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Concert Mon Jun 11 2012

Live and Let Dynasty: Joseph Hammer @ Lampo

Joseph Hammer.jpg
Joseph Hammer

Last month, Jason Lescalleet got his hands dirty on ferric oxide at The Burlington. As I said then, Lescalleet's approach to tape loops is the yang to Joseph Hammer's yin. With Hammer's upcoming appearance at the closer of Lampo's Spring series this Saturday, it might be beneficial to compare the styles.

Lescalleet is constantly building and tinkering. He wraps his spools of tape across several reel decks, stretching them long distance and overlapping them in confusing ways. In fact, he starts his sets before he's even completed his setup, a literal application of Ray Bradbury's declaration that artists should "jump off cliffs and build their wings in the air." His process, though transparent in theory -- everything's happening right in plain sight -- is incomprehensible in practice. I can't sync up what I'm hearing with what I'm seeing, other than the physicality of the two. Lescalleet roughhouses his decks, and the sounds respond by taking it out on the audience.

Hammer, on the other hand, has refined his technique until it is as straightforward and intuitive as Tai Chi. Compared with Lescalleet's knotty, dirt-track obstacle course, Hammer is like a velodrome, his frictionless surfaces removing all impedance to a soaring audio experience.

Hammer's tools are simple -- one (1) hi-fi reel to reel tape recorder, loaded with one (1) piece of two-track audio tape, clean and pristine and protected against sound-muddling fingerprints thanks to Hammer's trademark white cotton glove. A laptop triggers sound fragments onto the tracks on the spinning tape loop, introducing several distinct fragments of melody and rhythm that work in tandem (or discordance) with one another. New sounds are cut in and out, shortening existing loop sounds and creating a constantly changing playing field. A few light tugs at the tape stretch the sounds even further. At his last performance, Hammer focused on sounds easily recognized as fragments of '70s and '80s "mellow gold" songs, which turned the bunker-like ODUM space into a memory hole of childhood in front of the hi-fi, too young to fully grasp Carole King, but soaking in the gestures and fleeting moments. Moonlight...(deedle deedle do, deedle deedle do)...felt right.

For Saturday's Lampo performance at the Graham Foundation's Madlener House (4 W. Burton Place), Hammer premiers "Dynasty Suites, Part III," a new part of his ongoing series (previous volumes released by the Melon Expander and Banned Productions labels, the latter a 3" CDr wrapped tastefully in a clean white hankerchief). Hammer has specifically said that the sound choices here "are all sounds that make me cry," so I'm guessing the audience is also "doomed" to an hour of exquisite melancholy.

If you want to taste the ache, you have to click to the Graham Foundation's ticket page and reserve your seats. If seats are sold out, get on the wait list and come out anyway. This show will be too damn important for you to be left out in the cold. Tickets are free, and folks who RSVP on time should get to the event by 7:45 to ensure that their tickets aren't given away to waitlisters.

 
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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.

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