In The Midst Of Upheaval, Artists Are Curating Online Festivals To Keep The Music and Art Flowing

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One thing is clear, the news is changing everyday surrounding, COVID-19, the newest and deadliest manifestation of a set of viruses known as Coronavirus, Although many were, and are still slow to adapt to the strategy of social distancing, a strategy recommended by many simply to flatten the curve of transmission in the US and across the world, to save lives but more importantly to ease the massive burden put in place within a “healthcare system” which was already on the brink of collapse. In a world already in social and political upheaval with racism and capitalism driving profits over people, artists and other marginalized members of society such as service industry,  social and hospitality workers not to mention the inhumane and rapid growth of  house less populations across the country and especially here in the Bay Area, visibility, resources and support systems  for art, music and social practice were already practically non-existent, and for underground experimenatalists and activists alike, even less so. But in the true spirit of underground art and culture, artists and creators  are adapting quicker than any of us expected, out of a necessity of  survival. In a time when the day to day changes our  reality in a way perhaps never experienced by this mass scope of the population at once, uncertainty is the only certainty. We talked to a  few artists who are beginning to  adapt new models to  support artists almost immediately.

Chicago, IL musician and curator Ben Billington, who is one of the founders of the The Quarantine Concerts series based out of Chicago spoke with us briefly about the newfound series and how they are adapting to this unexpected shift in the arts and performance.

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Billington saysThe Quarantine Concerts are a collaborative multi-city endeavor meant to provide artists in our community a space to share their work and continue to earn a living during this time when most live performance opportunities have been cancelled due to COVID-19. By centralizing streaming efforts, we hope to drive larger audiences to the artists performing, with the aim of helping them earn more money in the process. The idea was formed by the collective minds of Experimental Sound Studio, Daniel Wyche, me, and Carrie Cooper — Daniel had planned an online concert himself since his tour was cancelled, and we all saw his post and sort of jumped at the opportunity to collaborate on something bigger.”

As a curator myself one of the inherent obstacles I can see with  suddenly switching the majority of live performances and events to streaming/online is an over-saturation / lack of organization/scheduling which can lead to the audience or viewer  simply being overwhelmed with content, without any actual direction. One friend is streaming here, another over here at the same time and we almost don’t know where to look. Through collaboration and selected curation, The Quarantine  Concerts seems to begin to address this issue through mutual aid and collaboration in  a way that individual artist streams or presentations fall short. Since Billington doesn’t solely rely on music/curating as a sole  source of income, he is able to dedicate more time and resources to promoting the work of others. The series solicits donations for each event and 100% of the proceeds are split between the artists at the end of each night. A truly generous and radical act.

Luckily I don’t rely on my art or event curation to make a living, so my time has mostly been spent trying to support others to get their art out there (and make some scratch) for as long as I can remember. That’s still very much my mentality while we’re on lock down”

Dr. Decaycast: What has been the biggest obstacle of the series and what are some valid critiques people have expressed thus far?

“So far, the biggest obstacle has been YouTube — our live stream was repeatedly being flagged for “inappropriate content”. So, the first hour of our first concert was us troubleshooting, and then making a last minute decision to switch over to Twitch. Luckily, it worked out and the whole concert happened, albeit 1.5 hours later than planned”

“I think the main critique is that not every art medium can translate well to the streaming format, and also, as soon as we announced the project, everyone wanted to be involved. Unfortunately there’s only so much time and bandwidth as a lot of us have day jobs on top of this fun project, so it’s day-by-day progress.”

Can you talk about what the series have coming up, performance wise, and how the curation works and how people can support?

“Tonight ESS is curating, Friday there’s a Chicago series called ACORN that had a bunch of shows cancelled, Saturday we have electronic music label Hausu Mountain curating a night. Next week we have Ithaca Underground curating a gig, Homeroom doing one, some others and many more to confirm. We’ve had curators approach us and we’re reaching out to some as well — curation of curation, for sure. Definitely not a free-for-all. Once a curator is confirmed, they pick an open date and we start the process of getting them the tech how-tos and other suggestions/guidelines”

Make sure to check out TQC  website and schedule  here and scope a performance.

Denver, CO based  artist Kevin Richards, who  performs under the moniker Equine is hosting PLAGUE FEST out of their underground Denver, CO based venue  Glitter City, but as many as the events over the last week, it will be without attendees. From the  Plague Fest event page:

“Since we (and many other venues) have shuttered their doors, I have decided to attempt some online actions such as this to help pass the time. In addition I am hoping this will be a way for me to offset the costs of keeping glitter city going. Any funds you want to donate to this end, please send via venmo to @glitter-city Please be sure to donate to the artists performing via the means they provide, and of course, buy merch!”

