LIVE: “Deep Freeze” @ Upstate Artists Guild, 2/19/11

Century Plants
Century Plants

What’s that ringing in my ear?

The Albany Sonic Arts Collective’s 2011 season kicked off with the aptly titled “Deep Freeze: Experimental Music for Snowy Times,” last Saturday at the Upstate Artists Guild in Albany. The event was well attended – not a folding plastic chair to spare, despite the lack of video backdrop.

First up was the guitar-wielding duo Mark Lunt and Chris Bassett – collectively know as Insect Posse – who coxed tone and feedback from their instruments including their feet with great effect. Self described as “purveyors of noisy yet hypnotic hymns to other worlds of nothingness.”

Next up was Holland Hopson on soprano saxophone heavily tricked out in electronics. Giving off known but randomly generated notes, as well as a very breathy, almost surf-like sound at times. Named Metroland’s “Best Retro-Futurist,” composer Hopson is coming off of recent shows at the soundBarn, Saratoga Arts Center and the Flywheel Arts Collective. And he’s preparing for an upcoming performance with composer and live electronics pioneer David Behrman at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna, Florida.

After a short break, soundBarn – comprised of Thomas Lail and Patrick Weklar – was the second guitar-based tandem of the night. soundBarn had at it with mallets, bows, possibly screwdrivers and a fleet of effect pedals. Both Lail and Weklar were founding members of long-ago Albany post-punk band the Fauves.

ASAC stalwarts Eric Hardiman and Ray Hare – known as Century Plants – provided the last scheduled sonic assault with the addition of percussionist Matt Weston. Century Plants set about structuring compositions from quiet and melodic to off-kilter and edgy, laced with hypnotic, chanted questions of freedom. Weston’s face-to-kettle drum antics added that whale-like kazoo quality so often missing in today’s music scene.

The lure of all that gear with LEDs glowing so brightly broke out into a jam session at the end.

Look for the next ASAC event in March.

Review and photographs by Matt Mac Haffie

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