REVIEW:
NF97:The 3rd Annual Northern California Experimental Music Festival
September 12 & 13, 1997
Sacramento, CA

"THE BEST NOISEFEST EVER" by Lob

It happened.. it was.. if you are a noise enthusiast on the west coast, and you missed this event.. you are weak. The 1997 Nor Cal Noise Fest presented for the 3rd year in a row by Sacramento's EXPERIMENTAL MEDIA RESEARCH LABORATORIES (EMRL) was a raging and LOUD success. The catch phrase, that was repeated by various members of the EMRL Staff was, "This year is the best Noisefest Ever.." and it was...and starting off with an attitude like that..was just the right feeling to make this a fun and comfortable event for all.. NF97 coordinators JAY TRUESDALE & FLOYD DIEBEL put together a very loosly run, but effective adventure in sound, noise and netwerking.. in the 3 sets of audio experimentation that happened over the weekend there was plenty of variation...but tons of friendly respect from both the audience and the performers. There were some problems.. the 3rd venue, that was originally scheduled to be the Recital Hall at CSUS on Saturday night was changed at the last moment due to the school imposing outrageous sercurity fees at the last moment, this was very un-professional and rude of them, but hey they are educationalists, not promoters...they really put a glitch in the plan.. but it was overcome quickly and easily as the Guild Theatre once again donated thier beautiful old space as home to the Noise Fest...there were also a few cancelations...both OFFICE PRODUCTS (aka David Chandler/Mr. Pharmacist) and WARNING BROKEN MACHINE, from Portland,OR. were scheduled but were unable to attend for various catastrophic reasons.. and also DEATH SQUAD from San Francisco did not show for technical reasons. Highlights though, included 2 perfromances from SEED MOUTH of Toyama JAPAN..and EUGENE THACKER from Brooklyn, New York.. both fine experimentalists who traveled great distances to play for us.. there was even an audience member who came from Chicago, IL, JUST TO WATCH! so there was alot of enthusiasm and dedication into this years NoiseFest, audience attendance over all was nearly 150, non performing, individuals.. whom each got a compilation CD with thier admission, of many of the artists performing, that was compiled and put together by the EMRL over the summer.... Okay what follows is a breakdown of each of the 3 events..:

