Pigtown Scratchings is an occasional multidisciplinary event in Limerick, created by science and music collaboration Softday. Last week I headed down for Lyric’s Culture File, to speak to some of the multidisciplinary artists featured in this years event.
NO EXPRESSION, EYES OPEN, SLOW
NO FEELING, EMPTY, SLAVE
1 – Electric awaken
2 – Rise, slowly painfully
3 – Crawl to feet
4 – Splash alive
5 – Trudging walk
6 – Slow pickup case
7 – Ride invisible train
5 – Smash with hammer
6 – Knocked back by an invisble wave
7 – Collapse
8 – REPEAT 1 to 7
9 – Hanging / rope break
10 – death
When Sebastian Dooris asked me to help him with one of his ‘projects’, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I had recently been knocked down, pushed off a forty story building and shot through the heart.
Seb and Emma Injection make up the experimental musical duo ‘Deathness Injection’. Improvising each ferocious new performance, the pair don outrageous costumes, dual theramins, and fuse industrial beats with pedalled improvisation. They perform on beeches, in art centres or abandoned space, sometimes with fellow noise makers like Luxury Mollusc, occassionally with hundreds of passers by. Now me, I’m about as musical as a puppys snore. Luckily Deathness Injection didn’t want me to play with them, they wanted me to dance.
I didn’t let my lack of formal training, or the fact that I’ve never danced in public slow me for a second. I realised I had everything needed for such a performance. Cycling thighs, a house mate with a bachelors degree in special effects make up, and no shame what so ever.
My inspirations – Beckett’s Catastrophe, Bob From Twin Peaks, and Oliverier de Saganzan, whose 2008 piece ‘surmodelage du crâne et de la face’ is the number one hit when you google ‘French performance artist’. The obvious ridiculousness of a middle aged man wigging and twitching to improvised industrial noise music, only increased the appeal. regieme
I begin to craft a skull cap, a waxy nub to keep my hair clean during my on stage transformation. I ordered a silver one piece suit from the internet, that would faile to arrive in time – decreasing the shiny strippyness of my planned denoutement. I began a regieme of physical training, cycling daily around the Pheonix park, dilligently entering all meals into MSN diet tracker.
Phase 2 – Transformation and rejection
1 – Rise with new life
2 – Discover brief case
3 – Worship / find solace in case
4 – Meet audience eyes
5 – Open case – HANGING OVER (pushup, crawling in)
6 – Build face – hiding in case – ORGASMIC – SLOW – MOVING and crawling
7 – Start with beak – rolling eyes
8 – Moaning / uncovering
8 – PAINT face – with hands
9 – Self discovery / celebration – BEND BACK – RISE with awkwardness
10 – New Body – Animation dance
11 – REJECTION – quivering fear walk – Tormented by music
12 – Cowering – invisible box
12 – collapse
13 – On back limb writhing
14 – Fight to rise – stand
15 – Cruicified
In the video of our first rehearsal, I’m visibly nervous, pacing about in a Trinity FM hoody, awkwardly making shapes. Little did I realise how a mere month of rehearsals will build from this quivering flesh a transfiguring artist.
Private parties, crustie hippies in their water logged mountain idyls growing vegetables, juice and credibility – not so much bugging out as tuning out, turning off and plugging out. Their music an ironic mix of 90’s hardcore, high BPM industrial techno and Bauhasian baroque retro classics.
Somewhere between a large house party and a small festival, Species Gothic Arts and Culture Gathering – wilfully hidden in the Leitrim mountains, is part of a new breed of curated parties. Not quite the debauched bacchanal of the 90’s rave scene, neither the security heavy Disnified boutique festivals that have sprung up on the wake of the death of Oxygen: Vantastival, bestival, Knock * Stocking – for every one of these mini festivals there are a douzen events like this. New age hippies, crusties and outsiders coming together to make psychedelic art, play their music ear bleedingly loud abd wear their freakiest clobber. Performers include Tragedy Vampires, Sugarplum Suicide, Kraven Brainz, DJ Fracture, Burden, DJ Flesh, Venus De Vilo, Last Bus to Nowhere, Bending Wrongs, Fallen Demon.
