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Transmission
« Review: Four Tet, Matthew Dear, John Hopkins @ Metro 10/14 Review: Devotchka, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, Angus & Julia Stone @ Lincoln Hall 10/15 »

Review Sun Oct 17 2010

Review: Tristan Perich @ Lampo

perich_8601.jpg

Photo by Dave Knapik

Tristan Perich plugged in his latest composition, flipped the switch, and...pow! Just like that, a shower of blipping tones rained down on the crowd in the darkened hall at the Graham Foundation's Madlener House (one of the locations currently hosting Lampo events regularly) and looking at a row of five small black and white TVs. His 1-Bit Symphony looks like a CD, but is actually an electronic device. Mounted inside a clear CD jewel case is a small microchip, some machinery to actuate the microchip's "idea," an on/off switch, and a headphone jack.

While the "CD" ran its course, Perich returned to his seat at the side of the crowd, his fingers sliding elegantly over five separate sets of receptors and tiny circuits. As he manipulated each one, light patterns began to scroll across the screen. First, it was just lines, left to right, a few screens still blank, others in motion. Sometimes, it would seem as if a pattern would "jump" from one screen to the next, as if it were a long snake sliding through the row of TVs. Soon, more complex patterns began to form -- honeycomb textures, visual 'noise' that seemed to be trying to spell out words, and ziggurat-like sawtooths. The patterns always cycled from left to right, forcing you to either choose between looking at all five screens as a whole or focus on each screen's repeated motifs. The effects were created by Perich's homemade system of electronic gadgets that were controlling the cathode guns in the TVs, treating the TV's picture tube like an un-tagged subway car.

The music itself sliced the air with a sharp crystalline edge. The blipping, high-velocity runs and controlled forays into white static were not random patterns, but nuanced, emotionally stimulating compositions -- in fact, it would not be hard to imagine "1-Bit Symphony," with its lightning-fast arpeggios and mournful bass pedals scored for an especially dexterous organist -- but the execution on a set of electronics that sounds like the beeps and buzzes an Atari 2600 cartridge would make when it overheated made the harmonic and melodic complexity all the more affecting. Like Nancarrow's player piano pieces, the medium is always a factor -- you do tend to think about the mind (and hand) that had the idea to punch all those tiny holes in order to make this deeply alien music, but it only enhances the listening experience.

The first performance of Lampo's Fall 2010 season looks like an inspiring set of performers -- all four programs emphasize creative and/or "wrong" uses of low-cost electronic equipment to achieve amazing ends. It's a reminder that waiting to experiment until you've saved up enough to get a "decent rig" is time needlessly wasted.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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