Plague Fest begins today and runs through March 27th. Artists interested in getting involved should follow the link above for  submission instructions.

Nima Dehghani,  an interdisciplinary artist based in San Francisco and Tehran has relaunched his Netformance series as a way of connecting artists across various disciplines and continents shortly after COVID-19 began to rapidly spread. We got the chance to talk with Nima briefly about the Reconnect Festival.  .

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“Well, I had a project called: Netformance which was dedicated to internet-based performances, I stopped this project 3 years ago, but after the strange coronavirus crisis, and seeing all my artists and non-artists friends stuck at their homes in quarantine, I thought that I can restart that idea, so contacted two of my friends in Iran (Fariborz and Sepehr) to see how we can come up with a creative idea to, first: entertain the people while they are bored at their homes!  Second: engage our artist friends whom their shows or artistic projects are canceled or postponed.

Also how we can unite artists from all around the world, who for the first time are facing the same problem and experiencing the same critical situation at the same time? The idea of online performances is not something super novel, but we thought at this point providing a solid platform for this kind of art, would be helpful to re-connect people and increase the empathy and human connection and to help people go through these tough days with the help of art, together.”

 

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Here’s a Google Doc to Submit to the festival, which begins April 5-12th (FIRST EDITION)  and will be held on instagram live An Austin, TX collective, seemingly inspired by the monumental cancellation of SXSW, started The Social Distancing Festival.

The festival like others above, has an open submission policy but is focusing on works that we’re specifically cancelled or drastically altered due to Covid-19. from the festivals website,  “Check out the LIVE-STREAMS page, or click through the calendar to find out about streamed events from all over the world! Have an event coming up? Let me know about it through the SUBMISSIONS page!” One thing that;s quite unique and  exciting about these festivals is their seemingly open submission policy, which is often a hurdle for underground or undiscovered artists. Here’s hoping these festivals will birth new collaborations and projects which may have not even been possible, or have an audience previously.

40203202_10156204124071693_7594413970820169728_oBay Area artist and curator Karl Evangelista (and one half of the duo Grex is producing the Lockdown Festival happening April 4th,  and features performances from heavy hitters Marshall Trammell, Oakland Art-Rock emsemble Grex, and the  dark whirring sonic spirals of Oakland’s own Voicehandler, Submissions are  currently open. Evangelista states The purpose of the festival was to consolidate some of the effort I saw going into both community advocacy and music making in the face of quarantine. I just thought it might be nice to see that collective action is possible (and in some ways easier) via all these technological innovations that we’ve been forced to interface with these past few weeks.”

Aside from open submission festivals,  many underground and small indie labels are doing online versions of their festivals and artist showcases. Erstwhile Records is planning an online version of their AMPLIFY Festival, you can join the Facebook group here. Also  Southern, CA  stalwarts Deathbomb Arc are  supposedly planning an online version of their showcase as well.  They recently had showcases booked in Oakland and in LA featuring Cooling Prongs, SARN, DIS Fantasy and They Hate Change, a queer rap duo from the swamps of FL taking the underground by storm.

While some are booking online festivals , others are sharing their own resources and encouraging to learn new tools and methods of sharing and promoting their work in times of extreme isolation. Bay Area collective Fault Radio, who already had a dizzying stream of online DJ performances ala Boiler Room has released an article on how to expand your practice in the time of quarantine.

Fault Radio’s Broadcast from Home . Details below:

Are you an artist or DJ who is self-isolating at home? Do you want to know how to stream your sets? Fault Radio is looking to host DJs who want to live stream from their house!

We will be providing the following:

  1. We have the capability to do remote streams without having our team present.

  2. We will teach you how to stream while providing technical support

  3. We can provide Stream-Kits (limited)

  4. We will feature your set on our archive (Youtube, SoundCloud & website).

  5. We will open an online event where people can donate. Revenues from the event will be divided between participating artists and Fault Radio/

Lastly, we figured we’d announce a new project related to all of this melee, a YouTube  Playlist Series of themed mixes titled #StayTheFuckHome Mix Series with themes ranging from bay Area Experimental Music to Underground Electro, to In Home Workout Mixes, Cooking Mixes, and more. Here;’s the first one, and please support all of the artists in this mix by going to their respective bandcamp pages and buying directly.

