2010-04-02: Tim Hecker, Greg Davis, Lwa, Wind Farm, Goldwater Marmalade

Put a fork in me, I’m done. I’ve seen the wear and tear on the Mission Creek Brain Trust and Little Village Cadre — in particular, I ran into Andre in front of the Yacht Club about 5:30PM, and he looked like he’d been kept awake for a week by aliens shouting insults in his ears.

I went to the lecture by Michael Field about Dub Reggae at the International Studies department at 4, and was fascinated by his ideas of how the sound and technique of dub were intertwined with the politics and culture of the African Diaspora. I’m not sure how closely I hew to his theories, which of course arose from his own cogitation thousands of miles and 40 years after the fact. A lot of what formed Dub music was economic expediency in a cut-throat music business. It doesn’t mean Field’s ideas aren’t valid; we all synthesize meaning and narrative out of raw experience after the fact. But the International Studies Commons is a long way from Trenchtown, in more ways than one. Still, there are four or five genuine musical geniuses that emerged from that scene, and the techniques, sound, and aesthetic of Dub is a pervasive influence in modern music. Dub deserves both celebration and close study, and Field’s presentation did both.

I ran from their to Dawn’s Bead & Hide Away to set up for the Dawn at Dusk show, where I was playing. “What you say? Someone ‘reporting’ on Mission Creek also performing?” Yeah, well welcome to Iowa City, where the music scene is incestuous and hopelessly tangled — in a good way, I think. Anyway, you can read my self-indulgent musings about the experience here.. I thoroughly enjoyed the other performers, but I neglected to take notes on the performance order, so when I get through editing the audio I’m going to have to consult with Craig and Matt to reconstruct who played what.

The program at Gabes was the thing I most eagerly anticipated before the festival began, as electronic music is my thing. The show did not disappoint. I’d never heard of Goldwater Marmalade, and he did a nice set of ambient along the lines of mid-90s FAX records music, on very limited equipment. Wind Farm was more a conceptual site installation than a musical performance. They assembled a wall of boom boxes, cassette players, and miscellaneous Goodwill Industries audio artifacts, and then, three guys turned stuff on and off. Entertaining, but the volume level never really transcended the ambient din of people gabbing.

I’m a big fan of Lwa, and I’ve seen them play a dozen times, and recorded 3 or 4 of their sets. I’d put this performance in the top 2 or 3 of their shows. Oddly for a band aligned with the experimental noise scene, they’ve grown quieter, subtler, and more delicate over the past few years. Their recent sets at Java House and the Mill were slowly evolving meditations, featuring the eery low bell tones of the aluminum kalimba. This set was less rumbly and droney and more atmospheric and floaty, with E-bow guitar dominating.

Greg Davis played a set based on Earth-shattering drum thumps, bells, and monotone chants. That probably doesn’t sound like listening nirvana, but it recalled for me recordings of Tibetan Buddhist temple rituals. Aptly so, given Greg’s deep study of Buddhism. His performance patch in Max MSP even includes a line drawing of the Buddha, the better to focus on. After a week of late nights and whiskey sodas, I took it in sitting down with my eyes closed, and when it was done I felt revived and alert. Some spooky magic going on.

Tim Hecker’s performance went a different direction entirely, combining chaotically recombinant chords with an eligiac, forlorn feel to them with layers of noise and distortion. It sounded as though the ‘musical’ part of the performance was made of stone, and Hecker was sandblasting the stone to reveal the music inside.

Goldwater Marmalade [audio:|artists=Goldwater Marmalade|titles=Live @ Gabes 2010-04-02]
Lwa [audio:|artists=lwa|titles=Live @ Gabes 2010-04-02]
Greg Davis [audio:|artists=Greg Davis|titles=Live @ Gabes 2010-04-02]
Tim Hecker [audio:|artists=Tim Hecker|titles=Live @ Gabes 2010-04-02]

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