ADAB @ Neon Falls, Have Known 1/5/2018

Here we have an absolutely killer techno set. Saw this one live in the flesh here in Chicago and I was pretty floored, especially given the probability of seeing a totally meh techno set in a big pseudo-warehouse space with concrete floors. ADAB hails from Cleveland and helps organize the Heaven is in You party at Now That’s Class, very likely a party worth checking out if you’re in the good old CLE. The party put together a comp a couple of years back that has some real Cleveland heavy hitter on it, like Forest Management and Glacial 23.

The Neon Falls party is pretty excellent! It’s organized by dynamic duo Glenna Fitch who DJs as SOLD and Alex Bond, who has been spinning recently as Hi-Vis. This incarnation was especially primo, and it’ll be very exciting to see how the party continues to develop in its second year.

This video was shot by Erica Gamble.


Wish Fulfillment @ House of Heavy Petting, 12/28/2017

You could have caught me back in 2013 trashing Eurorack culture (especially at that inevitable moment in the middle of the 6-hour long module demo set when some switch was flipped and the 4/4 kick started) and I’ll be damned if you still do not want to get me started on it today.* But sometimes you actually see a damn musician use one of these things and it’s pretty fucking magnificent.

Here we have beloved Chicago scene presence Tim Nordberg presenting a smokin’ hot modular synth composition under his Wish Fulfillment project. Tons of open space that wonderful tension between slow, wistful melody and machine freaking. Kinda one of those you’ll just have to listen to it sets, so go for it. TN was involved with the Rubicon space down in Pilsen while it was open, and is often seen around town working sound and making other people’s DJ sets pop.

This video was shot by Erica Mei Gamble at a show organized by Ben Baker Billington.


*If you want to get me started, get in the Cafe Chat.

Groove du Jour: Sick Live Video Artists Pt. 1

Today’s Groove du Jour focuses on some really exciting people making what are often dubbed “live visuals.” It’s a funny term (like, sure we call stuff we smell smells but uhh…) and who knows when it even entered the lexicon, since projections during music have been happening since at least the original hippie moment when liquid light shows were very much so a thing.

Anyway, here are some really good video artists jamming around the wider American experimental scene. This post focuses on some of the fresher faces, and is kind of limited to a certain broad genre of music. Would love to get some videos up here of projections from dance parties and raves, so hopefully that’s part 2. Without further ado:

Christine Janokowicz aka armpitrubber

Christine Janokowicz is a video artist based in Chicago and does a pretty amazing job with a cobbled together array of video synths and computer tools. She’s been all over the local scene recently, lending some psychedelic delights to many of the musicians in the Hausu Mountain nexus. Venomenema is her AV project with Max Allison aka Mukqs. First video courtesy of Erica Mei Gamble.

Angel Marcloid

The last video in the previous entry contains contains very similar imagery to that used in videos Angel Marcloid made to play during her Fire-Toolz live sets. While AM doesn’t really make video work for anyone else, it’s very much so worth highlighting the work she makes for herself. You can see a lot of it posted on the Fire-Toolz YouTube channel. Super wild glitched out vaporwave collage vibes there. AM is also based in Chicago.

Continue reading Groove du Jour: Sick Live Video Artists Pt. 1

Fire-Toolz @ The Empty Bottle, 11/16/17

Fire-Toolz is a lot of things: vaporwaved nü metal, bionic id, industrial jazz fusion, a reliable source for videos of a CGI baby going in and out of a womb. It’s also the most fully conceived project from the hyper prolific Angel Marcloid, formerly Pregnant Spore and proprietor of the Rainbow Bridge label. Fire-Toolz sets and albums are equally high-production-value affairs, with a savvy sense of structure and more stimulation than an audience could possibly ever crave.

This video is from the Fire-Toolz album release show at the Empty Bottle, for the tape Interbeing. It came out right around the same time as a new release by AM’s vaporwave project ᴡ ᴇ в s ɪ ᴛ ᴇ ツ and precedes another Fire-Toolz LP coming out later this year, which itself follows an Angelwings Marmalade release. Additionally, Suite 309 just put a Fire–Toolz remix tape.

This video was shot by  Erica Gamble.


Viszk @ Savage Weekend VI, 5/14/2016

Savage Weekend what a scene! Ok, this video is older than what we typically post, but Jill Lloyd Flanagan aka Forced Into Femininity suggested checking this one out and it is an absolute must. Viszk works through this physical crescendo, her body slowly revealing itself as possessed. The dirt she flails in really sells this as an affecting, off-putting performance. Also, love those boy band headset mics.

Not a lot of information about Viszk online aside from her first name (Eli) and her location in Chapel Hill, NC where Savage Weekend takes place. There is a Viszk SoundCloud, but it seems to exist wholly to remind that the actual Viszk experience is live.

This video was shot by Andrew Chadwick.


Inclusions @ Heavy Petting, 7/21/17

Jazz, baby! Inclusions has an interesting take on free jazz, in line with the compositional strain of the genre that was really Ornette Coleman’s wizardly innovation. No free funk here though, just beautifully structured post-post-post-post-bop blessed with savvy Sun Ra influence, melody, and bursts of atonality. Where’s the album, guys?

