Choose Your Own Adventure

Wednesday, February 25

Vintage Hip Hop Promotion

At Soundlab, we are always trying to figure out how to most effectively get the word out about shows. What are your thoughts on flyers/posters? Do you read them? Do well-designed flyers ever make you want to hit a show you wouldn't have attended otherwise? or are bad ass posters like these a thing of the past?

Tuesday, February 24

This Week at Hallwalls (Art/Improv)

4/19--Free Jazz Legend Cecil Taylor.

From All Music Guide:
Soon after he first emerged in the mid-'50s, pianist Cecil Taylor was the most advanced improviser in jazz; five decades later he is still the most radical. Although in his early days he used some standards as vehicles for improvisation, since the early '60s Taylor has stuck exclusively to originals. To simplify describing his style, one could say that Taylor's intense atonal percussive approach involves playing the piano as if it were a set of drums. He generally emphasizes dense clusters of sound played with remarkable technique and endurance, often during marathon performances. Suffice it to say that Cecil Taylor's music is not for everyone.

Check out this fly white jumpsuit jazz 1981:

$25 general admission, $20 students/seniors, $18 members
tickets available at: or call Hallwalls: (716) 854-1694

Saturday, February 14

Acid Mothers Temple Live From Soundlab Downloads Available Online

On 5/16/06 and again on 5/2/07, Japanese psychedelic experimentalists Acid Mothers Temple landed at Soundlab for two mind-blowing shows. As it happens, both were recorded from the audience, the results of which have been archived for free download here and here.

Friday, February 13

"From The Mosh-Pit To The Art House": Metal’s Journey To This Blog

Hard Rock and Heavy Metal have always evoked ironic fondness among both street level hipsters and academic post-modernists, but in the early '00s a much more sincere interest in '70s stoner rock and over the top '80s Metal grandiosity became apparent among audiences otherwise interested in styles more easily defined as "experimental." For me, this disconcerting development made programming the newest music paradoxical: to move forward, we had to regurgitate the very music that Soundlab was birthed to transcend. Sunn O)))), with its nods to stoner metal and drone minimalism, made it possible to connect the dots, and groups like Rhys Chatham's Essentialist, which reconfigured the No Wave Minimalist's guitar symphonies in the context of the new drone metal made the exercise academic.

Still, I must admit I never fully understood the sonic connections, outside of ironic appropriation of the genre, and even though the sheer power of the above mentioned groups at Soundlab was impressive, I couldn't shake the sense that I was hearing the music that gave me reason to leave the soundtrack of my youth behind.

The following article, from a previously unpublished essay commissioned for The Wire's online 300th issue celebrations, doesn't do much to help me understand why I should care, although it does trace a subterranean history of Metal as it parallels the experimental magazine's own gradual embrace of it:
When The Wire published its first issue in 1982, it is doubtful that founders Anthony Wood and Chrissie Murray foresaw a future in which Heavy Metal – then derided in 'serious' music circles as an emotionally retarded, mongrel form of popular music – would share space in its pages alongside jazz, free improvisation and contemporary composition. After all, this was some time before the genre would begin its association with the 'avant' tag, and any dalliances with electronica, Ambient or musique concrète, though they certainly did take place, were not recognised as such by the post-punk firebrands of the music press.

Click here for more.

Wednesday, February 11

AIDS Wolf Posts You Tube Clip of First Date on Tour Reaching Soundlab 3/8

9 Principles of AIDS Wolf (from their blog):
1: Maintain a Daily Ritual. Music is like breathing, eating, walking, sleeping, drinking, pissing, and, with any luck, fucking. One must have something to play, create, and examine everyday; there are simply no vacations. Music must be a physical need and a mental compulsion in each moment of existence.

2: Live Aesthetic Immersion. One's aesthetic inclinations regarding sound should bleed over into and flow from all artistic disciplines as easily as they do from daily experience. There is no reason a sonic composition cannot be inspired by or contribute to a drawing, a tasty curry, or one's choice of socks.

