LOCATION: Pioneer Works BK.NY
SUBJECT: Issue Project Room Showcase
The fabulously diverse assortment of this night's music reminds me why I've been a supporting member of Issue Project Room for years now. Despite how eclectic the sets were, they all shared a similar vein of extremism, but couldn't be more different in their execution.
Horse Lords kicked it off with a rockist gut-punch. Their instrumental math rock owes as much to Terry Riley and classical minimalism (on amphetamines) as it does to Don Caballero. As thrilling as their set was, in retrospect my only complaint is that they violated a certain curatorial purity the rest of the night maintained: largely electronic solo artists. Those artists came in startlingly wide varieties, but outside this first set, there was a sort of unity to it.
Ben Vida, an artist I've followed since his days in Chicago's Town and Country, turned in a mind-altering set of modular synthesis (a mode he's been working in for a number of years now). His work in this field, that many can veer towards faceless and sterile, always manages to come off as playful and irreverent (but never naive or juvenile).
Greg Fox, formerly the drummer of the death metal band Liturgy, followed with a solo percussion set. He was beta testing a new software, Sensory Percussion. It (seemed) to act as a live sound processing unit, allowing him to add a different effect to each piece of his kit—or have those drums trigger samples. There also seemed to be a theremin-esque motion sensor element to it, as I swear I saw him triggering sounds without touch the drum set. Overall it was a bit clunky, but he's still a mightily impressive drummer to witness and I'm sure the software (and his skill with it) will improve.
The middle portion of the night was given over to two female acts (a not insignificant point considering what a boys-club electronic and noise music can be). I had only read about Eartheater but still had little idea of what to expect. Her set was confrontational, steering sometimes more towards performance art. I feel like I'll have to acquaint myself with her music more as was hard to fully process. MV Carbon is a long-time friend of Issue Project Room, so I've seen her perform a number of times, but this was the first one I really took note of. Seasick electronics and amplified scrap metal with the occasional vocal line dredging along the bottom of a sound swamp.
Container looped the energy of the room back around to the beginning of the night. His industrialized techno minimalism got the crowd full of tragically hip kids actually shuffling. It turned into an actual dance party when Eartheater came out to the audience to promote some actual hip shaking. Container's degraded sound works best at volume. At some point, I stepped to the back of the room, and while still good, it wasn't nearly as impressive without concussive force.
I actually bailed before the last set by Daniel Menche. This wasn't a judgement—I've not actually heard his music before—but I'd been hanging out at Pioneer Works for 5+ hours and was a getting a tad peckish, so opted to shuffle off.
NOTES: Horse Lords; Ben Vida; Greg Fox; Eartheater; MV Carbon; Container; Daniel Menche