Photo by Kenneth Rivenes.
Did lo-fi shows
with lots of new materials and beautiful guests at Bastant
soup-bar. A report!
Haven't done experimental shows for some time, I missed trying out new ideas and observing how material behaves on stage compared to studio (or inside my head). I have been and will be working much more with Catalonian choreographer and dancer Nuria Guiu Sagarra, she participated on text and vocals. Also my accomplice on strings Thomas T. Dahl joined on guitar and electronics.
First we did a 30 minute Nebular Spool
show, which worked surprisingly well. I stripped down a bunch of new Nebular Spool material to give room for all of us to improvise and build individual material live during the performance. We asked the audience if they could be quiet, a first for me in this context. We're experimenting with whispering voices and softly spoken text. The music is dynamic, moving from almost silent soundscapes to speaker-busting beats. Loudness maximizers are the new Myspace.
We built conceptual, textual and sonic landscapes, scattered with segments of glitchy rhythms and stronger melodies. I really liked this, gliding between properly structured harmonic music with clearly defined beats, sequences, towards drifting landscapes, free parts, supporting and/or contrasting the text. And subtle, blurry visuals on the window behind us. Nuria is captivating, she has a fantastic peculiar voice, I loved working with both our voices, slowly and subtly, processing and sampling stuff in realtime, improvising not only with sounds but with words.
People were really quiet and concentrated, neat.
Photo by Kenneth Rivenes
After Nebular Spool, we had a short break, grabbing a micro-brewed beer or two, before Thomas and me happily conquered one of the most fun Ugress live shows we've done in years. It was not quiet anymore. We tried a bunch of new tracks, we relaxed surfing old hits, we skipped the too-hitsy hits, we messed up rare tracks, we broke a speaker, we battled solos, we spaced out, we sat on chairs with energy.
I was satisfied trying out some new Ugress material coming up for release soon. Works.
For both shows I experimented using two laptops, one regular providing live instruments, live processing, visuals, backing stems, the hub. The other, which is usually just a backup, was still a backup but now running a matrix of loops, sfx and preproduced material I could manipulate and bring in/out/up/down, for further processing on the main machine, or send to the OP-1 for sampling. That worked really well, especially for Nebular Spool.
Also integrated the Teenage Engineering OP-1 better, before I never felt I really used it, but for Nebular now I used it properly. Both for playing and manipulating the internal synthesis sounds in realtime. The sound of the unit itself suits Nebular Spool. Also used it to live-sample Nuria and myself and then play and process our voices directly on the unit or further on the main laptop. Needs a bit more experience to be smooth but concept works and fits my needs.
Had the bunch of usual suspects laptop controllers, and a pair of Wii remotes. I appreciate this setup because everything sort of fits in a backpack, easy to move around, flex and area efficient for small stages, and the Wiis make it possible to detach far from the laptops. I didn't at Bastant because we sat, but usually I move around a lot at times. Laptops prefer staying still. Wiimotes makes us both happy.
For visuals, we used projectors and cameras and painted the windows with sour milk.
My megalomaniac idea was to project realtime GoPro cameras of us performing, onto the window behind us, in a sort of endless loop, as demonstrated above. The projector placed here (below) and projecting on the window in the background, where the "stage" and cameras would be.
And then a separate projector or two delivering synchronized visuals thrown on top, but we ran out of time and space. So there was just regular visuals, but still, they WERE on sour milk, expertly painted by Nuria.
I ran out of organization time setting up all the cameras/projectors, mostly because of streaming issues.
There was a huge pipe or some kind of kryptonite wall (red) by the intended position (x) for projector and cameras and streaming laptops, interfering the wi-fi. So cruel, the work of men, building houses. I tried hacking up a temp solution closer to the stage (left) and used mobile dial-up for streaming. According to the Ustream control panel that one was actually streaming, but I hear reports it did not.
Anyway for both shows I tried new visuals for a couple of tracks, and the projecting-on-sour-milk-window worked kind of nice; it gave a soft blur to the videos, and you could watch everything happening from the outside and inside. For Nebular the soft blur really worked well, and I used less "hectic" visuals than for Ugress.
New Things We Tried
- Nuria Guiu Sagarra - works
- Sat down while performing, worked in this context
- Asking for silence, got it, worked
- Live processing and sampling of vocals, promising
- I did vocals, that could work, needs more polish/talent
- Thomas played electronics, works
Stuff That Didn't Work
- Projecting live video onto itself, didn't even get there
- Streaming, don't think so
- Documentation, didn't have time to setup cameras
Critical stuff worked, non-critical did not. As always, ran out of time. Musical success, graphics valuable experience, streaming appearant fail. This correspondent had a really great time. It was lo-fi, intimate, quiet, packed, loud, great.
Everyone that showed up and created a magic atmosphere, and valuable feedback afterwards. Nuria and Thomas. B for projector, BEK for advice, cabling, sour milk tricks. Birk for GoPro hacks and HDMI tricks. Kenneth for photos. And finally, most important; Bastant for inviting us and providing space, sour milk, enthusiasm and eternal patience with megalomaniac ideas in a top wonderful soup bar.