3. When in Doubt, Bum Them Out. If you can't convert 'em, make 'em run crying and holding their ears. There is no shame in being a bummer. To elicit a reaction - positive or negative - is a valueless proposition and a noble pursuit in its own right.

4. Get in the Van. This is self-explanatory. Read the book, live the life.

5. Seek Strength Through Strength. Gear's gotta be carried, sleep must be forsaken, and long tours have to be survived, knowing all the while that ideas flow best when one has the stamina to let them out. Through proper consumption of wholesome fresh foods, daily strength training and sports, and copious amounts of fresh air, one can foster personal fortitude and allow room for creativity to flower.

6. Join the Family. AIDS Wolf is a nuclear family, from which flows an ever-expanding extended family network. Artistic collaborations, shared travels, exchanged stories, and general camaraderie with other bands and artists are not only motivating and inspiring but also serve as a vital metrics by which to measure one's own perceived worth.

7. Allow for Sonic Fields of Nothing. The use of negative space in music and design creates new dynamics, abstracts the obvious, and challenges both the creator and the audience.

8. Lift Anchor and Set Sail. De-anchoring compositions by dispensing with a bass guitar allows AIDS Wolf to make rhythm, often muddled, confused, and obscured with polyrhythmicality, the central feature of its performances. Lacking a "mama heartbeat", in this way, pushes the band out of predictability and puts atonality on a pedestal.

9. Become the Weird Punks. Remember when punk was weird and when weird was punk Destroy genre straight jackets and move out of the comfortable. Confrontation with norms and expectations is where the AIDS Wolf family is most at home.

Now that you have studied and committed the 9 Principles of AIDS Wolf to memory, you are ready to carry them into your daily life. Find failure and misery as you are guided by these tenets and bring them with you into the wider world.

Tuesday, February 10

Black Flag: a History in Hair

In anticipation of Greg Ginn's forthcoming appearance in Buffalo (at Mohawk Place on March 19), take a look at this hilarious timeline of hairstyles worn by Ginn and his bandmates in the pioneering hardcore outfit Black Flag from 1976 to 1986. Fun stuff.

Monday, February 9

Japanese Experimental Rock, a Primer

"Here’s a list of 10 great experimental rock bands from Japan [including Soundlab veterans Mono and World's End Girlfriend], in no particular order. Whilst all can be classified under the ‘experimental’ umbrella, most play post-rock or math rock to varying degrees" (from

Sunday, February 8

Drag City Reissues The Fems' 1982 Classic "Go To A Party"!

Drag City, the venerable label responsible for issuing records by Pavement, Stereolab, Bert Jansch, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Joanna Newsom, and Neil Hamburger (just to name a few) is reissuing Buffalo punk legends The Fems' classic Go To A Party 7".

From the label:
"OK, we can all agree that reissue LPs are among the coolest things going in the music bizness today, right? Well, wait til you get ahold of the latest trend, reissue 7” records! We’re getting the party started by resurrecting the fantastic sound of The Fems. To do so, we had to travel back to the year 1982, when this single was pressed in some insignificant amount by the band and spread around the country, one copy at a time. The Fems represented early American hardcore punk at a time when speed wasn’t necessary in order to punk out and the intersection of angst and humor was a common crossroads for aspirant songwriters. Hence, the barbed humor of “Go To A Party” and “Is It Living?” alongside the primal screaming of “Order.” The Fems were a legend in their hometown of Buffalo, presiding over energy-charged crowds with loads of sarcastic banter and making themselves a party favorite in the wide-open early 80s. Their 7”EP “Go To A Party” was recorded with the vocals, drums and bass closest to the mic and the guitar somewhere in the next room – but the low, rumbling sound that resulted is a unique vision from early punk days. For frustrated collectors, it’s a must-have – but not too many copies have been pressed, as part of our effort to duplicate the original release in every way. Make us sorry, punker! If you’re in Buffalo around Christmas you can catch The Fems’ annual reunion show — but if not, this is your chance at a rare slice of punk rock greatness come back from the grave!"

