Patterns + Pleasure Festival New Adventures in Live Electronic Music and Beyond Wed, 02 Nov 2011 11:30:14 +0000 en hourly 1 Wrapping it up Wed, 28 Sep 2011 22:01:34 +0000 Irina Read more]]> The last night of Patterns+Pleasure brought mind-blowing performances from artists across a wide range of musical (and not only) styles.

DJ Sniff opened the last night of music  with an explosive set of experimental ‘turntabelism’, playing everything from chopped-up beats and loops to pulsating textures.

Moldover was next on stage. He brought an eclectic mix of retro-sounding electric guitar, noisy electronical sounds made by his one and only ‘Mojo’ and some angry singing.

The third performance of the night – Tom Johnson and Gandini Juggling. Nine spheres of pure joy. Fourths of exuberance. Canons of wonder and magic. A universe of possibilities in the most severe of forms. The most obvious never before imagined.

And the last show of the night and the festival was Takuma Watanabe + Momo Yoshida + Tatsuhisa Yamamoto. Noisy jazz with a ‘love it or leave it’ kind of attitude: absolutely drop dead awesome and not a better possible ending for the festival.


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Analog chaos computers: introduction Wed, 28 Sep 2011 15:03:16 +0000 Christoph Read more]]> ‘Analog Chaos Computers’ is a workshop about building your own small analog chaos computer.

Analog computers have dominated the world of science of simulation and process control up until the mid-1960′s. They have mainly been used by scientists to calculate difficult differential equations.

But this is, of course, not what is going to be the goal of this workshop! Instead of solving equations, the circuits made in the workshop are going to produce sound and artworks.

The good thing about the analog computers is that they have scalable time. They can be slowed down enough to be hooked up to a xy-plotter (a mechanical drawing machine) or sped up into he audible range to be used as sound-generating devices.

Jessica Rylan, who is giving the workshop, starts out by showing some examples of ‘chaotic’ equations and circuits. Asked about her view on the difference between chaos and noise, she explains that both kind of look the same at first but in fact are pretty different: Noise is completely random, with no relationship between the past and the now. What happened in the past has no influence on what will happen next. Chaos, on the other hand, is a process with a connection between past and future, just so complex in its’ nature that it gives the illusion of being noise.

Next, Jessica gives a demo of the two designs that can be chosen from to be designed in the workshop. One circuit is for producing audio-signals, the other one for drawings in conjunction with the plotter. The second one can’t be used for audio, because it is running too slow to produce oscillations in the audible range.

For everyone not familiar with soldering, Jonathan Reus gives a short tutorial on how to do it. Now the group is ready to start building the circuits themselves!

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Celebration of DIY culture: Handmade music Wed, 28 Sep 2011 13:59:59 +0000 Irina Read more]]> Electronic noises from the most subtle and airy to the most harsh and loud ones fill the room with symphonic explosions as the last symposium of the festival starts. The symposium aims to celebrate the DIY culture and recognize some of the most innovative and bold hand-made sound-(and visuals)-generating instruments.

The host, journalist and digital musician Peter Kirn, gives a big hail to STEIM for encouraging this type of handmade music, as we give a big hail to these amazing inventors/composers. The stage has been transformed into a bustling and loud bazaar where the audience is invited to take a look (and take a listen!) at these marvelous inventions.

Next – individual performances of all artists and their instruments: Peter Kirn, Miguel Pipa, Rob Hordijk, Mathius Shadow-Sky, Matteo Marangoni, Claudia Robles Angel, Christian Fischer, Shingo Inao, Levy Lorenzo, Léon Spek, Ondrej Merta, Hans Leeuw.

Some of the instruments showcased during this session include:

Matteo Marangoni / Speaker Botz

Myster Mathius Shadow-Sky’s The Archisonic Lamp

Léon Spek’s Ferrophone & Sonoplotter

Christian Fischer’s Fruitilyzer - (the cucumber was the chosen star for today’s show)

And one of the most exhilarating performances of the session, Shingo Inao played his amazing Self-made original sensor instrument Tosso till its string broke. But that was definitely worth it if you ask the audience.

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Composing in Real-Time with Audiomulch Wed, 28 Sep 2011 12:34:55 +0000 Christoph Read more]]> The opening workshop of Day 3 was an introduction to the software ‘Audiomulch‘. The workshop was given by Audiomulch inventor and programmer Ross Bencina.

Audiomulch is an interactive musicians’ interface for computer. It is used for live performance, composition, and sound-design. The software uses a non-linear, ‘signal-flow’ approach with a patcher-style user interface. It can be combined with external instruments and hardware too.

A performance patch in Audiomulch consists of different effect devices (called ‘contraptions’) that are connected by virtual patch-chords in a patcher window within the program. In this way Audiomulch very much functions like a modular synth or standard (hardware) effect-boxes that are connected by cables and then run into a mixer or PA.

After installing the program and some audio-files on the participants’ laptops, it was time to make a first small performance patch! Making a patch is really straightforward: just grab an effect (in this case a sample-player) from Audiomulch’s browser, drag it into the patcher window and connect it to the virtual “output” device. The sound plays immediately. In Audiomulch all modules run at any time by default. You can toggle their audio on and off though. Some effects also sync to the global tempo of the current “song”, even between multiple instances of Audiomulch running on the same computer.

