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Music Production: The Unindicted Co-Conspirators
01/26/2004 The Unindicted Co-Conspirators: Live performance at Club Cafe

Originally, Sugapablo was scheduled to play the second set, but thought the better of coming out in the ice storm we had, so Steve and I went right into the UCoCo set. We'd soundchecked early on, so we were good to go...although I could have used a bit more of a break to clear my head. We started with "Frequinox," our version of Coltrane's "Equinox," on which Steve played brilliantly. I wasn't quite as happy with my own playing--I was a little too elastic with the beat I was coming in on. Still, I had some sections working, with a Girl-delayed and modulated solo that had some decent glitchy moments. Overall...it wasn't quite working from my end, although I took up more reliable residence in the pocket after the solo, and the resonant drone at the end sounded good.

Next up, we did a version of "Lady of Pain," at which point the communication was really happening. It was a bit denser and more chaotic than the one we've released, but at the same time more assertive and confident, with the addition of guitar percussion and faster playing from Steve. (And a very happy section in which the strings above the nut proved to be in tune with the piece.)

In rehearsal, we'd been experimenting with Ableton Live in addition to Girl for processing. In fact, I'd experimentally hooked the two together with the free Jack program, but during the preceding weekend had a lot of trouble getting that to work, and Girl crashed a lot. It was behaving great this evening, however, up until the middle of the next piece, the one in which I customarily process Steve's throat singing. Just as I leaned over to my bag to get the Ebow, Girl crashed, and when I went to bring it back up, crashed again. When I'd turn on an audio input or adjust a ring modulator, the software just emitted horrible loud clicks. I ended up adjusting the audio input and output--apparently corrupted from the changes I made while using Jack--and limping through a few more minutes, actually quite a few more minutes than I remembered. Eventually Girl just popped or crashed again when I set the delay feedback percentage or the ring modulator frequencies. Well, damn. I'd just have to figure this out later.

So for our next number Steve pulled out the melodica and I pulled out the uke with the thought of doing a dub number. I had massive feedback problems, however, and it took me a while before I figured out that I'd had the amp simulator turned up too high. So it was rough, or it seemed so to me at the time. Listening to it now, it took me quite a while to get the dub delay going on the uke. Steve's playing, of course, was brilliant and evocative throughout.

Ultimately, with some echo, the feedback was kind of interesting, although frustrating--I kept having to set the uke down to go forward and adjust the software. And the rhythm pattern (modulated white noise...except for a couple instances of accidental straight white noise) was kind of interesting...although I departed from it quite a bit. Sadly, a bit too loose, and we lost a few audience members during this stretch. Much more compelling in rehearsal, but that just shows the importance of preparation. Ultimately when I brought in some additional samples from rehearsal (bass melodica, rhythm uke that was the same as what I'd been playing) and started soloing, it became a bit more compelling...still a bit too sparse, though. I think by this point I was kind of fried from all the playing and technical problems...and it needs some harmonic development. Time for a serious revision of this piece.

Xanopticon was up next, and started ambient, but soon brought out the noise I'd been hoping for. It was quite surreal seeing this go down in Club Cafe of all places. ("So wrong, and yet so right," said Rob.) One couple who'd hung in there through most of his set were an interesting mystery--we didn't know them, and I wondered if they were Ryan's parents, but no--they did leave about two-thirds of the way through his set. Ah, well.

I'd asked Ryan where the desktop machine was, and it turns out he doesn't need it anymore, since he got an Echo Audio DJ card with additional outputs. He can run two programs at once, run them to different outputs, and crossfade between them externally. Interesting. We did have a bit of time left, so we did a collective improv--with Xanopticon!--which went interestingly. While it took a while for Peter the soundguy to bring Ryan up in the system, Ryan did respond to the rhythm of what we were doing. At this remove, I can't really remember what we were doing, so I'll have to listen to it. Steve was playing straight accordion, and I did some Frisell-influenced echoy guitar through Ableton, but I don't recall much more than that.

Thanks to the Sprout Fund, we all got paid, although not quite as much as I'd hoped, due to the band-centric allocation (we did re-divide for greater equity, although I ended up giving a bit more to Ryan for being the headliner). Overall, a noble perseverence against adversity. Followed by another gig the next night! Stay tuned for a report.

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