Edgetone New Music Summit

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Edgetone Music Summit, including the Wednesday night performance SonicLight. All the performances including both musical and visual elements being “performed.” The visuals were as much a live performance element as the music, rather than simply films or videos that were being shown while the music was played.

The first set was a piece by No More Twist! entitled Inquisition for Suspect, Examiner and Audience. No More Twist! is the due of Les Hutchins and Polly Moller, who of course should be quite familiar to regular readers of this site.

The performance involved Polly Moller, as the “Suspect”, being attached to the Glove of Truth, a custom lie-detector that measures vital signs and transmits the data to a computer, where it is interpreted visually and sonically, and used to determine falsehood or truth, as in the sample below:

Audience members were invited to ask yes/no questions to invoke declarations of “true” or “lie.” This is of course especially fun for audience members who may be able to independently verify the answers to their questions. Of course, the most fun for everyone was when the word “lie” would appear on the screen in all its accusatory grandeur.

The next performance was by Kwisp, a duo featuring Walter Funk and Lenny Bove. It featured a variety of elements including a holographic projection that audience members were encouraged to come view at close range (but not too close lest one damage the specialized lens); and custom analog electronics including the tower electronique, displayed to the right.

Musically, Kwisp was closer to the standard “experimental electronics” performances that I perform or attend, with its combination of laptop-based electronics, analogue synthesis and processing, improvisation and noise.

The final performance was a video and live-music set by Thickness/Mono-Layer. The group, which includes John Reily, Eric Steinberg and Charles Kremenak, performed a “power duo” of bass and guitar (with synthesis and processing) against two videos projected on either side of the hall. The videos were incredibly detailed in their editing (several of us commented on the sheer volume of separate clips and cuts and the amount of time it must have taken to put them together). Indeed, I was quite involved in the visuals, that I didn’t spend as much attention on the music, though I did recognize the guitar synthesizer at various moments.

The Edgetone Music Summit is an annual festival in San Francisco that features “Independent artists most of whom are practitioners in music and sound of improvised and or experimental and or exploratory nature.” It began as an event to support the artists of Edgetone Records, an artist operated recording label for improvised and experimental music that includes several of our friends. As part of the summit, I had the opportunity to hear a lecture by Edgetone Records’ founder Rent Romus on the concept of the “Artist Run Label” the night before the SoundLight performance.

The programs provided for the summit each included a “drop card”, which can be used to download music by each of the performers from all events of the festival. We will be listening to, and probably commenting on, some of those tracks soon…