Monday, January 1, 2018

Frequency Modulation Radio, KPFA, Berkekely CA; 12/31/17

This really fun show started, for me, with an email to Thomas Dimuzio: I was trying to get Mika Pontecorvo's Terra Lingua CD to him for play consideration on his Sunday Night KPFA show. Thomas suggested that we join him and some others on New Year's Eve for a live Noise/Experimental throwdown. Naturally, Mika and I both accepted the offer!
On the short drive to KPFA from Richmond, I tried to recall the last time that I played a New Year's gig. 1997, I think, with Sex is a Witch at Lennon Studios in SF. Holy cow, if I wait another twenty years for one, I'll be past retirement age. I wonder, will I still be playing? Only time will tell.
On the note of time, the assembled nine players: Larry Thrasher, Jon Leidecker, Christina Stanley, Todd Mellors, Kris Force, Tania Chen, Thomas, Mika, and me, had less than an hour to find space within the already small studios, get comfy, and then hit. Tragically for me, when I plugged my mixer in, it was immediately fried. Jon saved my butt by letting me plug my three contact mics into his mixer. Without that help, I would have been unable to even participate. Thanks, Jon.
With three hours to fill, starting at 10 PM sharp, the group started pretty spare and sparse; I figure a lot of us hadn't played together, so there were those initial exploratory moves made. The best moments of the early going were ones in which the intensity rose, with cool interactions between violins from Kris and Christina, wailing guitar from Mika, abstract processing from Thomas, Todd, and Jon, and low end moves from Larry. I had fun playing my four piece rig: waterphone, Utopia Synth, 18" cymbal (cracked), and 14" inch gong.
The sounds broke at 11 PM for a brief station identification, after which most of the group dove back in. Some folks began to peel off in order to hang out and drink champagne. Being sort of stuck in my little space, and really wanting to take advantage of this great playing opportunity, I stuck within the sound mix. My recollection of this hour has my bowing the waterphone a lot, and really almost violently at that. Things got loopy and weird, that's for sure. I also recall seeing Thomas smile really big. Totally worth the effort, right there!
At midnight, we did a traditional countdown, after which everyone basically let their rigs feed back and scrawl. This was FUCKING INCREDIBLE. Absolute Noise orgasm time. Ah, hell yes, and Happy Goddamn New Year!
A few of us continued to jam until almost 1 AM; in this time frame, I jumped onto a mic and tried to give a brief eulogy for the recently passed z'ev, using some biographical info from a Discogs page about him. At 1:55, Jon L. took the sound out. A new DJ came in and played Reggae.
It was a great way to start 2018 off.
Many thanks to Thomas for including me, and to all the great players that made it such a wonderful event.

Below: my rig, stuffed into Studio A; Mika plays, Todd gives the Sign of the Hammer
Above: Kris bows; Thomas Dimuzio, joyous warrior of sound!

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