Para Nocturne@ Society for Arts and Technology | Thurs. 2 June | 10pm
Hype Williams, Organ Mood, ARP, Sundrips, Sun Araw
Running concurrently between A/Visions 02 and Modeselektion, this showcase brought together various artists with little in common other than their off-kilter approach and a fondness for synthesizers. Unfortunately I missed Sundrips and ARP while at Murcof + AntiVJ’s performance, and cut out before Sun Araw went on to catch some of Modeselektion, but all are well worth your time. The prolific local duo Sundrips will likely be playing again in the area soon, so keep an eye out.
Organ Mood, also local performers, played a fun set, but were too amateurish to really impress. The two performers do just as program said, “influenced by the various electronic instruments they’ve gathered and interconnected: a beatbox, synth and sequencer support a farfisa organ.” Better put, Organ Mood is two boys playing with the toys they’ve managed to acquire while gesturing futilely towards various electronic benchmarks. Unlike Kraftwerk, whom they occasionally sound like, Organ Mood’s melodies are less memorable and ultimately fall short. Not incredibly technical nor complex, music such as this is masturbatory without a good melody, and just too self conscious for it’s own good. Kraftwerk also presented a coherent artistic package, fusing innovative production techniques with imagery and narrative that presented a complete work. Organ Mood has no such unity, though the visuals projected behind the duo was interesting in many ways, with simple designs and random occult/mystic imagery. The visibility of the hand etching the overhead slide projector drew the viewers attention to the apparatus in a way that I found more satisfying and though-provoking than the music, causing me to reflect on the process while enjoying the visuals themselves, which shifted fairly rapidly.
The audience seemed to find the performance likable, with a few fans, possibly friends, in the front row dancing happily. Their closing song, cut short for time, was a good moment to reflect upon the evening, as the mostly somber crowd was provided with maracas to add our rhythmic participation. It was this moment that the group became most enjoyable, because the attention was shared with a crowd of people making music, however simple, together. Mutek’s tam-tams?
The enigmatic British group Hype Williams was the likely buzz band of the evening, but left me feeling cold. Roy Nnawuchi, the man behind the group, was standing to the back left of the stage, wearing a Old Man latex mask and fishing hat, while two trashy chicks with peace signs on their over-sized t-shirts and hair in front of their faces writhed and sang and somehow still managed to be sexy. (Or was it just me?) Front and center was the short blond “front woman” sans any disguise. Even more so than their debut One Nation, which was enjoyable, their live show is decidedly lo-fi, but sloppy enough to cease to be enjoyable. It’s as if R&B were being filtered through the prism of UK dance music in order to induce a punk phase. They deserve some credit for having the courage to be so absurd, yet how self-conscious can a project be when the artists hide behind such flimsy pretensions, no to mention masks. There is something of the spirit of dada here, as when Duchamp conceived of his first ready-mades and dared the public to deny that it was art. The difference being of course that Duchamp was brilliant and his concepts much more sophisticated, while Hype Williams live show seemed to have very little substance and very little to say rather than performing a not-quite-parody of hipster excess and bullsh*t.