More info here and here.

Saturday, February 7

"No Longer Just Swept Along," Audio & Video Works, Sculpture & Works on Paper by David Andree Opens at Big Orbit 3/7

From the press release:
"no longer just swept along" consists of installed visual works including paintings, wall drawing and sculpture in addition to media content of audio and video elements. Through the combination of these artistic medias, no longer just swept along encompasses the shifting immense cycles of nature that surrounds us such as growth and decay, the weather and the seasons, showing the significance these forces play in our lives. The exhibition will open to the public with a reception with the artist on Saturday, March 7, 2009 from 8:00 to 11:00 pm. Big Orbit Gallery is located at 30 Essex Street in Buffalo.

David Andree, a Minneapolis, Minnesota native pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in the Visual Studies Department at SUNY Buffalo, displays the unique artistic ability to combining drawing, sculpture, audio and video work into cohesive visual and conceptual statements. no longer just swept along has originated from what David writes is his “desire to investigate the same idea, of locating the self within the ever-changing systems of nature that surround us through multiple sensory experiences.” … “Creating these works has become a struggle to make implicit the temporary nature of existence – a state of constant change and decay, a world which forces continue independently from the will of any individual part.”

The Wire's "Global Ear: Toronto" Sample Tracks

Toronto's burgeoning experimental music scene was featured in the December 2008 issue of The Wire: Adventures in Modern Music's monthly "Global Ear" column. Unfortunately, the article isn't available online, although here is a selection of accompanying tracks by the likes of Canaille, Joda Clement, Element Choir, Feuermusik, Darren Copeland, Barry Prophet, Tim Hecker and interestingly, Buffalo's Baczkowski/ Padmanabha Duo.

Friday, February 6

Black Metal Cupcakes

"My name is Megan, and I have an unhealthy relationship with black metal," reads the profile of the blogger and baker behind The Black Oven, dedicated to disseminating recipes for "Immaculate confections succumbed to northern darkness." Check out her recipes for Ornaments of Cinammon, Scones of Might, and Traditional Cupcakes Inspired by Untraditional Black Metal here.

Post-Rock Legends Tortoise, Mogwai To Visit The Tralf This Spring

Few bands occupied as much space on the CD shelves of millennium-era art students as Chicago's Tortoise and Glascow's Mogwai. Focusing exclusively on instrumentals, Tortoise was among the first indie rock bands to incorporate styles closer to Krautrock, Dub, Minimalism, Electronica and Jazz rather than the standard rock and roll and punk that dominated for years, and to employ instrumentation (two bass guitars, three percussionists switching between drums, vibraphones and marimbas) that departed from the traditional rock set up. For this reason, they are often cited as one of the central pillars of "post-rock" movement. The group's only other Buffalo appearance was in the room above Mr Goodbar in the mid-90s.

Where Tortoise injected dub and jazz influences to the post-rock mix, Glasgow's Mogwai pushed elements associated with traditional rock beyond the limits of conventional expectations. Most often, the group composed instrumental, often lengthy guitar-based pieces typically focused around the elaboration of a single theme. They are known for the use of dynamic contrast, melodic bass guitar riffs, guitar distortion and effects. The group's only other appearance in Buffalo was as part of an outdoor festival associated with a Clarence nightclub a few years back.

Should be a fun spring!

A Pertinent Question for Buffalo: Why Does Failure Inspire Some, Demoralize Others?

Stanford Magazine reports on the applications from psychological research Carol Dweck's work, which uses careful experiments to determine why some people give up when confronted with failure, while others roll up their sleeves and dive in.

Through a series of exercises, the experimenters trained half the students to chalk up their errors to insufficient effort, and encouraged them to keep going. Those children learned to persist in the face of failure—and to succeed. The control group showed no improvement at all, continuing to fall apart quickly and to recover slowly. These findings, says Dweck, “really supported the idea that the attributions were a key ingredient driving the helpless and mastery-oriented patterns.” Her 1975 article on the topic has become one of the most widely cited in contemporary psychology.