NF97 EVENT 1:The Guild Theater,Sacramento,CA Friday evening Sept 12th
The Guild Theater is an old performance theater in Sacramento that has been undergoing restoration for over 3 years now.. during this time of upgrading, the Guild and its care taker, JEFF O'TOOLE have allowed the people of NoiseFest and the EMRL to house various performances there, including NF95, NF96, and now NF97...there are randomly scattered, still functioning padded seats in both the downstairs and balcony area.. there is a wide and comfortably large stage space easily 5 feet raised from the ground.. lighting from upstairs...and this place is old so please NO SMOKING OR FIRE OF ANY KIND.. the Guild staff gave everyone who came in the door nametags.. so we all could meet easily.. when you first walk in there is a wonderful lobby area with red peanut shaped neon glow in the ceiling.. 2 glas display cases where many performers sold various recordings and stuff of thier own bringing.. on either side of the lobby are doorways into the aisles of the theatre itself.. the theater is very intimate in its sound capabilites.. has really nice high ceilings.. and the sound system the EMRL provided was very clean.. the show scheduled to start at 5pm, actually got underway more like around 6:45pm the first performer up was KLOWD from Sacramento.. local favorite whom got his picture in all of the NF97 press releases.. Klowd's set was harsh and filled with various purcussive droppings.. it was very well done..even though he didnt seem too happy with it..he set was a great way to start .. a good crunchy loud dose of noise..set the mood...get the room ready for more.. next up was RADIOSONDE from San Francisco..who's set was very tone orriented.. lots of humming sounds interweaving into a nice trancy lull..that got louder and more harsh at the end...next up was CRAWL UNIT from Sacramento.. this was his first live show in many months, since his US tour last fall with Scot Jenerik, his set was also very tonal and based in frequency manipulation.. beautifully constructed weaving of high ends caused this hum that was nearly a whistle.. that was built upon and played with..was very sweet..next up was my favorite performence of the evening..randy ::YAU:: from San Louis Obispo...he set up an amplifier and speaker in lobby, that was connected by a long chord to the PA system.. and started his set from the lobby area of the Guild using a device called a MegaMouth.. scratching and screaming into it using effective delivered pauses that YAU is very well known for.. then he walked around the theater..coming up to the front of the stage.. making himself finnaly to be seen by the audience.. this set was very loud and fun, at one point a woman in the audience tripped over one of the chord connections, knocking it loose.. and YAU just incorporated the long pause to again attack loud upon the return of his wall of distortion..very well done.. YAU is always incredible and this time was no exception...next on the stage was CRIB from Los Angeles...this set was a very sweet excursion into ambient soundscaping using various effect processors and a bass guitar, causing lots of low end spacey grooves for a long time.. the beginning sounded like tibetian chanting, from a bass! this was my first time seeing CRIB and it was quite relaxing..soothing..any other word fitting this description...it was all that.. next up was SCOT JENERIK from San Francisco....this was a very different and odd set from MR. Jenerik..unlike anything i've seen him do yet..he started by using a propeller driven tone genterator..that he had built.. that caused really incredible high pitch sounds at first and then dropped in tone and caused this seriously wicked droning sound...to which Scot played a very well mic'd clay dubek drum..with heavy strong thudding percussion...about 3/4 of the way thru the set the propeller slipped off the fan motor, and the droneing