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Music Production: Death Pig
07/02/2003 Death Pig: Live performance at Club Cafe

Announcement
The Wired Monday shows are back, but it's summer and it's hot and we're all disoriented, so they're on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. I'm not playing on the 1st, though. (I'll be there, probably participating in the improv--on the 1st we'll have Automatic Matt's turntable noise and samples, Cocky Child's smart, clicky ambience, and newcomer Temison Adoki's stunning, exquisitely crafted glitchcore.) But on the 2nd, I'll be playing with these fine musicians:

* Lord Grunge: Mighty raps and house-shaking laptop beats from this member of Grand Buffet
* Powder French: Pittsburgh's own dark ambient soundscape pioneer
* Death Pig (yep, me again): the current plan is to bring all the effects boxes for a bout of no-input ambient patterns and reasonably friendly noise. We'll see how this one goes.

As ever, 21+, $3, 7:30 to 10:30. These nights are calling your name. You are compelled. You will be there.

Report
Well, they weren't there. But two people showed up, and we gave them a performance. And they liked it! I did in fact go through with the no-input plan. It was kind of weird not having the laptop at a show; it's been the one constant up to this point, apart from the Guitar Guitar Guitar Guitar Guitar show. When I showed up, Powder French was there, mostly set up.

I got the basic direct boxes and mic going, and set up my own array of stuff--the ring modulator, Graphic Fuzz, Ibanez modulation delay, Digitech 2-second sampler, Line6 delay modeler, and the FMR Audio Really Nice Compressor to keep from sending massive spikes through the sound system. (Admittedly it's a compressor and not a limiter, but my ART compressor/limiter is much more opaque and is more of a pain to haul around.) It took a while to make sense of this arrangement, so I was glad I spent some rehearsal time a few days before.

Greg (PF) and I had a chance to talk, and it turned out that years ago he played at the Arcane Device show at the Turmoil Room (R.I.P.), which is the occasion on which I first realized the possibilities of no-input. David Myers--Arcane Device himself--put out several albums of this, of which I have the brilliant and evocative Engines of Myth (RRR) and the double (triple?) 7-inch single set. I remember reading that he retired from music due to hearing damage. Can anyone confirm this? In any event, it was interesting to find out that Greg had been at that show. I remember going into the space and seeing the outlines of Minozin-V behind a translucent plastic screen. Sounds came out from behind it, we could see motion, but it was impossible to tell exactly what was going on. Later, Arcane Device came out, sat in one of the old chairs, and proceeded to blow our minds with his self-assembled feedback boxes.

Lord Grunge arrived shortly after this, and we got him set up quickly as he had just a laptop and would be using the mic. After some quick soundchecks, we took a break before doing the show. I figured I'd go on right at 8, which is what I did--only two people in the audience, but a) I didn't know them, so this was new to them, and b) they paid to get in and deserved a real show. So I started.

The difficulty of this kind of performance is that if you have the level knobs down far enough to avoid excruciating howling feedback, you won't know how far to put them up again to get the feedback. This leeds to a lot of nudging the volume up on something, then a little more, then a little more, then--WHAM, the room-clearing howl. But if you balance and filter it just right, you can get a little ringing tone that builds to a useful, listenable frequency. The line between them, however, is a thin one. Consequently, I spent my set gingerly turning up controls, occasionally giving a little jump when it tipped over into howling. Anytime something really interesting would happen, I'd try to grab it with the Line6.

I did about three different "pieces" (it was hard for me to tell when one ended and another began, but I figured if I was pausing, and chose to dump the contents of the Line6, then we'd call it a new piece) over 45 minutes, which seemed like a nice length to the set. Some of the sounds are quite satisfying (like one sound I'm convinced is the Death Pig itself!), some led to interesting little rhythms, and a few melodies. If things got too dense, I'd dump the Line6's memory, and overall it's sparse and dark. I'm reasonably happy with it. Greg loaned me his watch, so at 8:43 I put an end to the set.

Greg's set was next, and it went quite well--very soundscapy, yet more forceful than other times I've heard him. Lord Grunge was up next, and put on a large-sized show for our small audience, previewing some tracks from the upcoming Grand Buffet CD, as well as a karaoke Spice Girls cover. Well done. Toward the end, some friends of the club owner came in, so I ran back to the board to kick up his vocals a bit.

Both PF and LG did short sets, so we had plenty of time at the end. This led to a half hour of three improvs, which I quite liked playing. They were at times confusing--it was difficult to know who was making what sound, and whenever I turned any knobs, I couldn't tell if I was the one changing whatever was changing, or if that was just coincidence. Quite a lot of fun, and our two audience members had a good time.

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