It is possible to record your performance from within the program and export the sound for further use.

The on-board effects range from the usual delays and flangers to really cool grain-synth and comb-filter effects that produce great textural sounds. All parameters in Audiomulch can be quick-assigned to a midi-controller, although Ross himself just uses a mouse most of the time.

To me the most impressive part of the software is the so-called ‘meta-surface’. The meta-surface lets you capture an infinite amount of snapshots from all settings of the devices currently used in a patch and recall them later. But instead of just recalling them it is possible to blend between the settings seamlessly creating great moving textures.

Audiomulch also handles external plugins and VSTs. You can also use live input from a microphone or other instrument instead of a file already on disk.

Audiomulch is mainly a tool for sound-design and live performance but also has some features that let you create more in the style of electronic dance music.


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Lunch concerts: FANFARE INSTRUMENTS & BLACK ZENITH Wed, 28 Sep 2011 12:26:33 +0000 Irina Read more]]> The concert played by STEIM Fanfare mixed the unique electronically enhanced sounds of the (what used to be) traditional marching band instruments with storytelling. Anne Parlevliet’s composition managed to explore the eclectic electro-marching band sounds of the youTuba, the MeRimba and the Drumus, in a melodic yet typical fanfare-like style while, at the same time, telling a story.

The second performance of this session, the one of Black Zenith (Brian O’Reilly & Darren Moore), brought something completely different, quite the opposite of the overly structured rhythms of the fanfare – chaos, noise and arresting visuals. The two artists were ‘playing’ analogue modular synthesizers, using dense sonic textures to generate live visuals and transform sound into image. A macro piece of work (in more than one way) called ‘Microsaccades’.

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Improvisation: PLAYING BY EAR Wed, 28 Sep 2011 09:35:04 +0000 Irina Read more]]> The first symposium of the day started, as usual, with an opening from STEIM director Dick Rijken who announced an inspiring session that would touch upon most of the topics that have been discussed during the past days. Among those, complexity and improvisation will be the focus of ‘Playing by ear’ symposium.

The theme of the discussion becomes relevant, according to Dick Rijken, in the context of today’s society/system, inside which we live without fully understanding it. Nevertheless, people live under the constant urge to control everything, to plan everything, to avoid risks and mistakes at all costs. But this is not the desirable situation and maybe it is time to look at improvisation not only as this “wacky thing that musicians do”, but as a common practice in our everyday life. This explains why the panelists invited for this session come not only from a musical background, but other fields as well, all bringing a different perspective to the topic of improvisation.

Some of the highlights of the symposium:

The first speaker of the day, Ton Korver, gave a general overview of improvisation in, among others, a social context, pointing out why it is better to improvise within groups of people rather than individuals.

Marcel Cobussen and Sharon Stewart engaged the audience into an amazing ‘deep listening’ experience. Sharon guided the audience into the process of morphing all our bodily senses into a profound listening trance, which started with the advice to take off our shoes, close our eyes and turn our awareness inside our bodies. The next steps involved visualizing the trajectory of sound inside our bodies and rechanneling our perception flows in a way that would allow us to register and digest sound with all our senses, ending with the audience coming down on stage and experiencing the meditative listening trance while walking as slowly as they can. In the meantime, Marcel’s voice filled the room (and our bodies). His inspiring speech touched upon 3 topics: thoughts on the significance of improvisation ( as the development of something new, as the acceptance of insecurity and as a space for music and social interaction); some thoughts on listening and finally  some thoughts on improvisation and the complexity of networks.

The first presentation after the break introduced the audience to ‘Bridges’, an audiovisual project curated by graphic designer Gerco Hiddink and Rutger Zuydervelt from Machinefabriek. The idea behind the project was inspired by a competition that Gerco Hiddink participated in which triggered the question: what happens with the process of producing a record if you reverse the order – start with the design and afterwards compose the music to go with the design? Intuitively, the focus on bridging the gap between music and design lead to the central metaphor and title of the project – Bridges. As for Rutger Zuydervelt, he brought the music component into Bridges, while trying to answer a different but related question:  What if we listen to our environment as music? So eight musicians were asked to react (separately) to field recordings (from the surroundings of bridges) and to use them as instruments to compose music which was afterwards mixed together with the original sounds. The four pieces were released on vinyl, with Gerco’s artwork (a remix of images of bridges) on the picture disc.


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Nina Boas: An Invitation into Unfamiliar Fantasies Wed, 28 Sep 2011 08:21:30 +0000 Valerie Read more]]> A life-size paper cut silhouette moving back and forth in front of a video projection, held by a woman dressed in black singing French pop songs, surrounded by an audience sitting on the floor: if you recognise this, you’ve just been to a Nina Boas performance.

Boas started her performance behind her desk, drawing a tiny female character on a piece of paper and then and cutting it out. This process is shown to the audience through an enlarged video projection on a screen in the centre of the stage. We see the female silhouette moving across the screen, until Boas folds the figure and abruptly rips it to pieces. A soft, subtle dream all of a sudden broke down into some sort of torture act.