 

DECAYCAST #037 GUEST MIX – qualchan “A Mix For Inspiration II”

DECAYCAST #037 GUEST MIX – qualchan “A Mix For Inspiration II” “when i found out i was making a mix for Decaycast , i was pleased as punch & was moved to make a second volume of inspiration. meant to be played through headphones while wandering aimlessly around your neighborhood at three am.” – qualchan

photo for mix

1. roc marciano ~ select few
2. medslaus ~ cold 2
3. quelle chris ~ wild minks (feat mach-hommy)
4. medhane ~ stranger (feat navy blue)
5. earl sweatshirt ~ mtomb
6. ade hakim ~ along the hudson
7. koncept jack$on ~ murder call$
8. mike ~ butter fingers
9. wiki ~ 4 clove club
10. sauce walka ~ new sauce city
11. rago foot & king carter ~ 10 toes
12. akai solo x pink siifu ~ galaxy eyes
13. fly anakin x big kahuna og ~ quarters
14. sixpress ~ checkyrself/drowning (feat mike)
15. maxo ~ no love
16. the god fahim x mach-hommy ~ foto synth
17. mavi ~ sense
18. caleb giles ~ gather
19. jazz jodi ~ fifty
20. dj muggs x mach-hommy ~ stain glass
21. pink siifu ~ outlet (feat mike)
22. yuk. ~ tortay & friends
23. slauson malone ~ two thousand eighteen, bye

qualchan. is a multi-disciplinary artist residing deep in the heart of cascadia. he describes his work as a reimagining of americana filtered through the tropes of new age, focusing primarily on living through the anthropocene. he calls this wave now age, & is the only member of this school.

https://hangontoyrego.bandcamp.com/

Side note, Decaycast has  previously reviewed one of qualchan’s newest works “goodbye to all that” on Houdini Mansions, and you can read about it here 

DECAYCAST Reviews : NEGATIVLAND “True False” LP/DL (Seeland, 2019)

DECAYCAST Reviews : NEGATIVLAND “True False ” LP/DL (Seeland, 2019)


If “True False” doesn’t destroy the world, it might just save it. I’m not one bit sure which would be worse. I dare anyone to listen on headphones walking through San Francisco’s Twitternob at twilight as socialmedia workers disperse and sidewalk-blanket markets roll out. Embracing the eviscerated stupidities of consumer society and then fighting to get free of those same idiot entrails now draped across your brain could make Negativland your solo silentdisco dance craze. Inside your head will be not only the sounds of marketforce lunacy, but the ghost traces of three Negativland members who’ve already shuffled off this mortal coil, Ian Allen, Don Joyce, Richard Lyons, kicking their heels at the Earth, the butterfly’s butterfly effect, and members still enfleshed, Mark Hosler, David Wills, Peter Connheim and Jon Leidecker with contributions from Ava Mendoza, Nava Dunkleman, M.C. Schmidt and Prairie Prince but their work is swept into a torrent of sampled language and sound, the electrocuted-elephant effect.


Since we’re all of us asleep all the time and find ourselves only occasionally awake on top of that, it occurs to me Negativland works the same way the human subconscious does. Both are made of always-on memory and an involuntary urge to chew up whatever isnt already pink slurry, gnawing in search of that single calorie of nourishment. The transcendental moment may be when you recognize it’s all going down the hatch anyway, out of sight, out of conscious mind. Like the gut, the subconscious isn’t built to chuck things back up for inspection. But barfing is underrated. Like food industry slurry, the ideology industry perfected its methods, designed to evade inspection, no eyes on the kill line, packaged for volume consumption. Negativland is underrated, their music serves as spectacular emetic, geysering your feed to sandblast the monolith of fiat happiness.


“It is Californians’ God-given right to water their lawnsYou know, there is no way to argue with thatPrint the manifesto print the manifestoDo you own research.No way to argue with that.Except with explosives.”


Of the multiple contexts Negativland evokes, mid-20th century ad-man polish has become their arch brand. The smiling voice that locates us in inert collective conscience, situating us in the vacuum space of capitalism’s dominant cultural mode: the con. Having seized pop music and advertising’s means of production, Negativland have long been masters of the weaponized ear worm. Each wriggler is impaled on a barbed hook of dense wordplay, segmented samples sourced from the mediasphere are always-already persuasive, wriggling mashups that compel close-reading at first just to hear the slogan, but then to anchor the preposterous and political contexts from which each source has been sampled. Unabashed about dense language and conceptual complexity, those who refuse to listen will still find their minds on the hook. They may suffer, commercial jingles rendered undigestible by semantic clusterbombs, their preferred identities and rationalizations perpetually stranded between disbelief and stalled rebellion. Close listening requires a doubling of cognitive dissonance, the line, the sources of the line, infrasectionality with the world before you. This doubling is itself a survival strategy for life under late capitalism, to ditch habituated scripts and act in the incomparable present.


