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Linden Marie presents Sunday, July 10

Ben Weiss & Jay Bruns present Sunday, May 6

A popular bumper sticker cautions that drum machines have no soul. We believe the exact opposite. Electronic music making equipment expands opportunities for musical expression and human connection and offers those opportunities to more people. New technology allows people to make unheard-before sounds. And, those sounds reflect the interests, experiences, influences, and limitations of their makers, no matter how they are made.

All sounds are defined by their pitch, timbre, duration, and volume. When it comes to musical sounds, instruments fall within certain parameters for each attribute. A guitar is a guitar and Bill Frisell sounds like Bill Frisell (with a lot of help from effects pedals and loopers, by the way). Similarly, drum machines, synthesizers and their players have sound palettes they are known for (and by which they are limited). Countless electronic artists have imbued their music with passion, sorrow, joy, and regret. The clockwork precision of a drum machine can render time irrelevant. Just as the electric guitar opened up new expressive possibilities for guitar players, so too do midi keyboards, iPad apps, and effects processors for both seasoned musicians and novice noise makers.

Jay and I have been improvising and recording music together for nearly a decade. We have both developed a pretty good idea of the types of sounds and decisions the other person may make. Though our instruments can acts as spaceships to a multitude of sonic universes, the sounds that come from our synthesizers and drum machines are our expressions.

Philip Glasshole began as an excuse for Jay to fiddle with new toys and for me to hone skills on my old one. Running a combination of software apps and mini synths, Jay Bruns concocts rhythms, shapes textures, and experiments with harmony and glitch. Many of the programs he uses were developed with user intuition in mind. They facilitate his musical curiosity. I typically craft drones and pluck out melodies on a virtual analog synthesizer Jay gave me. He facilitated my musical curiosity. We share an enthusiasm for testing new technology – filtering our experiences through new lenses – with those deservedly-maligned Glassholes. We try to temper any potential obnoxiousness by incorporating lessons learned from our other namesake: drone, pulse, ostinato, simple figures, repetition, and a belief that music is a continuous work in progress.

Our performances often move from the ambiance of the atmosphere to the pulse of the dance hall. We find transcendence in repetition and use it as a foundation from which we can experiment with timbre, tone, and rhythm. Our set at Free Sessions on May 6 will be its own performance and will sound like us. Despite the potential precision of our electronic instruments, there will be odd squelches, inexact execution, and other oddities that will be the result of the way we play that day. We fully expect to bare our souls.

That is what we ask of everyone else who plays in the free sessions: Bare your souls. After our set, we will spend a little time explaining what we know about how our instruments work and will have an assortment of electronic noise makers for people to try. Of course everyone is invited to bring their instruments as well. With the themes of synthesis and soul-baring in mind, we may ask that people find new approaches to the way they play. Run that horn through effects. Scratch those guitar strings. Tap the sides of the drum. You may just find a new way to connect with your music, your listener, and yourself.

Michael Musick presents Sunday, March 4

For the fourth iteration of Lakebottom Sound’s FreeSessions, I am looking forward to playing with and exploring the notion of sonic ecosystems. This driving theme in much of my art and music is concerned with how energy is transformed, grows, becomes concentrated, is transferred between elements, and ultimately dissipates in ecosystems. For me, this energy is always sound.

Many musicians and sound artists feel that sound drives their wanderings through life; we stop while on walks to listen to interesting textures in the world’s soundscapes; we find ourselves in flow states while playing, as the immersive experience of music floods our senses and ears; we organize our lives and days around the contemplation of sound and the experiencing of sound. Sound is the energy that allows us to survive.

My current compositional activities focus on the development of electronic improvisation systems (EIS). Inspired by the installations and writing that constitutes my Sonic Spaces Project, these are complex systems, comprised of both fully controllable elements and semi-autonomous agents. The fully controllable elements include common digital signal processing techniques of live microphone signals and synthesis. The semi-autonomous agents are digital objects that make music independently through the analysis of and reaction to sonic energy in the system. Sound is required for both the live signal processing techniques as well as for the agents to exist. The sounds made by the fully controllable elements influence the directions and music making of the semi-autonomous agents. In response to the musicking of the semi-autonomous agents, I am forced to change. This change may be out of a need to reduce a saturation of energy in the system, a desire to push the agents in a different direction, or a choice to stay the same in order to maintain the current stasis of the system.

For the FreeSessions, I will perform with this system and talk about how the ideas of sonic energy and ecosystems influence my improvisation during the first 30 minutes. During the latter 90 minute block, I want groups to think about how the concept of sonic energy can be used to drive their own creative group improvisations. Some of the other ideas I would like the group to think about are;

•How can a burst of sonic energy be used as a finite resource during the course of an improvisation?
•What does it mean to work towards stasis in a large ensemble improvisation?
•How much energy should an agent/player take-up during an ensemble improvisation?
•What does it feel like to allow energy to die and find an ending?
•In large ensemble creative improvisations, how can we create and maintain a healthy system/composition?

