pic, and an Update on Luna

Luna, Casio SK-1 and Korg Volca Beats

Luna poses near her beanbag chair in the studio and stacked Casio SK-1 and Korg Volca BEATS. More importantly, she is now collar-free! She got the all clear at her post-surgery follow-up on Friday, as the incision is healing well. We will soon be in contact with the oncologist about a next round of chemo and hopefully we will knock out the cancer for real.

Luna has been much happier without the collar, and he mood has brightened a lot. She is playful and affectionate, but she does sleep a lot – she is a cat after all. But her sleeping once again looks very peaceful.

Luna sleeping in a circle

I am always impressed with her ability to curl up into a nearly perfect circle.

OtterSynth video: Otters on a Casio

Occasionally, we feature synths with other animals besides cats. This is one of those occasions. This video of otters playing a Casio keyboard is too cute not to share. And not too different from some of the human-made free jazz I have heard.

From Smithsonian’s National Zoo:

Move over, Mozart! Asian small-clawed otter paws fly across the keyboard as part of their #ZooEnrichment. The otters are given the choice to play the keyboard or just sit back and enjoy the show—engaging their sight, touch, and hearing senses.

CatSynth pic: Cat and Casio CTK-496

Casio CTK-496

Black cat sitting atop a Casio CTK-496 keyboard. From rowannoyes on Instagram.

CatSynth pic: Harkonnen and PT-20

A couple of weeks ago, we featured Arrakis that cat. Today we introduce Arrakis’ brother Harkonnen. (Yes, we see what they did there.)

Harkonnen and PT-20

Harkonnen bangs out a tune on his Casio PT-20. Submitted by Yann Antimoine‎ via Facebook.

CatSynth pic: Pumpkin and SK-1

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Submitted by our friend Amber Brien of PAS Musique. Click here to read about their performance in San Francisco last year.

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While my SK-1 does not function as a cat bed, I probably should make better use if it 🙂

BirdSynth pic (?!)

While we are focused on cats, occasionally a photo with other animals is too cute to pass up, such as this one of budgies taking over a Casio keyboard.

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This actually marks the second “birdsynth” picture, as we featured an owl here.

CatSynth pic: Videocat and Casio SK-1

Videocat with Casio SK-1

“videocat sings along with her new casio sk-1”

Submitted by The Wiggly Tendrils via our Facebook page.

 

Manda Synth Cat and the World’s Smallest Synthesizer

From Marie Haddad, via matrixsynth.

“”Manda the kitty decided to help me write a song today. Somebody needs to get this cat a mic!”

No cat in this second photo, but that must be one of the tiniest keyboards I have seen: