STEIM hosted the 6th edition of Turntable Music Night featuring Otomo Yoshihide, Luc van Weelden / Fedde ten Berge and dj sniff.
Setup of the night with 7 turntables and lots of gadgets (photo by Dick Rijken)
The afternoon started with Luc and Fedde’s duo. Setting up from the night before, they had carefully put together an impressive spread of lego robotic turntable arms, hacked turntables and mixers, cut-up records, arduino controllers, midi controllers and video cameras. Their playing moved between composed and improvised moments, generating mostly synthetic sounds with loose rhythmic structures emerging from the seams of the cut-up records or the automated robot arm. Also adding live video processing and 4 ch sound, their performance was full of sensory stimulation.
Luc and Fedde’s robotic turntable arm and cut-up record (photo by Dick Rijken)
Self-built faderboard to control the robot needle and the speed of the turntable. When the resistance to the turntable pitch control is too low, the platter starts to freak out, moving back and forth randomly (photo by Dick Rijken)
Luc and Fedde represent a new bread of artist emerging from the Netherlands, who cross between technology, sound art, composition and performance with a breeze. Perhaps one can draw a linearity in Dutch electronic arts from Dick Raaijmakers – Edwin van der Heide – Telcosystems to these young artists. Both graduating from the HKU (Utrecht School of the Arts) in music technology, Luc works as an independent artist and programmer and Fedde is pursuing his Master’s degree at the Sonology department in The Hague.
Fedde ten Berge and Luc van Weelden
One thing I missed from their performance was more detail in each of the elements. The sound textures and spacialization could have been tighter, the visuals were sometimes not effective, and more play could have happened between the two performers. I really look forward to how they will continue to develop this performance.
After a short break, Otomo came on. He started with very harsh feedback generated by adding cymbals on top of the needle. From there he gradually introduced low tones, hisses and rhythmic objects rotated on the platter. No sounds from the record were played. What struck me was that he was a master at “push and pull.” It seemed like he knew exactly where the threshold was in the room and in the ears were to emphasize the next sound he was going to play. The low hum from the Fender amp that came in after the piercing feedback tone was one of the most beautiful moments in his set.
Otomo creating feedback by adding different size objects (photo by Dick Rijken)
Otomo is without a doubt the most active and respected improviser from Japan today. His work extends beyond just experimental and improvised music, but also into jazz, pops, sound installation and sound track for TV / film. What seems to define him is not so much about musical styles but the seriousness and focus he brings to each project. As a turntablist he rarely plays records anymore, although he told me in the early 90’s he would tour with 100 records. After his collaboration with Martin Tetreault form the late 90’s his approach has focused more on the materiality of the turntable itself. He is an important reference to younger turntablists like Arnaud Rivéra, Ignaz Schick and BusRatch.
when he does play records, they’re usually not played as they should be. (photo by Dick Rijken)
Without much pause after his solo set, we played a duo. I had played with him for the first time last November in a trio, but was still quite nurvious until we did our 5 minute sound check together. It was enough time to agree upon textures and how we listen, and the rest was for figuring out later. For me it was very comforting to be assured that he is a highly reflective and responsive player. I felt good playing the 25-30 minute duo, although there were moments where the flow could have been better and tighter. I hope to play with him again.
Feeding the performers some asian grub at the afterparty
The goal of Turntable Music Night is to introduce the broader practice of experimental turntablism through both establish and up and coming musicians. I wish to do at least 10, and feature more digital approaches and hip-hop influenced styles. Stay tuned!