Attribution theory, concerned with people’s judgments about the causes of events and behavior, already was an active area of psychological research. But the focus at the time was on how we make attributions, explains Stanford psychology professor Lee Ross, who coined the term “fundamental attribution error” for our tendency to explain other people’s actions by their character traits, overlooking the power of circumstances. Dweck, he says, helped “shift the emphasis from attributional errors and biases to the consequences of attributions—why it matters what attributions people make.” Dweck had put attribution theory to practical use...

...[S]ome of the children who put forth lots of effort didn’t make attributions at all. These children didn’t think they were failing. Diener puts it this way: “Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, I’m a problem solver, and I’ll try something else.’” During one unforgettable moment, one boy—something of a poster child for the mastery-oriented type—faced his first stumper by pulling up his chair, rubbing his hands together, smacking his lips and announcing, “I love a challenge.”

Such zest for challenge helped explain why other capable students thought they lacked ability just because they’d hit a setback. Common sense suggests that ability inspires self-confidence. And it does for a while—so long as the going is easy. But setbacks change everything. Dweck realized—and, with colleague Elaine Elliott soon demonstrated—that the difference lay in the kids’ goals. “The mastery-oriented children are really hell-bent on learning something,” Dweck says, and “learning goals” inspire a different chain of thoughts and behaviors than “performance goals.”

Read more here. Via

Thursday, February 5

Sharp V. Feldman: Music For Sitting on the Floor?

A key figure in the avant-garde and experimental music scene in New York City for over thirty years, Elliot Sharp has released over sixty-five recordings ranging from blues, jazz, and orchestral music to noise, no wave rock, and techno music. He pioneered ways of applying fractal geometry, chaos theory, and genetic metaphors to musical composition and interaction, as well as the use of computers in live improvisation with his Virtual Stance project of the 1980s (from Wikipedia). Significantly, he received his M.A. in 1977 from UB, where he studied composition with Morton Feldman and Lejaren Hiller, and ethnomusicology with Charles Keil. In this 1995 interview with Brian Duguid, Sharp relays an interesting antecdote about his UB days studying under Feldman:

My encounters with Feldman remain perversely inspirational. I liked much of Feldman's music and enjoyed texts of his that I had come upon. At the University of Buffalo, he was the philosophical emperor of the music department. I took part in the Composer's Forum which held discussions (or rather Feldman held court and we listened) and presented our music. My first concert used a 90-second through-composed soprano sax melody played through a ring-modulator to tape, slowed down to half-speed, with a now 180-second melody, ring-modulated, over-dubbed. This tape was played back at half-speed again yielding a 360-second background over which I improvised again on soprano. Feldman called me into his office the next morning. In his thick Brooklyn accent with 2 inches of cigarette ash ready to anoint me, he pronounced 'Improvisation, I don't buy it!' and dismissed me.

"At our next Composers Forum event in March 1975 I presented my Attica Brothers piece based upon the eponymous prison uprising (I was involved in some support groups and activities around this). The piece used a microtonal melody (for maximum buzz and difference tones) for electrified string quartet plus conga drums, rock drums (the beginning of my association with Bobby Previte) and orchestral percussion. The parts (written out) were conducted by time-cards. The conga player played a 16th note pulse throughout. As we were about to commence the piece in a packed concert-hall, Feldman stood up and said 'Where's his music-stand?' pointing to the conga drummer. I replied that he didn't need one as he was cued by the conductor to begin and end. Feldman got up on stage, grabbed a music-stand and placed it in front of the conga drummer saying 'Now you can play it.' Again I was called into his office the next morning and told: 'You put too much sociology in your music - music should be listened to sitting in red plush seats and your music is for sitting on the floor!'"

Read the rest of the interview here.

Is Experimental Music Journalism Worth Saving?

As most of you are aware, the industry of print journalism has faltered recently in the face of declining ad revenue and reader flight to the internet. Most concern is direcated at the fate of daily papers, once bastions of government oversight and journalistic integrity in general; but the changing news landscape also effects smaller alternative newsweeklies and niche publications responsible for providing key support for underground and emerging musics. In the recent past, 2 noteworthy publications concerned specifically with outsider musics have exposed their bruises: first, Arthur magazine, which helped launch free-folk and psych noise into mainstream indie consciousness, ceased publication; more recently, the experimental journal Signal to Noise announced that it was in dire need of financial stimulus, and has launched a fund-raising campaign.

"My thought has always been that we have to earn our readers' interest with superior content, and that I shouldn't go around begging and pleading for reader support," Signal to Noise editor Pete Gershon told the Houston Press. "But hey, NPR does it, and Arthur magazine was just snatched back from the brink of extinction with a fund-raising campaign that netted them over $20 grand (in gifts, not in orders) in just two weeks' time." [According to Wikipedia, Arthur announced in February 2007 that it would be ceasing publication indefinitely. In April 2007, it was announced that the magazine would return as Arthur Vol. II. The magazine resumed publication in September 2007.]

While everybody loves a cause, and these were/are both noteworthy, the real question is whether the print format is relevant as a means for discussing new music anymore. To me, these magazines serve 2 important roles: providing a definitive measuring stick by which to comprehend the value of music that is too often written about frivolously online; while allowing for the exploration of correlated visual elements (in particular, with Arthur) lost in the stylistic homogenization that results from Blogger culture. What is your opinion?

Click here to read Gershon's thoughts on the matter

You too can help support Arthur's cause to "sustain homegrown counterculture" by "Suporting Arthur's mission, $1 at a time. Or more!"

Wednesday, February 4

Clapping Hands Machine! See The Music Tapes Live on You Tube Now, Soundlab Sat 2/28

The Music Tapes is an indie pop/experimental project of Elephant Six member Julian Koster, also of Neutral Milk Hotel, and the earlier Chocolate U.S.A.. Music Tapes releases are characterised by their unusual orchestration (the singing saw and banjo are matched with sounds recorded in Julian's environment, for example the sound of a bouncing ball as percussion), which produces an effect which is part musique concrete, part 1960s pop. The band also includes such musical inventions as the 7-foot-tall metronome, Static the television, the Clapping Hands Machine, and many other creations.

Monday, February 2

Read "David S. Ware Seeks Kidney Donor"

From the Signal to Noise blog:
Saxophonist David S. Ware is ailing and in need of a kidney donor, reports Steven Joerg who heads Ware's label, Aum Fidelity. Diagnosed with kidney failure in 1999 and on dialysis ever since, Ware has continued to perform and record, with Shakti, a new record featuring a new lineup, out this month. In late December, Ware reported that treatment was no longer working effectively, and that a transplant is his only option. Various friends and family members have offered to help, but have been rejected as donors since they do note share Ware's O blood type. Ware is seeking interested donors who are under 60 years of age and who are in generally good health without diabetes and high blood pressure. The transplant would take place at New Jersey's highly-regarded Robert Wood Johnson Hospital. If you think you can help, get in touch with Joerg at 718 854 2387 or at Ware, of course, is a towering figure of avant-garde jazz, who came to light in the '70s in the bands of Cecil Taylor and Andrew Cyrille, and who led fairly consistent quartet lineups that epitomized modern free jazz throughout the '90s and '00s, landing a major label contract with Columbia at one point but primarily recording for highly-regarded boutique labels like Aum Fidelity, DIW and Thirsty Ear.

Ware performed at The Calumet (at Hallwalls' beheast) during the late '90s with a group that included Susie Ibarra and William Parker.

Sunday, February 1

See High Places Live at Soundlab February 11

The experimental pop-and-electronic duo High Places is known for its unique approach to sample-free wizardry. Mary Pearson and Robert Barber formed the group in Brooklyn and are now based in Los Angeles. Here is a clip of the band discussing their music and playing live on Soundcheck, a program produced by 93.9fm, am 820.
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