The intimate setting in which Nina Boas performs gives her show a more personal atmosphere, as if the audience is invited to crawl inside Boas’ head and have a look at her most private fantasies and memories. The lyrics of her songs correspond to the fairy tale atmosphere. “Je me trouvé dans un forêt” (I found myself in a forest) and “Une corps de papier, mes chemise de papier” (A paper body, my paper blouse) are examples of Nina’s fantastical contemplations in words.

At the end of the show there was only one possible conclusion: We love Nina and the crazy world she let us explore.

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Alex Nowitz: Composing Interaction Wed, 28 Sep 2011 07:54:59 +0000 Valerie Read more]]> The final performance of this Tuesday evening was given by composer and voice artist Alex Nowitz. In a spectacular way he made the audience experience what it meant to have full control over your voice and how to explore your vocals and technical abilities.

Alex Nowitz brought two shows to the stage: the first piece was called ‘Minotaurus’, the second one was named ‘Shells’, after the musical instrument that he introduced, for the first time, to the audience in the Netherlands.

During the performance of ‘Minotaurus’ Nowitz used one of the instruments developed at STEIM – two electronical devices that the artist held in his hands, with which he could control in advance recorded sounds and noises. The devices also reacted and interacted with the movements of his body. His vocals imitated bird chirping, performed opera singing and let out grumbling moans. There was also some German poetry in between, that gave a strong existential feeling to the entire audio(visual) experience.

Then Alex Nowitz introduced us to Shells. Again, the instrument consists of two hand-controlled devices, with which Nowitzs can manipulate a series of pre-recorded noises and sounds. Interacting with his body’s movements, giving the audience something that could almost be called a contemporary dancing performance. When it comes to the sound, Shells has a whole new depth to it in comparison to the previous instrument. The sounds that Shells produces come forth at different tonal levels, penetrating and taking hold of the atmosphere even more than the former performance.

With his memorable performance, Alex Nowitz ended a memorable evening.

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JESSICA RYLAN: crazy electronics Tue, 27 Sep 2011 22:47:35 +0000 Irina Read more]]> Jessica Rylan is an “artist turned engineer”, as she describes herself. It is not surprising then that I found her making drawings with the X-Y plotter (driven by chaotic analog computer solving ) at the Frascati theater today, which you could (and should) have a look at if you’re planning to visit the Patterns + Pleasure Festival these days. As for her art, Jessica says her favourite thing is finding something new all the time, “it’s like the childish sense of discovery”. While she admires talented musicians who have that gift for playing (conventional) music, she thinks of herself as a different type of artist – the type that Steve Reich would choose for himself when saying that he’s not a virtuoso and has to compose music that he can play.

And that’s what she proved during tonight’s performance. Not the first one in the Netherlands, as she has been touring through Europe 6 years ago, but the first one in Amsterdam. While chatting with the audience before the show, she promises ‘crazy electronics, not the singer/songwriter’ version of herself, and so she introduces on stage the 3 handmade synthesizers. The show starts with soft minimalistic sounds slowly building up the tension to the point that the entire concert hall begins to vibrate under the pressure of the harsh, raw noise. The interplay between the synthesizers is something that escapes control and leads to chaos. An electrifying chaos that draws the audience into a spectacle of haphazard electrical roars and howls. The verdict – an offbeat performance that combined the rawness of the pure electrical sounds with the artist’s personal touch.


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Edison Tue, 27 Sep 2011 20:12:07 +0000 Sharon Read more]]> With cap on sideways and baggy shorts, which he directs our attention to, authentic hip-hop gear: “we’re all like that”, Edison brings us into an atmospheric synthesized loop. Here comes the funky drum beats. Warped orchestral bells provide the accent. He bends over his lunchbox controller, tapping and twisting. We get an explanation: “It’s a box with 64 buttons. They all have loops, but there’s nothing looping while I’m playing. This one makes them all stop, and these give effects on what’s goin on.”

He loads a new ‘song’ and begins to ‘play’: swinging stops and interceptions, stretching in syncopated phrases. Morphed synth organ sounds are choked, sucked back in. Prerecorded piano sample refracts, echos and fades out. ‘Convoluted, abstract’ is the name of the piece. Edison dances his music, swinging over the box: feet, body and soul. He’s short circuiting his own music. The lifts and suspensions are enough to make you feel like it’s you, at your best. He catches us by surprise with a fake ending. We fall for it. ”I’m gonna show you some technique. I’d just been bangin’ on and seein’ what happens. Then I developed this technique, which I’ll show you: melody with my ring finger, bass drum with my thumb, and the rest with these fingers”. He’s sweating and breathing hard into the mike after this number, joking with the audience that it’s harder than it looks.

The next piece is ‘my ex-fan Gary’. “A dude wrote me to tell me I’m immature, and sent this letter, signing it ‘your ex-fan, Gary’.” Next up is his punk rock number. “Punk rockers would not agree that is punk rock.” And finally, a number “Shadow Town” because his friend made a video with this title. His wife calls it “The Dance Song” and so everybody is invited to come down and hang out on the stage.

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