stopped.. Scot continued on the drum, adding some effects and causing quite the tribal enhanced noise...the last performer of the evening was Sacramento's very own UBERKUNST...a small militia of people.. half playing instruments.. and have destroying mounds of computer equipment with sledgehammers and power tools.. this year they even added a catapult to fire old programs and pornography into the audience with.. UBERKUNST is a very visual noise.. and is much better seen than heard... this ended the first night we all left to go back to the EMRL studio or where ever else we were staying and party like mad fools.. until the next day...

NF97 Event 2: Bo Jangles (Formerly the Cattle Club), outdoor patio, Saturday afternoon, Sept 13th
...this was odd and different.. it was outside.. the PA was an hour late.. it was hot.. but still 30 or 40 persons waited until the show happened.. why? maybe because there was a bar.. and we could drink!..could be.. but maybe not.. finally Jay Truesdale arrived with the PA.. and the noise began.. first up were NOISEGATE from Oakland.. this incarnation of NOISEGATE consisted of regulars Trevor(bass) and Nick(guitar), now joined by a guy named Chris on drums..they were loud and heavy...sorta like a Melvins meets the Swans kinda vibe.. they played a song they wrote for the occassion dedicated to Govenor Pete Wilson. Thier set was slow and drudgy...i miss thier keyboard player..(cant remember his name..damn)..after they finished they had to leave to make it to SF by 4pm for the final mixing of thier upcoming new CD.. we said goodbye and they were gone.. next up was ECOMCON from Sacramento, this is EMRL/NF97 planner Jay Truesdale's project.. it consisted of him using an Amiga program called AUDITION4 and manipulating a sound captured segment of "Do You Know The Way To San Jose" by as done by Frankie Goes To Hollywood...with someone playing drums ...off beat..hardly a rhythm.. it was wierd noise.. it was not announced or introduced.. so some people didnt even realize it was happening ..until it ended.. next up was SEED MOUTH from Toyama Japan...we were very graced to have Hirohito in town for this years NF, his set consisted of him manipulating a cardboard tube with a stretched spring inside of it (a ZUBETUBE(tm)) through various effects pedals and processors.. causing a beautifully constructed wall of harsh electronics, in the traditional Japanese style, delivered by one of it's masters.. the sound system we were using at Bo Jangles was a small 4 channel PA.. this system wasnt really loud enough to make this set come off as well as it could have...next up was STIMBOX from San Francisco..another noise artist in the field of harsh electronics.. STIMBOX unleashed vibrantly loud and full of velocity.. quickly and easily showing up Hirohito's set before it.. a maze of effect pedals (there were like a dozen or so on the stage area)..relaying delay into feedback and building.. added some percussion for good punches and flavor..this was my favorite set of the afternoon event. ..next up was my project, INSTAGON from Huntington Bch, CA.. at NF95 INSTAGON began a running joke/theme for it's NorCal Noise fest performances...STAR WARS..this year we attemtped to recreate an audio collage that appears on the NF97 commorative CD called "Carbon Freezing Chamber"...we were plagued by various technical problems and sound mishaps.. but pulled off a pretty silly zany chaotic sound that many found enjoyable.. we had an amplified battle using light sabers.. one of which broke right way.. an explosive device in a Darth Vader head.. that was a dud.. but we climbed thru the mishaps.. with tape samples.. live showing of Star Wars the movie...amplified thru the PA.. heavy harsh electronic crunches and other noises we have yet to identify.. it was INSTAGON.. and it ended the day show.. we all drank another drink.. and headed back to the guild for the last event.

