Experiment or Ritual?

Recently I listened to some Derek Bailey free improv stuff that Sidney Yendis sent to me… and from there I found myself checking out another UK experimental guitarist, Keith Rowe.

… Maybe check out  a few seconds of the video I watched to see if your reaction is the same as mine:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eb-GPdnfbyI

I liked the sounds, and hated the presentation. Which is strange, because we see a middle-aged, white, nerdy man fiddling with complex equipment on a table… that is, experimenting. And isn’t Glitchpuke all about experimentation?

We’ve always had a trial-and-error, experimental approach to making sound –  “scientific” as Sidney put it once in a rehearsal. But after seeing Keith Rowe, and thinking about what I blogged about our recent gigs, I realised that live, Glitchpuke is absolutely married to the ritualistic aspect of performing. I’m pretty sure Sidney, Andrius and I all love our roles as musicians, emoting, gesturing, taking the attention of a crowd. This ritual approach is the opposite of experiment, because the whole point of ritual is that everyone knows what’s meant to happen.

How can we put these two opposites together? I think there is a way. In our gig in the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, there were some amazing moments when strangers would walk in on our performance, and we would mess with the social dynamics by playing so quietly that we almost weren’t playing. Listeners were unsure whether to interpret us as performers or people. They laughed, broke off conversations, avoided eye contact, stood fascinated, etc., etc. I think what we were doing was experimenting with the ritual of music-making!

To me, sitting in a white t-shirt behind a table is throwing away a big part of what makes music so interesting. I hope that Glitchpuke can use the knowledge that all three of us have, of how to make a compelling performance (or ritual), as another factor to experiment with!

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