rhys chatham, bill orcutt, mca, 9/9/10

photo by Wajimacallit http://www.flickr.com/photos/wajimacallit/Bill Orcutt –
Black t-shirt. Jeans. Barefoot. Right leg crossed over the left. His right big toe crossed over the toe next to it. Twitching the foot rapidly throughout his performance. A graying beard. Messy brown hair thinning at his crown. He says few words. Hello. Thanks. Goodnight. Sitting on a chair. A lone spot light on him from directly above. Dust particles illuminated in the light. Ascending. Pulling him up. Isolating him. Removing him from this world. He glares at the light. At the audience. Like a belligerent drunk. “Yeah,” he seems to say, “I did just fucking play that.”

In his own world. Intensely focused. Singing wordless hums and throat bends along with his guitar notes. Hands beat the guitar strings. One bass string. Then a gap. A missing string and then the three on top. The bass string slapping against the fret board. The sound board. Droning. Violence. Flecks of wood from his guitar shimmer in the light. His right strumming picking hand looks like a claw. Gnarled finger picking. His left hand a blur of fingers. His head leans in to the guitar. Contorts neck. Twists and gyrates his neck. Pauses. Silences. Then more gnarls. The end of each song comes abruptly. A cluster of sound and a sudden stop. A quick thanks. A sip of beer. He wipes sweat from his brow. Glares. Eyes glazed. Menaces. Wipes his face again. Neck contorts. Tunes his guitar and starts again.

His music is normally not my cup of tea. Weird beard avant acoustic noodling. When I hear that style on the radio, it’s fine. One song at a time. Once in a while. I usually find it boring and without development. I’m left feeling like it sounds coolish but goes nowhere.

But seeing Bill Orcutt play it was an amazing thing. It was amazing to watch his technical skills as well as watch him go way inside himself and start touching other exterior worlds. Like conjuring. Summoning. Channeling. Improvising these tangled threads of notes on his guitar. It was a beautiful performance.

photo by wajimacallit http://www.flickr.com/photos/wajimacallit/
Rhys Chatham –
Weird sense of humor. Intentionally talks too quiet to the audience. Walks to the front of the stage clasping his hands together like a butler in a movie from the 1930’s. Supplication. Wearing a wrinkled and crumpled black suit that reminds me of Joseph Beuys’ felt suit. A wide brimmed black orthodox hat. Black shoes. Gray hair. Soft voice. Bumbles around on the stage. How much is him? How much is the act? Explaining that in the first piece they will be using lots of delay pedals and that it will take 33 seconds to set up. He kneels down and starts pressing the pedal buttons in combination with both hands. Working his way across his blanket of pedals. He stops and puts his hands on his knees. Folded as in meditation. Looks up. Then goes back to his adjustments.

Layer up on layer of sound. Small single notes blown on his trumpet. Repeated back. Over and over. What starts as a small sound. A random unsuspecting sound. Eventually turns into a throbbing roar. A pulse of soundwave. And you it’s impossible to remember when the change happened. When the transformation occurred.

As he plays on his trumpet, he blows into a microphone that runs through a massive tangle of delay pedals and mixing boards. He blows a long note. Steps back. Balances on his left foot and taps two pedals with his right foot. Presses another pedal al the way down then steps back to the microphone and blows another long note. Balances on his left foot and repeates the pedal process. Two taps and then pressing down on one of three pedals. Moving his way from left to right and back again. He’s methodical. Unhurried. There is no rush. Just the slow gentle build of this pure drone.

The David Daniell, the guitar player, looks like Wild Bill Hickock a gentleman cowboy. Long flowing light brown hair spills over shis shoulders. A suit coat. Skinny black jeans and sleek low profile sneakers. He hardly moves. His fingers lightly move over the fret board. His right fingers sometimes feather touching a finger pick pattern sometimes a pick. Other times he holds an e-bow over the strings. Rocking a little back and forth. His long skinny legs slowly reach out and tap his pedals. Spider movements. He’s a calm glacier. Building up his own drone and occasionally glancing at Rhys.

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