Brave New Waves, a monthly music series of electronic and electro-acoustic music, debuts with an inaugural concert Sunday at 7 p.m. at 14 Pews. Masterminded by composer Paul Connolly, the series will feature artists from the Houston area, as well as guests from other parts of Texas and beyond. Connolly says the series is "dedicated to attracting a broad and diverse audience and giving the public opportunities to directly experience the work of Houston's electronic explorers and innovators."
John Chowning's classic FM synthesis tape composition Turenas (1972) is also included. And intriguingly, each artist on the program will also perfom a cover version of another artist's electronic work of their choosing.
"One of the interesting things about Houston as a city is there is a lot of diversity within the experimental and improvised electronic music scenes. But we're maybe not as vocal in publicizing it or making it more visible to a larger audience."
When Connolly arrived in Houston, he was unaware that there was even an experimental music scene, let alone a scene supporting the work of electronic artists.
"One of the interesting things about Houston as a city is there is a lot of diversity within the experimental and improvised electronic music scenes. But we're maybe not as vocal in publicizing it or making it more visible to a larger audience," he says.
Houston gets a bad rap when it comes to that word "diversity," usually from people outside of our city who are unaware of how much culture we have to offer. I remember interviewing violinist Todd Reynolds, who prides himself on being on top of the latest in performing technology, and being surprised that he had no idea Houston had an active, contemporary music scene that included improvisers outside the realm of jazz, as well as artists deeply involved with technology and music.
"I've played shows at Super Happy Fun Land where there was ambient and drone, works of a film score type nature, glitch, hard noise, and industrial pop all at the same show. It has been really eye opening to see who and what is out there," he says. "As a composer and performer, terribly exciting to be a part of."
The artists you'll hear may or may not be familiar. If they're not on your radar, well, that's what a concert series like Brave New Waves is all about, an opportunity to discover something new about your community.
Cyclea is the latest musical project of Jonathan Jindra, an incredibly gifted digital filmmaker, visual designer and experimental electronic musician. What I've heard of Cyclea consists of intense, non-repetitive, almost stream of consciousness gestures, using sounds that seem to grow virally into unexpected, very tactile forms. You sort of just have to close your eyes and hang on for the ride at a Cyclea show. Jindra is one of the first musicians I met when I arrived in Houston two years ago, and back then, he was already on some shit. So it's been a trip to watch his musical as well as visual work develop so quickly since.
You sort of just have to close your eyes and hang on for the ride at a Cyclea show.
SPIKE the Percussionist describes himself as both a "noizician" and a classically trained percussionist. His projects include Astr0g3nic Hallucinauting, Doggebi, a duo with Michelle Yom on flute, and the more rock oriented band Morgue City. He's a long time collector of unique, often handmade, sound manipulation devices, and in fact helped me with my research on such instruments for an article I wrote about hand made effects and amps. His work as Astr0g3nic explores the darker, more macabre side of improvisation, with a tactile, and theatrical approach to generating sound.
Bassist Brent Fariss, a graduate of Texas State University's composition program, describes his goal as exploring the nature of sound, specifically timbre, and "elevating it to the same level of melody, harmony, rhythm, and form. You may have heard him last weekend at Project Row Houses performing, along with three other upright bassists, composer Travis Weller's composition "Seven in the Third."
In performance, flutist, vocalist and composer Michelle Yom combines formidable technique and a uniquely personal musical vocabulary with her love for improvising. She's created sound and video installations that address spirituality, physiological perception, and human time perception for gallery spaces including Houston's Labotanica and The Foundry.
It's quite a line up! And that's just what's on tap for the first concert of the Brave New Waves series.
"I feel I'm really just beginning to explore and scratch the surface of the talent that's out there," says Connolly. "I'm passionate about having a series that really grows the awareness of what's out there."
Brave New Waves #001 takes place at 7 p.m. Sunday at 14 Pews, 800 Aurora Street. $7-$10 recommended cover. For more information, visit the Brave New Waves Facebook page.