Live Stage: Radio Wonderland [us NYC]

radio1.jpgLe Petit Versailles presents MUSIC For (F)ALL SEASONS with Joshua Fried and The New York Oratorio with Richard Kostelanetz :: September 27, 2008; 3 – 11 pm :: Le Petit Versailles Garden, 346 East Houston Street, NYC.

RADIO WONDERLAND is Joshua Fried, performing solo live sound processing controlled by old shoes (he drums) or with sticks and a steering wheel (He’s a, er, wheel player). RADIO WONDERLAND turns live commercial FM radio into recombinant funk. All the sounds originate from an old boombox, playing radio LIVE. Nothing is pre-recorded; anything picked up during the performance is fair game until the end. All the processing is live custom DSP programmed by Joshua in the MaxMSP programming environment. But he hardly touches the laptop. His controllers really are a vintage Buick steering wheel, old shoes mounted on stands, and some gizmos. You’ll hear him build grooves, step by step, out of recognizable radio, and even UN-wind his grooves back to the original radio source.

“I walk on with a boom box, playing FM radio LIVE. Once onstage, I plug it into my system and start slicing up radio. I arrange those slices both rhythmically, and, by playing them at different speeds, melodically as well, all according to what I hear. I call this process the RE-SHUFFLER. With another algorithm, which I call my RE-ESSER, (studio nerds will recognize this as a joke on de-esser), I isolate the sibilance, so I can compose on the spot with those S, T, K, Sh, etc. sounds, just like programming a drum machine. The ANYTHING-KICK uses FFT-based cross synthesis to morph a bit of radio in the direction of a kick drum.

“The sum total is dance music. I ham it up like mad, using the theatricality of the shoes and wheel. It’s great fun, and more
musical than the video suggests. Every show is rather different, naturally, because the source material is entirely different eachtime.

“So what’s it all about? What is the art-speak that goes with RADIO WONDERLAND? I want to show that we ALL can interrupt and interrogate the never-ending flow of commercial media. So my transformations, taken individually, must be clear and simple– mostly framing, repeating and changing pitch–although when everything is put together it does end up complex. My controllers are simple too: the wheel merely a knob to take things up and down (frequency, tempo) or play radio loops like a turntable, the shoes just pads I hit softer or louder. The surreal quality of using such ordinary objects underscores the absurd disconnect between digital controller and sound, as well as the congenial nature of the aural transformations themselves. So, too, my riffs must be vernacular and not elite. (We need the funk.)” — Joshua Fried

The New York Oratorio – Richard Kostelanetz

As a native New Yorker, who has lived here my entire adult life (and dislikes leaving it, even for an afternoon in “the coun-
try”), I have always treasured and even written about the literature and art of my home town, most recently in SoHo: The Rise and Fall of an Artistsʼ Colony (Routledge, 2003). Nonetheless, it seems to me that though the greatest books appear to capture much of New York City, the place still evaded as well as exceeded the capacities of either authorsʼ imaginations or their medium. Not only was too much left out, but one recurring problem apparent to me is a failure to acknowledge how unprecedented and how extraordinary this City was–how it has become a kind of second nature that had all the coherence and comprehensiveness of primary nature and yet was completely apart and different from it. Too many authors in writing about New York seemed too eager to connect it to something old, such as birds and trees–to see the old in the new–rather than accept the city as a wholly unprecedented environment. Appreciative of this New York literature, yet aware of its inadequacies, I had come to regard New York City as one of the most fertile and challenging subjects for art.

“My first thought, which seems ever more odd in retrospect, was to write out of my own head a New York replica of Dylan
Thomasʼs Under Milk Wood (1953), which survives in my memory as a model warm evocation of oneʼs home town. I conceived of indigenous characters and outlined characteristics of their speech; but once I tried to write their lines, I realized the futility of this approach. The trouble was not just that the languages of New York are not as universally appealing as Welsh English; I cannot write like Dylan Thomas and, though awed, would not want to. Moreover, the more I thought about Under Milk Wood, I realized that it represented the climax of a certain period of creative radio, when most shows were done live (or initially in live time, even if they were recorded for later broadcast), because the only recording technology available at the time was wire that, though it could but cut, could not be reconnected without leaving an audible noise. Working
thirty years after Thomas, I had necessarily become familiar with audiotape editing and multitracking; so I decided that instead of writing my New York City on sheets of paper, it would be more appropriate for me collect the materials of my piece–to gather those sounds that make New York City audibly so different from everywhere else in the world. From the elements of this collection I would then compose, along certain principles suggested not only by the material but by my knowledge and experience of the city, a kind of symphony that would, like Under Milk Wood, be a warm radio portrait of oneʼs home town.” — Richard Kostelanetz

LPV events are made possible by Allied Productions, Inc., Citizens for NYC, Green Thumb/NYC Dept. of Parks, Materials for the Arts; NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs, NYC Dept. of Sanitation & NYC Board of Education Film & Exhibition support from The New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. Additional support, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.

Sep 26, 2008
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