μHausen at Camp Happy

This morning I look back to μHausen (micro-Hausen) at Camp Happy in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was really a “tiny festival within a tiny festival”, as we took over Sunday afternoon with our esoteric and (mostly) electronic music.

I brought a relatively compact and self-contained setup:

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A few “greatest hits”, such as the Evolver which I mix with live performance on prayer bowl; the monome controlling Max/MSP on the MacBook for live sampling and looping of Indian and Chinese folk instruments; the “trusty Kaoss Pad”; the iPhone running the Smule Ocarina (which I had just used two nights earlier at Instagon 543. I also added the iPad for the first time, using the Smule Magic Piano, Curtis granular synthesizer, and an app the simulates a Chinese guzheng.

I packed up and made the long trip from San Francisco to Boulder Creek. Unlike Santa Cruz, which is a straight shot, getting to Boulder Creek in the mountains is a bit of a challenge on winding mountain roads, some of which masquerade as state highways. Look for an upcoming “fun with highways” describing that part of the experience.

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I arrived just in time for the performance. Respectable Citizen, the duo of Bruce Bennet and Michael Zbyszynski, performing keyboard+electronics and saxophone+electronics, respectively. Their set featured fast saxophone riffs and “watery” FM sounds, some loud oversaturated moments, a fast shuffle, urban-landscape sounds, and insect-like sounds, with lots of speed changes and signal processing (e.g., waveshaping).


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Luke Dahl performed a fun piece based on samples from Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Kontakte 2. It is one of my favorite recordings, and Luke’s samples featured one of my favorite moments from it (a sort of descending pulse sound that eventually slows down to become discrete percussive hits). He arranged short samples on a grid that could be triggered independently, to make “improvised Stockhausen.” I got a chance to try it out after his performance.

I was next on the program. I opened with the live sampling and playback controlled by the monome. The light patterns on the device still captured the attention of the audience even in the bright afternoon sun. I think they were also intrigued by my technique of putting the iPhone Ocarina in front of the speaker.

Next up was a live broadcast of the R Duck Show. The opened with the somewhat funky 1970s theme from Sanford and Son, which soon started to glitch and was eventually replaced by freeform noise along with keyboards and guitar. Eventually, a mellow beat emerged (I am pretty this was done with Ableton Live!). Oh, and the program’s host Albert brought chocolate. Really good dark chocolate infused with chilis. Quite tasty.

The program was rounded out with The Stochastics, a trio of Chris Cohn, Leaf Tine and Wayne Jackson.


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The set opened with low rumbling noises, which served as a foundation for Wayne’s circuit bent instruments and Leaf’s vocalizations and performance on an instrument which seemed to be a didgeridoo with a trombone-like bell. Lots of interesting words and incantations and throat singing, and squeaks and squeals and rumbles from the circuit bent instruments. Here is a close-up of the impressive array of circuit bent toys.

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One fun moment was Wayne attempting to create a sub-contra-contra-bass plucked string instrument by stringing duct tape between the microphone on one side of the stage and the speaker stand on the other.

More Upcoming Shows: Instagon at the Luggage Store Gallery, and Mini-Woodstockhausen at Camp Happy

No sooner had concluded my recent performance with Reconnaissance Fly at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento than I find myself with two more shows before next Monday.

Tomorrow, I will be performing with Instagon at the Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco. Instagon is an interesting group whose membership changes for every performance. In addition to founder and core member Lob Instagon, I will be joined by Mark Wilson (Conure), Lena Strayhorn, Martin from Vernian Process, and Alan Herrick (Nux Vomica). I think this description from the group’s bio sums things up well:

INSTAGON is a term coined to describe the SPONTANEOUS FACTOR, the essence of Chaos Theory… everything that happens in this universe changes instantaneously upon its creation… nothing stays the same… everything changes, and is gone in an instant… hence INSTAGON.

And then on Sunday afternoon (1PM-4PM), it’s off to Boulder Creek in the Santa Cruz mountains for a miniature revival of the Woodstockhausen. Woodstockhausen was the “tiny festival of esoteric music” that took place every year in the Santa Cruz mountains and then at the University of California Santa Cruz until its last year in 2003. We did plan a revival in 2007, which ended up getting rained out. This time we are having a more modest performance as part of the annual Camp Happy Boulder Creek, which will be going all weekend before and after the couple of hours where we take over with our “weird music.”

New Podcast: Mercury Grid live at Woodstockhausen 2002


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With all the craziness from last month, we didn't have much opportunity to release podcasts for the CatSynth Channel. But we're going to start things up again with another live performance from the archives.

This was one of three short pieces I performed at the 2002 Woodstockhausen Festival at the University of California, Santa Cruz. It is entitled Mercury Grid and involved live control of sound using a Wacom graphics tablet (which I have used in most of my live performances up until this year). The sound was done using my Open Sound World software. There was also a video component, with live 3D graphics that reacted in real time to the music.

I have not listened to this piece for a while. It's better than I have given it credit for, and would like to revive it for future live performances. There is also a studio version, which you can find on my music website.

We welcome submissions and requests for our podcast series. You can use our handy submission form, or contact us to get your music featured on the CatSynth Channel.

Woodstockhausen 2007 Cancelled

Weather is always a risk with an outdoor event, and so it is with Woodstockhausen 2007. As suggested earlier, we are having some unusually bad rain, which affected both the stage as well as the roads in the Santa Cruz mountains, so the event had to be cancelled.

At this point, I haven't heard any plans to reschedule…

Podcast correction

A serious “mybad moment” with the podcast series. The March 25 release “Charmer:Firmament from Woodstockhausen 2003” had the wrong audio file. I have now corrected the situation, and the proper audio is linked in.

Those who have already subscribed and downloaded the March 25 episode will probably have to either unsubscribe (as I did in iTunes) or perform some other acrobatics to get the updated audio.

The “incorrect” piece was an ensemble improv from 2004 that I may release in an upcoming episode, this time properly labeled and attributed.





New Podcast: Charmer:Firmament live at Woodstockhausen 2003

Well, my latest experiment with sampled piano was a flop, and a close friend and fellow crazy experimental musician is currently in my thoughts, so it seems a good time to release one of my live performances from the Woodstockhausen 2003 festival. In this case, it is a live version of Charmer:Firmament, a piece for digital computer controlled live by a graphics tablet. A recorded version of this piece also appears on my CD Aquatic (you know, the one that none of you are buying).

As always, enjoy!





Catsynth pics: Silicon Breakdown

Silicon Breakdown features the cat April programming a micromoog:

Small world; Silicon Breakdown performed at Woodstockhausen 2002, same year as my first appearance at the “tiny festival of esoteric music.” Check out the track Mutate from WSH 2002, which is part of their 2003 CD Green, available as freely downloadable mp3s.