In Praise of The Unknown: Noa Noa Experimental Series No. 5 Tonight

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At its simplest, making interesting music is about one thing: balancing consonance and dissonance, the sweet and sour, the familiar and the unknown. We love what feels like “home” — a quick peek at Pollstar’s top-grossing concert tours of the year so far is a firm reminder of that — but experimentation keeps things vital and growing. Take the ultimate sacred cows, The Beatles, as a prime example: Love ‘em or hate ‘em, no way would we be talking about these guys today if they’d ridden out their careers making slightly different versions of the same record. Instead, they used their influence to push at the boundaries, digging into Indian music and musique concrète tape manipulation and putting what were then unfashionable things onto a mainstream pop record. It’s not so much the sound or the style but the attitude, the willingness to play and see what happens, that matters.

Among the diversity of music we’re lucky to have in our scene, then, it’s encouraging that we have a strong, if small, community interested in experimental music. One of the most vocal proponents is Tony Youngblood, sometime Scene contributor and curator of Theatre Intangible, who has put on a monthly series of experimental music nights at Noa Noa, his home off Eighth Avenue. Under the heading "Mood Light," the fifth installment is coming up tonight, and Joe Nolan has the details in a Critic's Pick:

Insect Factory’s music would be the perfect thing to listen to if I were writing this pick in a space station, generations removed from my earthbound ancestors, chronicling the aching edge of the species’ evolution into some wholly new thing as it hurtles toward an ever-more-unknowable end. Jeff Barsky is the man behind the project, and the densely layered, repetitive, droning tracks he creates are as surprisingly dynamic as they are pleasantly hypnotic. In addition to the Factory’s cosmic mood-making, this event at Noa Noa will include the soulful noise of Public Speaking. The band’s debut full-length Blanton Ravine is being talked up as a masterful meld of sound collage and sexy pop sensibilities. Tonight’s show should make clear whether Brooklyn artist Jason Anthony Harris and his bandmates are messing with a mismatched mash-up or connecting disparate elements to create something genuinely unique and lasting. Tonight’s festivities will culminate in a colorful light show by Dig Deep, featuring the projector magic of Scott Sanders and Dave Shambam. Their swirling spectrums will be accompanied by the live musical improvisations of Tim Carey, Alan Fey, Matt Hamilton, Mike Hiegemann, Craig Schenker and Chris Watts. —JOE NOLAN

See and hear more after the jump.

Where exploring drones frequently involves different-colored blankets of darkness, Insect Fields’ experiments evoke clouds of light. Barsky has just released a split LP with San Francisco’s Earthen Zone, which you can hear a bit of below. Warning: it starts off with an ear-melting shrill tone. You get used to it over time as the rest of the texture fills in, but it’s shocking at first:

Public Speaking may be one of the most easily accessible artists in the entire series. It might be more apt to call Jason Harris a pop artist with an experimental edge, but his debut album has plenty of unique perspectives to explore. The album, Blanton Ravine, shares some DNA with My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and Bowie’s Low:

The improv group performing with Dig Deep’s light show hasn’t yet played in this configuration, but here are a few samples of their individual work:


Tim Carey - synths / electronics
Belmont adjunct prof Alan Fey - Marimba / other percussion
Matt Hamilton - guitar / effects
Mike Hiegemann - analog synths / electronics
Craig Schenker - alto sax / flute
Chris Watts - alto Sax / glockenspiel

Doors are at 8:30, music starts at 9, and is free as always. Plug in to the Facebook event here.

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