Inclusions features two members of ADT — Carlos Chavarria on sax, Adam Tramposh on keys — plus Scott Dunkerly on drums and Jeff Wheeler on baritone guitar.

The video was shot by Erica Gamble at show organized by Jeff Wheeler.


Crank Sturgeon @ Art Rat Studios, 7/8/2017

Actually, choosing a Crank Sturgeon video to post is incredibly difficult. Probably worth doing a whole post on his stuff, but for the time being here’s Crank in full freak mode last summer. Probably the master of the contact mic, Crank uses it here to trigger a series of little gadgets and capture his strange whistling, breathing, and words. A+ slapstick here, what with the big belly and the pants falling down.

Crank Sturgeon, for me at least, is who comes to mind when I think New England freak scene. He’s a constant well of creative performance ideas and resourcefulness for wringing noise from this or that old thing. First time I saw him, he had stretched out many feet of packing tape and was playing it like some big string instrument.

Be sure to check out Crank’s website, which is a total assault on the sense and also where you can buy the very excellent contact mics that he builds.

This video was posted by sacredeyecon, shot during AfterMAF 2017 at Art Rat Studios in Roanoke, VA.


Ana Roxanne @ Betalevel, 10/21/2017

Look at this audience rapt, totally lost in those slow motion waves projecting from the screen. You know how  hard it is to get every single person in the room on board for something so mellow, so meditative. But you can hear how still everyone is when Ana Roxanne takes a break to grab a beer. They’re waiting.

AR’s Bandcamp contextualizes the Los Angeles musician’s approach: “southeast asian devotional music. an offering to the romantics, spirit people, and the great R&B divas of the 20th century.” But it doesn’t speak to the way that sounds get melt into each other, differentiating themselves as frays in this continuous, flowing fabric of drones and long-held vocal tones.

This video was shot and edited by The Royal Academy of Nuts and Bolts.


Where Does Mental Health Fit in a Music Scene?

Gemini, born Spencer Kincy, is one of Chicago’s all time finest house producers. Given the mixes of his floating around the web, he was one of the genres most singular DJs too.

Yet, it’s been over 15 years since Kincy has had anything to do with music.

Local house music publication 5 Magazine published a series of articles a few years back about the strange fact that Gemini records were getting repressed at a pretty rapid clip, while Kincy himself had basically vanished from the scene. The last traces of him were paranoid fits of accusations against fellow house DJs, and a series of lawsuits raised against the likes of the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Justice.

Per a 2012 article, “I tracked down Spencer Kincy to an SRO hotel in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Though I haven’t been able to confirm his location in the past year, it seems likely he’s still in the area – and still in the same state. The moment was fairly painful for a longtime admirer; suffice to say that Spencer was not in any mind to DJ or make music and seems to care little about either.”

Spencer Kincy’s story resonates with a common one that you can come by any time, in any place, in any music community. Everybody is together doing their thing, and then one day someone drops out. Sometimes that person is sorely missed and sometimes that person doesn’t leave on good terms. Perhaps this person gets effectively forgotten about for several years until some music gets re-released, or we see some posts on a new Facebook account, or hear some bad news.

Continue reading Where Does Mental Health Fit in a Music Scene?

Treating PTSD (on an Artist’s Budget)

This is part of a series on mental health and well-being in the music scene.

Put simply, PTSD makes life harder to live. In our cultural imagination, it’s often associated with troops who witnessed something heinous on the battlefield. Starting with the classification of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the DSM–III — the 1980 edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s main toolkit for cataloging and diagnosing mental disorders — the mental health establishment started to recognize the psychiatric impact of traumatic events. “Battle fatigue” morphed into something the American medical establishment considered treatable.

If you’re interested in reading about the DSM–V’s criteria for PTSD you can read about it on the US Department of Veterans Affairs site. You’ll find that the current criteria is really geared towards people who have lived through a specific traumatic event. This criteria doesn’t necessarily account for the effects of trauma sustained over a period of time, such as sustained child sexual abuse, long-term domestic abuse, or years of experiencing intense homophobia or transphobia.

This guide will cover two forms of PTSD and discuss treatment of each. At the end, are some resources for finding mental health professionals.

It may seems peculiar for a music publication to cover a topic like treating PTSD. While there absolutely no reason to believe that PTSD affects musicians disproportionately from the rest of the population, the fact of the matter is that trauma can be so much of what drives a person to lose them, her, or himself in music or a music scene and that, conversely, a music scene can lead directly to trauma, be that by sexual violence, drug abuse, or something catastrophic like the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland.

So while musicians are likely not disproportionately afflicted by PTSD, musicians are nonetheless affected.

What is the nature of your trauma?

PTSD takes two main forms.

The first is the kind we think of when we think about soldiers, EMTs, and natural disaster survivors. This is PTSD as outlined in the DSM–V and is very much so incident based.

Continue reading Treating PTSD (on an Artist’s Budget)