heaven and hell
sunday night was a study in contrasts at tonic. the music and atmosphere was fairly laid-back in some ways; the artists were pretty much unassuming people in street clothes, indistinguishable from the crowd, and they didn't move around a lot onstage. the lights were dim rather than dramatic, and much of the sound could arguably have been filed under "ambient". but there was another edge to the proceedings that counteracted the effect of this being some kind of spacey chill-out night. at times the lush music washed over us like cool water, at others we were attacked by shrill frequencies and harsh buzzes that made heads turn uncomfortably and fingers slide covertly into ears. several of the artists also exuded an intensity which belied their dressed-down appearance and low-key attitude.
the duo wobbly began right away with buzzes and glitches that morphed into a huge continuously changing soundscape of electronic but somehow also rounded and organic music. the two members then did short solo sets which were nearly as impressive, each showcasing their individual talents. wobbly founder jon leidecker came across as a college science professor who had too much excitement to sit still in front of his lab equipment, and for good reason; his music was incredible.
after keith fullerton whitman's set, leidecker returned to the stage as a member of sagan. sadly, due to a missing member, the show was lacking the video element i'd read about in the wire. still, the combination of leidecker with blevin blectum and lesser was an intoxicating mix of synths and beats. blevin often added highly warped live vocal samples from a microphone, and leidecker was constantly grabbing the others' audio output and messing with it as well as adding bizarre stabs of his own. the overall sound was balanced between their namesake carl sagan's themes from cosmos, crunchy breakbeats that often got deconstructed or derailed, and experimental cutups.
the title of this post comes from the song by vangelis on the aforementioned cosmos soundtrack, in reference to the contrast of sounds brought to the evening.