Concrete Mixer Live – it’s all in the mix!

Concrete Mixer PosterAre you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Musique concrète, according to our friendly Wikipedia: “can feature sounds derived from recordings of musical instruments, voice, and the natural environment as well as those created using synthesizers and computer-based digital signal processing.” In other words, it is music formed from processed sound, rather than a sound made directly from an instrument you’re seeing right in front of you. Sounds are recorded and messed with, then spat out again for your listening pleasure. Why do you need to know this? Simple – so that you can be prepared for a singularly unique experience when Spiral plays musique concrète at Concrete Mixer IV on Friday 30th January 2015 at 8pm Pacific, 9pm Mountain, 10pm Central etc.

Whether you are close enough to Denver to attend at the Walnut Room, whether you want to just listen via Radio Spiral, or whether you would like to join me in Second Life to listen, there’s a way for you to be there and a way for you to connect to others attending. Be prepared for loud, improvised and very unusual music from a collaboration of some great names in ambient and synthesised sound.

I hope you’ll join us whichever way you can, and enjoy the unique experience of Concrete Mixer. Spiral’s chat room (in the sidebar) will be open for business, to, so I’ll see you there!

«Gypsy Witch«

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An Evening Of EEK!

On Saturday night, December 27, I relaunched the Eklektik Elektrik Kolektiv, or EEK!, in a “flash festival” at the amazing La Vita Bella coffee house in Longmont, Colorado.

EEK! got its start some years ago, when my good friend Tony Gerber (Cypress Rosewood in Second Life) asked me to sit in on an Earthdance Festival in SL, the day before I was scheduled to drive to Arizona for a Different Skies event with my friends Nick Rothwell, Otso Pakarinen, and David Herpich.

We threw together a collaborative improv set and wowed the audience (although I’m not clear if it was actually, “Wow… THAT was different”), and since then, EEK! has been a vehicle for gangs of crazed musicians taking over a stage with no preparation and making noises at an equally unprepared audience.

EEK! live - Wes Milholen of ANTIDATA demonstrates his modular for fellow musicians and a growing audience at La Vita Bella

EEK! live – Wes Milholen of ANTIDATA demonstrates his modular for fellow musicians and a growing audience at La Vita Bella

This time, EEK! came about when I quite suddenly got a slot to play a Saturday night at LVB, a fantastic venue for music. A few days later, I mentioned it at a meeting of the Boulder Synthesizer Meetup (“A drinking group with a synthesizer problem”, as founder Mark Mosher calls it), and impulsively threw the roster open to anyone who wanted to join in. Within 15 minutes, I had a slate of eight musicians on board including myself; Mark Mosher had to back out due to family commitments, but a few weeks later I was piling onto the tiny stage with six other people, a couple of whom I’d never met before they signed up for the show.

We had Dino JA Deane on his little rig of looping groovebox and iPad Samplr, Wes Milholen (ANTIDATA) on modular synthesizer, Rick Reid on Moog Theremini and assorted effects boxes, Allen Goodman (Desert Mystic) on guitar and virtual instruments, Chris Frain (Lenn Cicada) on Moog Slim Phatty and dueling iPads, and me at the end… because I was jockeying the house mix and running the streams to Second Life and Radio Spiral (my very own stream for events like this) as I went, the only equipment I had room for to actually make music with was an iPad and an iPhone.

In addition to the six players, Don Hume of NIIO Analog had a rig with an Eventide reverb and his own mix-modulation-EQ device for messing with it, which which he processed signals from the other musicians… only occasionally screwing up the entire mix by accident. (Sorry, Don, my bad for not having thought through the routings before showtime!)

Gypsy Witch's beautiful virtual concert hall, with Spiral Sands playing keyboards

Gypsy Witch’s beautiful virtual concert hall, with Spiral Sands playing keyboards

I provided a live mix of the musicians which was fed to Second Life via my own streaming station, Radio Spiral. Naturally, my trusty SL factotum Gypsy Witch (Diana Smethurst in the UK) was on hand with me in Second Life, having constructed a beautiful virtual stage for my avatar Spiral Sands to use, performing to an appreciative online audience.

Each performer had a 15 to 20 minute set, followed by a break and then a few collaborations. Because these folks hadn’t played together before, there were only a few such interactions during the evening, but the people who took part had a lot of fun, and the audience (the biggest we’ve ever had at LVB, a packed house) seemed to really enjoy everything.

End result? The proprietor of LVB wants us back! So… later this spring, look for more EEK!age coming your way….

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MrSpiral