Seattle Improvised Music Festival Day 2

February 10th, 2007

Gallery1412, Seattle WA

Bonnie Jones, Jaime Potter, Kyle Bruckmann

The second night of the SIMF brought together the musicians from the previous night in different combinations. This ad hoc trio, like all of the groups from the night prior, played two pieces the first of which began with those deep layered bass drones that a clearly Potter’s area of concern. Bonnie pretty quickly adds to this snaps and crackles from her open circuits while Kyle, on electronics and oboe adds coloration. This first piece didn’t really transcend this throughout and was more of a droning piece. As this continued on it arrived at a pretty intense level which was interestingly brought to a halt near simultaneously.

Again following the trend set the night before the second piece was more spacious and interesting to me. Bonnie begins the proceedings with her contact mic which she uses quite a bit throughout this piece often to great effect rubbing it on the cement wall at several points layering gritty crunches of sound. Jamie works as usual with his low, beating tones but bring them in, letting them percolate for a while and then fading them out. Never quite developing into a drone, but adding texture and a visceral aspect to the more pointillistic excursions of his fellows.  In this segment Kyle is mostly utilizing his electronics in a pretty suble and additive way – tones that clash with Jaimie, sonic detritus and the occasional synth like squiggle and tones. Bonnie continues with the contact mic, now swinging it in the air with a bumping, wishing sound that was quite engaging espcially as it would occasionally bump its own cable unpredictably adding a spike of sound. Speaking of spikes Jaime during this bit lets his feedback slip out of his control into a piece tone that makes him wince as he quickly brings it down. Kyle’s electronics either accidentally or deliberately grab some radio which adds nicely into this more chaotic and unpredictable events that are taking place. As the piece winds down becoming even more sparse, Bonnie taps and rubs the contact mic on the desk she is sitting at and then Kyle throws in a fairly extended and fairly melodic oboe line. Jaime is playing more extended tones now and the clash of the oboe with this at certain times is truly captivating. The piece ends with just this long tone that Jaime slowly brings down.

This was a pretty good trio, always skirting the edge of droning but managing to break out of it. I appreciated how they played with events just on the edge of their control that occasionally would slip and add some unpredictability to the evening.

Kyle Bruckmann solo
As I reported yesterday I was really quite unfamiliar with Kyle prior to this weekend. He proved to be a versatile and quite interesting player even if all of the styles he works within aren’t my cup of whisky. So I was pretty curious about what he would do solo. This piece turned out to be a composed work that involved him playing along with tape. He would basically work with one sound or technique and then move on to another. This never came across as working through a catalog, but more as a series of movements in a greater whole. Each bit was pretty simple and the way it would work with the tape at times made it feel like early minimalism in a way with sounds and tones working with and against each other to create something greater then the sum of its parts. He stands on stage with only a chair, a couple of oboes and a microphone. He begins by just playing the middle section of an oboe with these long breathy, whistling sounds. This persists for a bit and its kind of hard to tell if they tape is adding too much at this point. Next up he plays and entire oboe but without the reed mainly key clicking and working with the body, but also blowing through it generating fairly squawky sounds. A short pause and he grabs a much larger oboe, complete with reed, which he does a lot of tongue stops, wet sounding, skronky type stuff. More of this with a smaller oboe, generating higher tones and squeals. Then an interlude which is primarily the tape that is quite noisy and active and not very oboe sounding. During this he sits and cleans all of his instruments.  The piece concludes with a recording of a single oboe tone that he matches with his own creating a swell of sound that was very Niblock-esque. Really a great ending to a piece that I found surprisingly engaging.

A version of this piece has been recorded as Gasps & Fissures, which I picked up after this set and have found well worth my time.

Bonnie Jones, Andy Hayleck

This was the set I had been most looking forward to this first weekend of the festival and I was not disappointed. Bonnie was using the same setup from earlier this evening and Andy was utilizing his PowerBook via a Wacom tablet along with a cymbal contact mic’d up. Again two pieces the first of which was quite spare reminding me at times of Good Morning, Good Night, with quiet clicks, pops, tones and hums. Bursts of static would cut through then back off, to be met with the strangled bleats of short circuits and inadvertently triggered filter sweeps and such. Andy never touches the cymbal during this piece simply manipulating his PowerBook throughout. However with its contact mic he could have been using it as a sound source and manipulating that into the bursts of sound he was putting out. From this initial sparse territory things did become denser if not much louder toward the middle of the improvisation. But this wasn’t a trend and they soon returned to spacious placing of sounds they had begun with and which brought the piece to a close.

After the first piece Andy and Bonnie look at each other in that negotiating whether they are done sort of way. After a bit of this Kyle says from the audience “of course you are going to play more” to which Bonnie responds, “Well if Kyle Bruckman says so” and she starts it off with a subtle hiss. This piece was if anything even more sparse then the previous, avoiding some of the density that that one attained at times. Andy would drop in short samples of field recordings – a rainstorm, people talking (or was that outside?) and other unrecognizable industrial and natural sounds. Only at the end of this piece did the density increase, the level brought up with a long continuous tone from Bonnie to which Andy layers on either live or sampled crunching, cranking sonic textures. He cuts this out shortly leaving just Bonnie’s tone which she quickly backs off. Really a great piece, with nothing overbearing, lasting long enough to matter but never droning on and on. A great end to a nice weekend of music. A very nice recording of these two was available at the show which I wholeheartedly recommend:
Bonnie Jones & Andy Hayleck – duet.

Throughout this weekend I got to talk a bit with Andy, Kyle and Bonnie all of whom I found very warm and interesting. Andy an Bonnie were playing some shows in Portland and Vancouver before coming back the next week, this time as audients. I was able to pick up quite a bit of CDs from all of the performers at the show a number of which have been great music. Always worth doing this as the musicians gain the most from these sales.