By Brett Shaw
Standing still, an appropriate distance between one another, gazes locked on the performers and moving images before them, the audience at Gabe’s on Tuesday evening absorbed the experimental electronic music concert as if the performances were a work of fine art.
The first Mission Creek performer of the night was TALsounds, an experimental musician out of Chicago. Mixing her music live on stage, pink and blue lights illuminating her from underneath, TALsounds built an audio atmosphere of sorrow and longing.
Noises reminiscent of moving cars and telephones accompanied the down beats to create the atypical track. TALsounds added breathy, upper register vocals, almost like a sigh, despairingly repeating the lyrics “I can’t stay around.”
Throughout her set, a screen displayed colorful visuals of falling through a city or a psychedelic landscape or through the inner workings of what could be interpreted as a brain. These projections aided to the artistry of TALsounds’ performance, continually to subliminally evoke emotions without the conventions of typical music.
The second experimental artists of the night were a duo who went by the name HEXA. While maintaining the similar setup of sound mixers on a stage in front of video projections, this group significantly differed aesthetically from that of TALsounds.
HEXA’s performance sought to disturb with their eerie sound and dark visuals. A disruptive beat and black and white background of an industrial setting served as a foundation to what would be an at times frightening experience.
Rattling noises imitated the sound of scraping metal and served as an establishing beat to the track. Sirens and laser noises amplified the chaotic feeling. Obtrusive bass and fluctuating volumes pulsated through bodies and the very structure of the venue. The sound would even sometimes be painful.
The crowd slowly thinned throughout HEXA’s set, likely due to the disturbing nature of the music. This however is a feat in itself. As someone who has never attended an experimental music event, I was amazed by both acts’ abilities to create such strong and unique emotional responses through extremely unconventional sound.
Experimental music performances are most enjoyed by those who will have an open mind and are able to reflect on the artfully crafted stimuli presented to them.