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Summer is over
Again and again and again...
Business first, and then some personal updates
Free Static will be performing Friday, Oct 15th at 7pm in the new downtown Eugene Farmer’s Pavillion as part of the New Music Festival being put together by the fine folks of the Eugene Difficult Music Ensemble.
Free Static performing the live score to Julia Oldham’s film “View of the Red Forest” in 2019 at Woodshop Projects.
Free Static is my collaboration with musician Chris Ruiz. Our output is largely centered around free improvisation, modular synthesizer, found sound, fx pedals and cassette tape loops. Basically anything that takes a current and produces sound, broken or otherwise, we will pull it into the mix to create something interesting and pretty listenable (highly subjective). We’ve been working together since about 2015 or ’16 and have several releases out at freestatic.bandcamp.com.
For more information on the festival check out EDME’s website.
This summer we stayed pretty close to home. Three of us got Covid right as the kids got out of school. We managed to go camping at the coast, and do some swimming at our favorite watering hole. Other than that it was a low-key-yet-somehow-busy few months at home with my wife in grad school and myself working on house projects, and my kid laying around like they’d been exposed to a carbon monoxide leak.
I’m learned to restore vintage sash windows, and I built a new case for my modular synth. My oldest son volunteered with local mural artists around town. My middle child hand-painted 20 of her favorite musical logos onto her bedroom bench. My youngest got bit by the skateboarding bug pretty hard, which means I’m back to getting injured regularly at the skatepark. The grind of the school year is upon us once again, complete with after-school soccer, theater and music lesson schedules.
I did not make a lot of art this summer. After the group show I was in this past May, we had to close our art space downtown. The faceless landlords were increasing our rent and would not negotiate. We were passed over for a few consecutive grants and were heading into a slow summer with all of ECA’s artists traveling or otherwise being busy, so it felt foolish to sign another lease. We gave notice and packed everything into a storage unit by the beginning of June.
ECA has been at this kind of crossroads before. Over the nearly 11 years I’ve been doing this thing, we’ve pivoted at least 5 times. So we will pivot again, and rethink what it means to maintain the art culture you want to see in your hometown. This past weekend we hosted several of ECA’s artist members at our house to eat food and sit around the fire pit and discuss the future of what we do. It was a great conversation and I appreicate the optimism and ideas that this group of human-artist-thinkers bring to the experience.
The discussion centered around the pressures of our nonprofit status, the lack of available spaces in Eugene, re-esteblishing our core goals, and doing so in a way that requires less infrastructure, flatter leadership, and more consistent revenue. Easy, right?
We live in a weird town. It is too small to not be overrun by college sports fans. There are a lot of art tribes in Eugene. Though there are obvious overlaps in our world views, our specific views on art are made up of different criteria and we stick to our lanes with little cross pollination. There are seemingly dozens of empty spaces around dowtown and it would appear that property owners would rather let them sit empty than host an arts org at an affordable rate. The space we moved out of months ago? It is still sitting there unoccupied. Contemporary art may not be for everyone, but without it this town’s eternal drift towards the middle would overtake us all.
More on this in the coming weeks.
Who doesn’t love a recommendation list?
Here are a random handful of things I’ve read, watched or listened to in the past few months, in no particular order:
1. John Hassell - Listening to Pictures - I’d been listening to this one a lot during my work day and picked it up on vinyl. It features everything I want to hear in music at the moment - layered textures, accidental melody, low pulsing or broken rhythms made from not-drums, and sampling. Mellow and good for evening contemplation.
2. I’ve been on a Gene Hackman kick lately and have recently rewatched Nightmoves and The Conversation: His seventies films in particular feature Hackman being perfectly disappointed and conflicted.
3. Shelter Press put out a 3-part book series featuring essays on contemporary experimental music called Spectres: My fam got me a couple of them for my birthday. The essays are deep-dives into the nature of sound, noise, and the process of creating at the edges of technology and understanding of what music can be.
4. Nala Sinephro - Space 1.8: Jazz has become exciting for me again the last few years as new artists bring together electronic experimentation and classic improvisation. Sinephro actually plays pedal harp and blends it with modular synth, field recordings and traditional jazz instrumentation. All with a composers approach.
5. Mark Fell’s book - Structures and synthesis - The Anatomy of Practice: A philosophical interogation into the experimental practices of the author, known for large scale installation works often driven by the MAX SP software, as well as more paired down studio work that takes its cues from tradtional club music from the 80s and 90s.
6. Pye Corner Audio - Entangled Routes: Somewhere between Detroit techno, 80s dystopian film scores and BBC Radiophonic workshop aesthetics.