I went to their performance last night at Studio 10 in Bushwick and yes it was an amazing show. I’ve had the good fortune to see this collaboration a number of times over the years. . .part of Brian’s Drums and Drones project. Though perhaps it is not news – I’d like to say how deeply Brian’s drumming and work with tuning has inspired Man Forever and my own playing. On the one hand – my drums sound better more consistently now – even though I’m still lazy about tuning them (“I’ll tune them in mastering.”). But more importantly his vision opens up sound worlds and concepts that are out of reach for me normally. Brian is a generous teacher and artist. . .his work illustrates this. I am deeply in his debt.
My observations of the show last night are going to be cursory – but I can say that the work feels even more present and clarified now than it did a year ago. Brian is a tremendous technician on the kit but this project isn’t about that – it’s far deeper and more refined. There’s a miked snare drum on the floor. . .the sound material from a single tap (sometimes taps) on the drum (the entire timbral range of overtones) is fed into a computer and manipulated in subtle ways by Brian on the fly. Ursula’s visuals create a meditative mood – and her images buoy and buffet Brian’s sound. Like Dreamhouse – both elements of the performance are essential and it’s a completely immersive experience and I believe it’s profound.
I once performed with a Kundalini gong player named Propheta. We played in the basement of the Ace Hotel on a Saturday night. There was a club next door with thudding bass and I was concerned about how it might disrupt her performance. . .our set was just going to be 45 minutes but she was going to follow it with an all night gong bath performance. I was hung up on needing a quiet and pure sound environment. Propheta wasn’t phased at all! She welcomed sound from outside. She opened my mind further to accepting performance situations “as is.” It was a major lesson for me that I’m still considering.
Last night there was some sound bleed from a stereo or PA coming into Studio 10. . .and it didn’t matter. Brian and Ursula collected it into their own performance effortlessly. They didn’t express anxiety about it – so the audience was not phased.
Cage was right about silence. . .it doesn’t exist. I don’t think he spent as much time as I have sitting in front of loud monitors and louder drums. Kids – don’t romanticize extreme loudness!