Phase 3 – Persecution and Assimilation
GRADUALLY BECOME MONSTER
1 – Shake off / break off face
2 – Sliding feet leg invert
3 – Hand across face to reveal expressions
4 – Lapping and suckling / abjection
5 – Feet together move top waving plant – Bob
6 – Lick and creep forward in one place – predated to predator
8 – Trusting legs in place
9 – Slow lurking walk – Pappa Lazaru
10 – Hands over head – Guermo Del Toro
11 – Shit on case
12 – Molest and consume case
13 – Engage audience
14 – Start to suffer
15 – Calcify
16 – Breaking and slowing and crumpling
17 – Can’t reach the case – fighting the seizure
18 – Horrible realisation and standing – this is real
We are deluged of course – what else in early May Ireland. Everywhere tents collapse like soufflés or blowing away all together in the gale force wind. We congregate in a corrugated shed plastered with Halloween themed folk art. A shrine to Wednesday Adams & Cthulhu shares wall-space with a Rubenesque blacklight water nymph and a two tone skull gobbling Laverne wood cut.
After civilisation collapses we’ll all live like this – small clumps of sustainable humanity hammering club thumpers into the encroaching night. The rolling hills of Leitrim are an ideal location for this kind of escapist awakening. The moss eroded walls of ancient small holdings climbing erosion rent hills of gorse and bracken. Old polymorphous woods concealing fairy secrets and freudian sins.
The outskirts of Leitrim are one of those places, like Waterford and Kinvara, where Britain’s new age travellers settled in large numbers as the UK grew rabbidly intolerant of their wandering ways. All across Ireland little enclaves of second and third generation hippie kids have grown up, fertilising the local arts scene.
King of the mountain is Illiocht O’Brainz, a dread locked Irish American clad in a kilt, Dennis the Menace jumper with a storm cape thrust over his shoulders like a lord of Winterfell.
Along with his wife, artist Harriet Myfanwy Nia Tahany, they serve as a nexus for local artists. Their property is a haunted mansion dotted with ram skulls, soft core fairy pinups, a bottles of potions with names Life Renewal Potion. The grounds have been prepared by a corps of young artists, dotted with decomposing corpses, miniature graveyards and alien sculptures.
Armed with a vague familiarity with the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky and the instruction to create a physical interpretation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, I set out to make a holy fool of myself. I don my skin wig and paint my face with clay in the portaloo. Hurrying back to the performance shed I swaddle my head in a rain coat to stop it melting off. I lie on a hemp tarp in this overly bright room. The music begins. Time slows. I am the tormented man, struck down by the weight of society. I smash my mime hammer against the rocks of social obligation. As the first act reaches it’s titanic crescendo I bend down to pick up an invisible noose, and end my futile existence.
I rise again in act two, crawling desperately towards a case containing what? Some salvation? Some dream of a better existence? I paw and lap the case with ferocious need. Finally it springs open in my hands and I bury my face within. The audience crane forward, what’s he building in there? Finally, after an eternity of thrusting and heaving I emerge from the case, a hideous creature of clay transfigured by their disapproving eyes. I stumble about, screaming and twitching, like a fawn born wrong. Finally I am crucified – my arms hammering themselves into the air, as my breath collects in great simpering clouds. A one man allegory for lots of deep things.
Act three, I am born again – a sexy rapacious beast, revelling in the horror. I shake off my latex skull cap – unashamed of my human hairThey have made me one of them, and they shall suffer for it. I crawl about on hands and knees, lapping at them, in a display of terrifying eros. Seb climbs from the stage and I rise to twitch with him. But it’s too much for me, I turn to the audience in horrendous revelation. This is what I have become. I look down at my hands, drenched in clay, my suit, a mix of the white and black paint I previously poured over my head. I turn to them as if to say – see, see I am a man after all. I assume a pose at once proud and abject. I wait for the music to finish. It doesn’t… I’ve horribly mistimed my big finish. Think fast, I think… I could stand like this for a bit, or wait, no, the old faithful foetal position. That’s the ticket. I shrink into a ball and wait for the end, as we all do, ultimately. It is magnificent.