I am excited to participate in the March FreeSession as the curator. I am looking forward to a night of creative improvisation for the community and by the community of Missoula improvisers.

– Michael

Michael Musick’s Bio

Michael Musick is a media artist, creative technologist, composer, performer and improviser. His current practice and research is collected under The Sonic Spaces Project which aims to create, explore, and define sonic space ecosystems; a type of eco-art and interactive music system. This project explores principles of complex systems, natural ecosystems, cybernetics, and emergence, through interactive music systems. As a performer, Michael uses the computer to understand, process, amplify, and play with sounds occurring within the performance space.

Michael is an Assistant Professor of Media Arts at the University of Montana. Prior to Montana, Michael was at New York University, where he earned a PhD in Music Technology. There, he was part of the Computer Music Group within MARL (NYU’s Music and Audio Research Lab) and the Citygram research group. Prior to NYU, he earned an M.A. in Media Arts from the University of Michigan, where he began his work with performance systems while continuing his studies in creative improvisation and multi-media performance. Michael also has a background in tuba performance and recording arts; holding performance degrees from The University of Southern California (M.Mus ’09) and The University of Colorado (B.Mus ’07). Originally from Arvada, Colorado, Michael is a lover of the mountains, snow, and wandering among the aspen or pine trees.

For more information please visit his personal site at michaelmusick.com .

Jessica Catron presents Sunday, February 4

Hi there! Here’s what I’m brewing up for Sunday’s FreeSession…

I am looking forward to guiding our group through multiple practices using experiments and sound games to shape and encourage new explorations of sound using both improvisation and spontaneous composition.

I will be drawing ideas from experimental composers and musicians like Cornelius Cardew, James Tenney, Pauline Oliveros, Earle Brown, Derek Bailey, La Monte Young, and Christian Wolff. The goal is to open up preconceived notions of “music” and (hopefully) deepen ones connection with their instrument.

I encourage participants who can come with an open mind and want to take new risks on their instrument. As musicians, especially in performance, we tend to fall back on patterns, riffs, modes, and practice techniques that feel comfortable and accessible. My hope for this session is to create a safe space to broaden our comfort zones a bit. And things just might get pretty weird!

Anyone can participate – no matter your level, age, or experience with music. The exercises will be in mostly large group format, with moments of smaller group work. However, because of the limitations of the room we are using, I would like to maximize on acoustic sounds and try keep electric needs and drum sets to an absolute minimum (acoustic guitars/bass and hand or toy percussion/single drums welcomed!!). Think minimal space requirements. There will be a keyboard, a snare, a tom, and two tiny amps for use. No PA, no mics.

To open up the session, I will be doing a solo cello performance of a few short pieces by Sofia Gubaidulina, Cornelius Cardew, Alba Fernanda Triana, and Phillip Glass that explore limitations and experiments on the instrument. These are meant to share some of my own musical interests, as well as give examples of works that push the boundaries of common notions of music.

Finally, I hope to make this fun! I love to teach and share what I’ve learned in my musical journey – and I look forward to the exchange. I’m excited to make sounds with you. See you there!

My bio:
Jessica spent the majority of her professional life in Los Angeles where she worked as a freelance performing artist and educator. Some of her musical adventures include touring, performing, and/or recording with artists including Carla Bozulich (Geraldine Fibbers/Evangelista), Harold Budd, Nels Cline, Devotchka, The Eels, Fun, Vinny Golia, Trevor Hall, The Heavy, Eleni Mandell, Dave Matthews, Tim Meyers (One Republic), Sheila Nicholls, Linda Ronstadt, Spiritualized, James Tenney, Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney), Steve Vai, VOCO, Scott Weiland, Emily Wells, The White Buffalo, and Wilco. In addition to live performance, Jessica has appeared on The Tonight Show, The Late Late Show, NBC Music Video Awards, KPFK’s Global Village, and has been a soloist for films Mean Creek, The Strangers, The Covenant, and Levity.
As a teaching artist, Jessica worked for YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles) – a partnership of the Harmony Project and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Her students have had the fortune of sitting beside LA Phil musicians in concert, backing up Stevie Wonder, Journey, and The Black Eyed Peas, performing with Grace Potter and Sharon Stone on the Tonight Show, playing the Super Bowl halftime show with Coldplay and Beyonce, and traveling to the White House to play for Michelle Obama and Joshua Bell. She has lead workshops at the University of Auckland (NZ), Universidad de Bogota (Columbia), Music on Main and the Western Front (Vancouver, BC), University of Nebraska (Omaha), Cornish College (Seattle), University of New Mexico (Albq), Lake Tahoe Unified (CA), Port Chester School District (NY), Community Music Works (RI), Greensboro Guilford County Schools (NC), and the California State Summer School for the Arts, among others.
She moved to Missoula in 2013 with her family. Currently, she is founder and lead teacher of Grow Music Missoula and a member of the Missoula Symphony.

And here’s a silly song that has little to do about any of it. It’s about life on a Destroyer Ship: