Sunday, February 24, 2013

Show Review: Pre-International Noise Conference, Anti-Superbowl Extravaganza @ Venture Compound

[Editor's Note: This review was kindly filed by Guest Blogger David Z. Morris, who is the author of _Blown Horizons, Incidental Notes on Psychedelic Noise, Abstract Rap, and other Music that Will End Your Mind_. [Link]. He has written for Maximum Rock 'n Roll, Tinymixtapes, The Japan Times, and Signal to Noise. He can be followed on Twitter at: davidzmorris. The pictures are completely out of synch with the text (mea culpa) if anyone can ID the bands, I'll caption the pix.

Why, yes, Editor's Note, I am a super fancy writer with all kinds of neat ideas and a kickass command of English. I'm also The Minister of Disinformation (or on the resume I'll soon be using to turn the sweat and pasion of a few lusty indie kids into a cush, professional career change for myself, Communications Director) for the Venture Compound (VC). So it is a conflict of interest that I'm about to write a review of the VC's February 3rd show in advance of Miami's International Conference? To be honest, I never understood that term -- conflict of interest? I think the VC and everything we do there is fantastic.

 So I would say that as I write an upbeat review of our most recent show, my interests are perfectly aligned. This show, then, was the greatest thing of all time,  including what was the second greatest piece of performance art of the day (after Ray Lewis pretending to love God). But if you didn't make it, you can read this review and it will be just as if you missed an event that you later heard was fantastic and started feeling bad about yourself as a person, because, let's be real, you were either sitting on the couch eating potato chips or god forbid, TAKING CARE OF YOUR KIDS. Sad.
 [Editor's note: Longest fkn intro for a blog post ever?]

When I got there, Abstract Machine was warming up the crowd with his take on blown-out R&B crooning. He didn't seem to appreciate it when I compared his work to (the admittedly slightly more self-important) Dress Well, but he is sure to please well when he appears again to sex you at VC's Soft Openings show and concert on Feb 14th. He was followed by rap act Direwood, a strange sight at VC and anything noise related, you might say, but as a hip-hop/psych kid myself, I' love to see more like this: The minimal and blown out beats were perfect, though it was sometimes hard to tell if the hardcore vocals were satirical or not. Either way, in the era of A$AP and Kanye sampling King Crimsom on "Power", we're beyond any sense of mystery at the junction between hip-hop and experimental music.

Author David Z. Morris
The show worked to honor the tradition of walk-ons at the INC main event in Miami, and featured a couple of surprise appearances, one by an angular, arrhythmic, No Wave duo calling themselves "Superbowls", followed by Lesbian Bed Death, despite the name a much gentler array ofmiced music boxes and Tibetan singing bowls for a drifting, evocative set.

 Team Venture's half-time commercials did not disappoint. There was a (shocking! Controversial!) spot for the Soft Openings show. There was a plug for an upcoming tour by VC mainstays Nequam Sonitus (on whom more in a moment). And finally, there was a mind-blowing spot for the evening's sponsor, St. Pete CommunityAcupuncture.

The post-halftime music included crushing, jagged slide manipulations from John Freda, spare, bleak sounds from Sattelite's David De Freda, and Hellgarbage juxtaposing werewolf angst with the theme from `995's John Madden NFL for Sega Genesis. There were two big highlights for me. First, The Explanation's Point is easily the most visionary act making regular appearances at VC. This one man army of propulsive krautrock spurted Magma and Rush filtred through a decade of analog tape decay and terminally loaded synapses, crammed the angry, crystalline sounds of  a Duran Duran album into Philip Glass' most recursive, echoing glories made the delicate power of a Japanese gamelan orchestra into something otherworldly. It all shimmered and shook as the man behind the drum kit swung his mallets in a trance, divining beats and aching heavenly melodies.

Then there was the dark horse, then to-me-unknown-until now Mark Castle. His Teutonic Dance-pop might have initially seemed out of place at a noise show too, but it's actually a great illustration of the common thread that binds artists across genres that are less important than a deeper sense of common purpose. Castle is a death-disco ice-queen backed by frigid and uncaring industrial house, his forebears not Cher or Abba, but Grace Jones and Miss Kittin. his songwriting is razor sharp, his drums sharp and motoric, and his arch persona simply hilarious.

Nequam Sonitus
But if this was the Superbowl, there had to be a winner, right? At VC on Sunday, that winner was clearly Nequam Sonitus, a duo who have spent years at USF and and around St. Pete stitching together noise and performance art. On Sunday, they took things to a whole new level. The performance centered on a menacing black alien rampaging through the VC, its destructive tendencies treated to close micing and subjected to electronic transformation. Then, in a new twist, this creature broke loose from the VC and wandered into the surrounding industrial realm. Members of the audience followed the figure as ifas if Andy Kaufman were taking them out for milk and cookies, but in this case they were wondering where the crazed beast would turn next to slake his thirst for...blood, I guess? But instead, out he factories and darkness of South St Pete, a pale man in a dark pick-up truck pulled up to confront the unchained beast, herding it carefully back under cover, with the noise of the confrontation all the while back to the Compound, back into punishing walls of purple tinted static that spilled into the night.

It's hard to capture the tension and surprise of this kind of lived experience, but the performance was one of the most amazing things I've seen in a long while. That moment was, I think, was well worth the work that so many have put into bringing people together at VC. There are things happening at this scrappy little space that are not to be missed. Leave the kids at Grandma's and get the fuck down here.

By David Z. Morris.

[A special note of gratitude to Guest Blogger David Z. Morris. He is welcome to file a review here anytime. --- Luis]


No comments:

Post a Comment