NF97 Event 3/Guild Theater, Sacramento Saturday evening Sept 13th
another night at the guild.. show started relatively on time at around 7pm or so.. the opening act for this event was PEST from Sacramento.. PEST is the first one person/female act to perform at NoiseFest as far as i know..she was scheduled to play last year, and did not, so it was a treat to actually get to see and hear her this year.. her set consisted of Amiga generated sounds and a windup musical toy overlayed to create an errie sorta dreamlike sound scape.. it was really sweet, and very different to anything else that happened over the weekend...next up was second noisefest appearence by SEED MOUTH, this is the 1st repeated act in Nor Cal noise fest history.. and it was worth it.. the sound system at the Guild was MUCH better than the one at Bo Jangles.. and SEED MOUTH ripped it up.. showing STIMBOX a thing or two for outdoing him earlier in the day.. this set was incredible and 3 times as better then his day set.. loud harsh electronics, again with a Zubetube(tm)...next up was CHRIS COBB from San Francisco.. his set consisted of him describing situations where he had collected sounds from.. and then playing the sounds on a tape player.. and then overlapping each of the sounds to create a blanket of sound that was strange and filled with swirling chaos.. next up was KENNETH ATCHLEY from Oakland.. he created using a TV monitor and a guitar..playing into the pickups and recycling the frequencies .. or so it sounded.. another very spacey ambient set with great dynamics.. K.A. created a great flow of energy and rode it with professional showmanship...next up was EUGENE THACKER from Brooklyn, New York.. Eugene began in a tyraid of harsh electronics.. very well executed, and then fed more into and around this wall he originally constructed to cause it to fall leaving a growing playground of sounds and tones.. Eugene's work is very mesmerizing.. quite hard to describe and was a treat to experience.. by the time he had finished the ambience of his performance caused one to forget the harshness of it's beginning. next on the stage was the mythical CONCEPTUAL MUSIC UNION (CMU) ..this is the project of EMRL founder Floyd Diebel...who was scheduled to play at all past noisefests.. but has not.. this was his first live performance at Nor Cal Noise fest..and it was worth the 3 year wait. The CMU played a choreographed short piece entitled "Complete Reinstall" it was performed by 3 players including Diebel on wooden sculptures designed by him, strung at various points with wires and mic pads, the shape of the instrument was very geometric angle oriented, with a width nearly 9 feet across., and 7 feet high.. the sounds produced by this creation were very fine tuned and amplified with perfection...the second of the 2 instruments was smaller in size and also had wire and mic pads, but included metal tone keys, like used in a xylophone. These 2 instruments are going to soon be displayed in a gallery exhibition somewhere in Nor Cal. contact EMRL for more info on that...the piece itself was very minimalistic at first with the amplified wire being lightly scratched.. and then with incredible syncrinosation, the 3 players started this purcussive assult into a very trancy rhythm...that built and droped intime with very well placed dymanics.. this was a very well executed composition.. and according to Diebel, will not be performed again...this show brought down the house.. it was the loudest applause from any audience in Nor Cal Noise Fest history.. it took something very special to follow that.. and we got it.. next up was DVORIN,DIAZ-INFANTE a trio from Nevada City/Monterey. CA...they consisted of a guitarist, a keyboardist and a stand up bass.. the played very minimal off key stuff at first to warm up.. very impressionalistic stuff.. and then moved into some very intricated and hard to follow time signatures that created a strange cacaphony i would describe as Zappa meeting John Cage, at this point an audience member took to the front of the stage and started to dance a slow moving groovy dance to the pusing sounds of DDI, he waved his arms and swung his head.. deeply finding trance in the noise .. he had gotten up earlier to attempt to groove with others, but this was it and he was groovin.. it was quite the site...guess you had to be there.. at the end of thier set 2 of the members "froze" on stage as the keyboardist continued to ease the set to a close.. it was very psychedelic. The final performer was a veteran to the NorCal NF.. MOE!.. from Manteca, CA . This year Moe! presented something very special he called MOEKESTRA!..which consisted of 3 chellists, a trumpeter, a violinist, 3 or 4 Clarenetists, and someother instrumentation i have forgotten, which he proceeded to "conduct" in a very discordian manner, while adding metal percussion and scrapings of his own.. it took way too long to set up.. and therefore was really pushed to edge in attempting to re-grab what was left of the audineces attention.. it was a very slow start.. the players werent all comfortable yet.. and so the 1st piece was sorta un intresting noodling of alot of instruments at once... but the second piece he called "take the A train" was splendid.. the players involved themselves alot more into this piece and it showed and came off very well.. near the end of the piece the clairenetists left the stage and walked all about the upsatirs and lobby areas of the Guild causeing the sound to travel and take new shape...someone told MOE! afterwords that it reminded them of Sun Ra...which is better that i can find to describe it.. that is for sure.. at the end of the set Moe! put on a Rod Stewart record of "DO Ya Think I'm Sexy?" and his band screamed in terror and left the stage promptly. ..begging for him to stop that NOISE!.. he scratched the record to a halt and the 1997 Nor Cal Experimental Music Festival had ended.. it was glorious fun..and well worth the traveling...there was many new faces at this years fest.. there was lots of great noise... the venues were great.. and it was a fun time by all.. a great success.. the best noise fest ever..

there was a compilation CD that was given away with paid admission to this years noise fest it was compiled by the EMRL in the early summer for release at NF97.. it included exclusive cuts from CRIB, CMU, INSTAGON, MOEKESTRA, OFFICE PRODUCTS, DVORIN-DIAZ-INFANTE, RADIOSONDE, PEST, ECOMCON, K. ATCHLEY, KLOWD, EUGENE THACKER, UBERKUNST, & CHRIS COBB.. plus secret bonus tracks..

this CD is NOW AVAILABLE contact nf97cd_info@emrl.com for information on obtaining this incredible document.

this disc is a fabulous collection of some of the finest current and happening artists in the style of experimental or noise music...every track on it fuckin rips.. it is really awsome.. and gets better every time i listen to it.. this CD was very much the cherry on the top of the cream.. after such a great weekend.. the E.M.R.L. are the kings of west coast noise.. they throw a great party.. find out more about them at their site at http://emrl.com

there is rumor that the 1997 Nor Cal noise fest may be the last one... that the EMRL does.. there is a petition to try to convince them to continue.. if you would like to add your name to this petition email your name and Email address.. and where you are from to : nf98_petition@tif.org


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