Live recording, ‘Deathness Injection at Species 2015’
Deathness Injection – Deathness Before the Storm
Deathness Injection – Testament
Deathness Inection – Sexy Veil of Shame
Deathness Injection – Clangwarp
Ed Devane, featured in part six of ‘Mad Scientists of Music‘, is one of Ireland’s most innovative musicians. Having moved away from producing rigid programatic electronic music, Ed is at the forefront of combining electronic sounds and analogue instrumentation. For his recent Dodeca Cycle piece in Dublin’s coach house exhibition space. Ed constructed an installation that allowed up to twelve people to collaboratively construct or accompany a performance. His work is centred around this opening up of musical collaboration, building on rather than escaping from the ubiquity and accessibility of electronic music. I spoke to Ed for Culture File.
Last week saw the first ever iDig music festival arrive at Dublin’s Convention Centre. I spoke to videogame composer and festival organiser, Craig Stuart Garfinkle, about videogame music and his work composing for world of warcraft.
I caught up with the crew of Little Gem Records, a new record shop – yes you read that right, a new record shop – beneath Dublin’s Cavendish Row. Little Gem are a tryptic: A record store, recording studio and an indie label. They specialise in releases from local bands, folks whose music you can’t get anywhere else. Little Gem pride themselves on not screwing over the people who make the music. Something some of the city’s remaining big brand stores are apparently notorious for. They’ve also invented their own music format, a tiny cassette tape MP3 player containing a single album. If you’re indie Dublin, knock in for indie nostalgia, indie beards, indie tapes, indie vinyl and genuinely independent recommendations.
Hey folks, ¡NO! the psychedelic rock outfit featured in Episode 4 of Mad Scientists of Music, are running another of their monthly improvised music events in Twisted Pepper. This time they’re playing with avant garde Japanese saxophonist Katsura Yamuchi. If you fancy something chilled out and unconventional head down on the afternoon of October 18th. It’s a mere five euro.
Here’s the blurb…
From the black deeps of the Twisted Pepper Basement, the 3rd Saturday afternoon of every month, Concrete Soup has been bringing together international, national and local avant-garde musicians of all colours and stripes for nigh on a year now. Hosted by new psychedelic improvisers ¡NO!, Concrete Soup features a monthly guest and fuels itself on wailing walls of guitars, space jazz bass, brain bending keys, stair collapse drums, nuclear winter clarinet, high wire sax and generally mutant noise. Oh, and it’s often washed down with heavily psychedelic visuals. If you have a penchant for a mash up of the styles of Can, Pere Ubu, Captain Beefheart, Sun Ra, 70s Miles or early Sonic Youth, this will fix you nicely. October’s Concrete Soup will feature internationally acclaimed Japanese minimalist saxophonist Katsura Yamauchi. As per the usual form, Katsura will play a solo set as well as a collaborative set with hosts ¡NO!
Concrete Soup New Psych Music Afternoons
The Twisted Pepper, 54 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1
18 October 2014 – featuring Katsura Yamauchi
Admission: 5 euro
To celebrate the release of ‘Mad Scientists of Music‘ We’ve put together a fantastic lineup of experimental musicians, in a one evening mini festival in Dublin City Centre. Some of the best and most unique artists from the Irish electroacoustic, noise, chiptune and circuit bending scenes will be performing in a multi-hour experimental extravaganza.
Image: Popical Island, literally ripped from the pages of Hot Press
I’ve long been enamoured of the sheer fun of Popical Island‘s albums and gigs. The label come collective feature numerous highly regarded Irish bands like Groom, Tieranniesaur, Squarehead, Big Monster Love and No Monster Club. This indy rock (I’d go as far as to say twee-pop, but I mean that as a compliment!) gang have moved to a new home on Little Brighton St, ‘The Pop Inn’. There they cook up new albums galore and cobble together gigs that have an atmosphere reminiscent of a beech boys video, without the hindsight about Brian Wilson later becoming a drug mental. I visited this cosy corner of the world earlier in the week, and spoke to the islanders about what makes them unique, and to No Monster Club’s Bobby Ahern about his upcoming booky wook, ‘D’You Remember Yer Man‘. Results above!
The Instrument of the Law‘ examined how changing technology and copyright laws are impacting music. This bonus episode fills in the blanks, addressing additional issues we didn’t get to talk about in detail, like creative commons, the legality of mashups, copyright as a promotional tool, and alternative business models at a time when music sales are in decline.
All the information publicly available on the secretive Trans-pacific partnership agreement, the new transnational agreement which will dictate which laws domestic governments can pass or amend to govern copyright.
If you’re interested in releasing or discovering work that uses a Creative Commons licence, here’s a link to the various Creative Commons Licences.
The final episode of the series looks at the future of Irish experimental music. We find out how techniques like ‘Live Coding’ (where computer programming during a concert, creates the music and visuals in real time), ‘Geocached Music’ (intrepid explorers following clues to discover hidden caches of music in the real world), and new interfaces like ‘Leap motion’ (which tracks users hands as they move through space) will change how audiences can interact with the music. This episode ties together the threads of the series, and offers a glimpse into the future of music, technology and creative collaboration.
Part 1 – Geocaching with Ewan Hennelly
Irish electronic musician Ewan Hennelly, formerly HERV, now known as ZPG, has combined his love of hiking and electronic music in an unexpected way. Climbing the hills and valleys of the South Downs, Ewan takes part in geocaching. Tracking down geocaches (tiny boxes for marked on an online map) with his GPS, Ewan leaves tapes of his experimental music for curious travellers to encounter.
Part 2 – Simon Kenny’s Inventions
Simon Kenny (Bitwise Operator) is a musician and inventor. He takes us on a whirlwind tour of his software experiments, working with a variety of groups like Galway Autism Project. Simon also shows off his cutting edge software synthesiser ‘Oscar‘.
Part 3 – Andrew Edgar’s Weather Machine
Andrew Edgar of Gamepak Collective has a dream. He wants to build a new kind of instrument, a ‘terrarium’ that can be teased into sonic life by musicians ‘like Gods of yore’.
Part 4 – Ed Devane’s Binaural Recordings
Electroacoustic musician Ed Devane has been experimenting with binaural recordings: Sending these hypnotic microphones out to vocalists all over the world. The results are beautiful and dreamlike.
Part 5 – Sebastian Heinz of Patchblocks
Patchblocks are a new invention, successfully kickstarted by Belfast based, German born Sebastian Heinz. Part synth, part midi instrument, they can be used alone or as a programmable effects pedal; with a huge library of community effects to download.
Epilogue – Success in music
Niamh De Barra and Roger Gregg talk about succeeding as an artist in the twenty first century.
Mad Scientists of Music is a six part, BAI funded documentary series on Near FM. The show explores the world of Circuit Bending, Chip Tune, and Electroacoustic music in Ireland. Low cost technology, recycled instruments and a new attitude to tinkering embodied by the ‘maker movement’ are helping to reinvent music. A new generation of Irish musicians raised around computers, the internet and video gaming, see noise as something to be hacked, taken apart, and reconstructed. These artists build their own instruments, whether by recycling toy keyboards, modifying video game consoles, or attaching electronics to traditional stringed instruments. They often share their music online for free, and in doing so challenge our ideas about copyright and ownership. Their playful attitude to technology finds new uses for obsolete devices and brings the collaboration of musicianship to engineering and the arts.