Earlier today I returned to Maybeck Studio for the Womantis event. Sarah Cathers and Sarah Bernat of 16 Bitch Pile-Up started out the evening up above the audience in powdered wigs and 18th century garb, tattoos showing through, bowing a shitty electric guitar and bass guitar while a cassette of period music played over the PA. After a long period of nearly-silent bowing, the sounds started building up with delay and distortion. It began to approach a 16BP fury, but it seemed like they were holding back a little bit, perhaps due to the non-noise-friendly appearance of the venue. After the music reached its peak and started to recede, Matt Ingalls, down on the floor, began playing a low clarinet drone (circular breathing) along with the noise until he was the only one playing. He began incorporating a short, rhythmically mechanical-sounding ascending motif. Occasionally he would start cycling through this pattern at a very high speed, as if it were a tape loop and someone just hit “fast forward”. More and more multiphonics and searing altissimo notes worked their way in, creating an intense noise clarinet sound. It seemed like it had peaked, but Matt kept escalating things to an unbelievably intense level. My timpanic membranes were creaking and generally freaking out – of course I was loving it. Toward the end he was rapidly trilling between two notes and the room's natural reverb sufficiently blurred the tones so that it sounded like two lines were being played simultaneously. I could more or less discern what was producing the results, but the auditory effect sounded like so much more than that simple explanation suggests. Really incredible. Post-concert conversations confirmed that pretty much everybody was completely blown away by this performance. Why the fuck isn't there an album of this shit? Theresa Wong and Lisa Mezzacappa started up once it was clear that Matt's piece had run it's course, and he accompanied their cello and bass duo for a little while before dropping out. They sounded good, but it would be hard for anybody to follow the preceding set... For the most part they were playing pitch-based music that was not traditionally tonal. Very nice stuff. Ava Mendoza and MaryClare Brzytwa faded in their electronics as this duo wrapped things up. Pretty different from the other electronic set of the evening – much more digital sounding. Cleaner, fuller and more abstract. One of the more interesting aspects was hearing MaryClare's flute acoustically from one part of the room and filtered through her laptop from the PA in another part of the room. Aside from the flute, it was pretty hard to tell who was responsible for which sounds. The music gave way to Kanoko Nishi and Charity Chan's dual piano set. Things stayed inside the pianos for the most part, with Charity playing the strings with ebows and mallets, while Kanoko kept things a little more percussive with plastic and other preparations rattling atop the strings. They actually both did a little of each, though, as well as playing the keyboards. Good communication. This was my second favorite set of the evening. Very enjoyable show all around. Prior to the show I didn't realize everything was going to flow together. This was an interesting element, but I wished I would've chosen a seat that wasn't right on top of the cello. Oh well, maybe it was for the better. Wine and other snacks were provided. I approve. I suppose it was nice that there was a mostly female improv show. If it hadn't been promoted that way, I don't think I would've noticed. The Bay Area is fully capable of supplying eight totally competent female musicians, so it just seemed like a regular good concert. In the last week, 7 of the shows I attended had a least one female musician (Womantis, Li Alin, TrioMetrik, Chan/Rose, sfSoundGroup, Frith/Gratkoskwi/Chan, Sharkiface, Telepathik Friend) while 3 had none. That's pretty good, I think? What's bad is... did I really go to 10 shows in 7 days? What the fuck... Matt Ingalls really held his own tonight as the “token male”. It made me proud to be a man.

Last night I saw Li Alin perform at RML. Karaoke style vocals over pre-produced backing music with live reverb tweaking by Naut Humon. Dark pop. Some was a little industrial, some was pretty dubby. This sort of stuff isn't really my thing. This set was followed by an instrumental duo of Naut Humon and Scott Arford. Naut continued tweaking things in Live while Scott fed him audio from some analog gear in addition to some digital stuff. The set started out with weird tone loops that reminded me of Coil. They kept building a strange tension that was never relieved. Some heavier industrial stuff came in later. Dark bass line from the analog gear with pounding beats. This stuff was sounding alright, but I actually heard similar stuff done much better in the sound check. Drinks were provided. I'm on a hot streak.



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