“My life in the woods has been ruinedStand by.Pending final test.This noise!Wonderful isn’t it.The sound of American inventiveness.I may go mad.But think of the future you have. Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about? Stand by. The question is lost in the sound of the explosion. Unfortunately. We. You. We are not destroying anything. We. And the creatures that assemble your phone. It’s easy to imagine the end of the world.”


The album includes a booklet that warns “Play twice before reading.” Inside, the crafted lines are transcribed as lyrics so reading without listening separates each verse from the  aural context of each sample. Pulling sources out of context is the most basic method of propaganda, but Negativland makes poetry from propaganda inviting us to another possibility entirely. The poetry of “True False” asserts a politics that doesn’t need to preach or cancel when it can surpass by wide margins of wit and a call to run, hide, then fight back. “True False” bears vital witness to floundering habitually disingenuous simplistic cons that paralyze collective action. Desire and derision may yet survive the slurry to congeal again, the Golem of post-consumer conscience.

-Pharmar Histamine

DECAYCAST Reviews: “Layers” by BÜCKLE / VOGT (Editions Furioso, 2019)

DECAYCAST Reviews: “Layers” by BÜCKLE / VOGT (Editions Furioso, 2019)

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From French label  Editions Furioso comes a debut mixed electronics EP from BÜCKLE / VOGT, blending lush, morose vocal melodies, shifting, fluttering beats. “Layers” is nostalgic and new at the same time, without compromising it’s sonic palette or compositional strategy. Swift, shuffled percussion skates underneath a swath of warm sine wave tone poems, while a voice will  ascend  into the mix akin to a barrem , shivering, wind  tunnel across your back and up your neck,  in a stark contrast to the warm, humming harmonic synthesizers and strings which uniquely gel into undulating, shifting loops of  ambient, sonic bliss, without losing the rhythm or  pacing of the track overall.

 

On  “Layers” the swing of the drums and slowly escalating synth pads create a lush, but dark forest of  fuzzy confusion, alienation, and sadness, all while not falling into any of the tropes those could represent.  BÜCKLE / VOGT offers a fresh take on mixed style electronica, refreshing, honest, and nuanced in a universally appealing way. Can’t wait to dive into the whole EP and will without a doubt be searching out future releases from the artist.

LISTEN / BUY The  Entire Album Here

– Meniere Zappone

 

 

DECAYCAST #47: DISKOTEKA – Soviet Disco, New Wave and Folk Pop mixtape by Big Debbie

DECAYCAST #47: DISKOTEKA – Soviet Disco, New Wave and Folk pop mixtape by Big Debbie. 
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We’ve  strayed farther and farther into reviews but  Decaycast started as a pirate radio show / radio collages so this guest mix from Big Debbie takes it back to the roots with this  wild guest mix for Decaycast, blending new beat, disco proto punk, and so much more with some seriously cryptic gems hiddin within, take a  deep listen and check out Big Debbie’s newest LP “Ab Ra Ca Deb Ra” out last Nov on Ratskin. Click the cover to listen and read a statement below on the mix from Debbie themself!
“Most of the music on here was officially State sponsored, but couple tracks were underground classics. From Eastern Europe to Central Asia, the songs would practically spread overnight, due to the rapid tape trade culture. Some of these jams I actually grew up with.  They were the mainstream hits, I remember hearing coming out of the crackling, night train radio, as you drifted to sleep. Some of them you had to go out of your way to get. By the late 80’s the music piracy was more out in the open. I used to get my music, from the guy at the grocery store. He had a little set up in the corner that consisted of a chair, some blank tapes and a Boombox.The bootlegger usually had a  “D.I.Y” encyclopedia as well, that you could sift through. Everything from disco and smooth jazz, to punk and death medal. You pointed to what you wanted and the next day he usually had a dubbed copy ready for you. However, to tell the truth, most of these gems I discovered recently through youtube, just in the past year. Hope you enjoy them, at least as half, as much, as me!”

1.Nasiba Abdullayeva – “Lazgi” (Uzbekistan, USSR, 1983?)

2.Rahima Shaloer & Gulshan – “Shiriniy” (Tajikistan, USSR, 1986)

3. Gunesh “Chayhana” (Turkmenistan, USSR, 1989)

4. Sevda Alpay & Zafer Dilek “Kara Kasli Yar” (Turkey, 1974)

5. Grup Akdeniz “Sine, Sine” (Turkey, 1984)

6. Eolika “Karavana” (Latvia, USSR, 1985)

7. Vishnya “Raschoska” (Russia, USSR, 1988)

8. Isabela Trojanowska “Jestem Twoim Grzechem” (Poland, 80’s)

9. Snezhniy Avgust “Fialki” (Russia, 1991)

10. Rusya “Nye Stiy Pid Viknom” (Ukraine, 1991)

11. Dos Mukasan “Barinende Sen Sulu” (Kazakhstan, USSR 1971)

12. Kino “Kamchatka” (Russia, USSR, 1984)

13. Original “Sen Kaydan Bilasan” (Uzbekhistan, USSR, 1981)

14. Biokonstruktor “Teletourism” (Russia, USSR, 1987)

15. ???

16. Murad Kajlayev “Fakir” (Azerbaijan, USSR, 1972)

17. Alla Pugachyova “Sirena” (Russia, USSR, 1987)

18. Glass Wings “This Music” (Russia, 1991

 

 

DECAYCAST  Reviews: Blaine Todd & Andrew Weathers (Houdini Mansions, 2018)

DECAYCAST  Reviews: Blaine Todd & Andrew Weathers (Houdini Mansions, 2018)

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This split begins with Andrew Weathers on the A side offering three experimental guitar and synth offerings, beginning with the track “Llano” which offers spacious, minimalist guitar work complemented through warm buzzing, swelling synthesizers. The synths and guitars play wonderfully off each other in a barren, pulsing, slightly unsettling tone poem. 

The second track, and standout of the tape “Mugwort Moon” is a huge, throbbing synth number with insect-like rattling pulses that transport the listener into a parallel universe of floating drones. Weathers synthesizes a perfect union of tone and spaces to create lush, dream-like compositions with heavy and dissonant overtones. 

The Blaine Todd Side of the split is more a take on traditional Americana psychedelia  rendered  through reverb drenched folk thrusts. Todd skates across a lush and morose pond, blending dripping, cavernous guitar strums, backed with distant unsettled, sad  vocals creating a fever dream style of psychedelic alt-pop. Gentle plucks and minimalistic events within the body of the guitar bloom into lush waves of intonation, a perfect compliment to the slightly more abstracted works of Andrew Weathers on the A side. Todd’s music is slightly more on the morose side of things where the Weathers side feels  both dissonant and uplifting at the same time, a  truly unique and dynamic pairing.

The label itself describes the offering as:

“A striking document of wide open loneliness, this split release by Andrew Weathers & Blaine Todd contains timeless works about Wobblies, the Staked Plain, etc.

Thoughtful, pensive songwriting blends with artisan-crafted dronework, and undercurrents of electronic wizardry.”

All in all, great release  from Houdini Mansions, a hybrid label, review site and radio show/ podcast. Follow them today and keep a lookout for more from this exciting collective, as well as both artists individually. 

DECAYCAST Reviews: BIG DRUM IN THE SKY RELIGION “Hope In Hell” (Self Released, 2018)

DECAYCAST Reviews: BIG DRUM IN THE SKY RELIGION “Hope In Hell” (Self released, 2018)

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Dozens and dozens and dozens of short audio collage snippets sampling cult preachers, hip hop intros, classical music, dust to digital style folk, guitar strummed outros, zealots, bigots, activists, tv personalities, “sickness in my community”  “suffering is the given” “{why do we suffer” bleeds into the funk arpeggiated bass line. Destroy god, destroy humanity, destroy politics and see what pops out the other end with a sonic audio accident slamming everything together with muscle, yet nuanced ease so to speak.

 

Pulling from John Oswald’s “Plunderphonics” and Negativland’s “Christianity Is Stupid”, “Hope In  Hell” blasts short, dense, collage critique splatter offerings of  religious and capitalistic confusion, alienation, and so much more and less., In  terms of sound art/collage, these  short works are dense, impactful, complex sonic vignettes into a  twisted world of  confusion and alienation, and well,  philosophical blindness. Some of  the  stronger works on this shuffle friendly journey through cut and paste absurdity are “God’s People” > “Transformation Energy” > “Make Me Present”.  This work oscillates between comedy, critique, and absurdist / dada tendencies to create a dense, dark, cut and glued critique of world’s interpretations of the unknown. Dense, fun, well done and sonically interesting collage work.  “The Big Drum In The Sky Religion is a shape-shifting confederacy of dream wanderers, spirit warriors, entheogen casualties and miscreants assembled for the purpose of altering the collective unconsciousness and bringing about the total Ecstatic Awakening of All Sentient Beings and Union of the All and the One through the use of polyrhythms, fuzzboxes and senseless banjo abuse. Dilute! Dilute! OM