Polemic – 'Drone is not good enough anymore'

Earlier on in the lifespan of this blog, I wanted to have discussion topics on relevant issues (like this one), but this idea didn’t go very far, mainly because I didn’t want to post topics just for the sake of it. But this one has been bugging me a for a while. And inspired by this recent much-overdue tirade against Harsh Noise complacency, I've decided to open my big mouth.

I don’t think I’m alone in being privately critical of the amount of noise/improv/sound art performers currently who offer live performances that consist of droning tones/noise and little else. I’m going to step up now and publically say that this is no longer good enough to justify me seeing your live performance.

I don’t know if it is my age and the fact that I’ve been seeing a lot of noise gigs for a long time, but it is all getting very old and uninteresting.

We’ve all been there, including myself - ‘People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’ but I’m not throwing stones, I’m issuing a challenge.

Can we make an attempt to make these performances more interesting? Like, more structure than the usual soft/loud or slow to fast oscillations? If you are relying exclusively on drone/noise that does not vary in any other way, your drone better be tonally/texturally a thing of great beauty. Dare we suggest the taboo word ‘composition’? It doesn’t need to mean dots on paper in this sense, just a bit more thought into planning a performance so it isn’t this same old thing.

It is debatable if a straight up noise/drone performance can even be considered experimental music anymore, even in the broadest sense of the term, unless ‘experimental music’ is becoming a genre in itself.

Partly this may be due to the burgeoning live scene over the past few years, as this blog is testament to; a development that is fantastic in itself. But it is time to develop, not stagnate.

Love to hear what people think about this – please post your comments here.

Comments

Anonymous said…
"I’m going to step up now and publically say that this is no longer good enough to justify me seeing your live performance."

This implies that you used to see my live performance in the past!
Cornelis said…
Well, I couldn't agree more with the original post at:
http://solaranus.synthasite.com/index/smash-down-the-fucking-walls-
(+ your post Clinton)

At this site, whenever they mention noise, I've been avoiding those shows for those very reasons.
Apart from starting one hour and a half too late (hey, I have 2 kids!) it's been just crap since I have been here in Melbourne a year ago......

Cor
Clinton said…
Cor, as a fellow parent one good fairly recent development has been afternoon shows in Melbourne - been to quite a few last year or so, including house shows and at Sunshine & Grease to name a few.
CROOPER said…
I might not be a parent, but I hate leaving the house after dark. All shows should allow the patrons to be home in time for a late dinner.

But yeah, HNW and drone suck. I like MUSIC.

Of course there are people who make it interesting. The Bile Worship tape on Magik Crowbar is drone I guess, but it rips.
Clinton said…
I don't necessarily think all Harsh Noise or Drone sucks, just that it seems to be acceptable to do really mediocre versions of it currently. I think the (apparant) lack of structure and abstract nature of these genres means people can "get away with it" easier. I think it is also acceptable to some who take the view that a noise/drone performance is personally cathartic for the performer, and thus allowable. This may be true, but as an audience member there's only so much you can take before you become bored.
Anonymous said…
I agree in some ways with what Clinton is saying, and with the original post on Solar Anus, so much so that I gave up on harsh noise many years ago, and only hear the rarest of things that really grab me by the throat.

In regards to Melbourne drone performances, I have seen a few that don't really make the most of their duration, in that if one has been allotted a 30 minute set, why not be creative, see what you can create within that framework other than one or two ideas stretched out. Try to find where it gets boring and throw in some more ideas.
barnaby said…
Firstly I'd say anything that can be summed up in a phrase such as 'straight up noise/drone performance' is by definition not experimental - but this harks back to the first discussion to appear on this list, and perhaps the word 'experimental' need not always be taken literally.

Secondly, talking about 'lack of structure and abstract nature' maybe implies that we don't have a way of thinking about this music critically. (After all, everything has a structure and almost all music is abstract.)

Maybe that's the point, of course, and the fact that it's beyond critical thought is what makes it experimental. Or it could be that the audience is not forthright enough in calling out a lazy and unimaginative performance.
bxckxtrxdxr said…
It may not be diplomatic, but with issues like these, I think it's best to give concrete examples. Then critical debate can ensue with more precision.

I'm also not partial to slowly evolving, tone generated drone, but I respect its value. I think the issue here, may be one of "good" and "bad" execution? In which case: "name names!"
Clinton said…
I deliberately didn't name names because I didn't want this to get personal or descend into a slanging match. I also think it is a problem that we aren't openly critical, but very understandable because we are all very co-dependent in this scene and no one wants to piss anyone off. Suffice to say that I am talking generally about drone performances with little structure or direction. I think Barnaby's point that we may not have a way of thinking about drone/noise music critically leads back to the original point I was making. A critical appreciation of a musical form must surely evolve with a culture over time, and I think this kind of music has been around long enough now for this to start happening - indeed, my challenge is for a critical approach to this to happen here in Melbourne. Surely drone/noise music not only internationally but also in Australia has enough history behind it for a more critical approach from audiences and artists alike.
scott said…
I have to jump in here, with I guess the first disclaimer that my primary artistic pursuit (just a little cringe at using that term) is the exploration of drones (if that is the only word that can be used for long varied tonal pieces of music) with my project Abre Ojos.

There are kinda two things in here I want to pick apart and another which I'm not going to even go near which is the definition of "experimental" and (god forbid) "music".

1. What is the intention behind the noise/drone? Is the HWN stuff just to inflict pain on the audience, make it seem like the artists are pissed off and want to express that with impenetrable noise, or noise for noise sake? Is it the case that the current batch of (unnamed at the moment) artists think they are doing something new and haven't listened widely enough or had the opportunity to see what has come before and are thus doomed to be stuck in the same self discovery process as other kids using their pedals in ways not described in the manual?
Even if it's bad, or derivative, or just plain offensive, is it still valid?

I can only describe my intention with what I create, and why I create drones- we are so saturated with 3 minute pop songs, to create a longer piece of music (any music) challenges the audience, but also gives them the permission to settle in and be taken on a journey. Maybe if people/the audience are clear of the intention before they sit down, or is it uncool to give it away? Do we have to make up clever descriptions of ourselves as artists/musicians that obscure that were just another person expressing our-self thru our chosen medium? Can it be as simple as "Hard as Fuck, bring ear plugs"?
scott said…
pt2:

2. The journey- I been to some gigs which are like a train journey through the Channel Tunnel - I enter the venue excited by the possibilities of where the acts will take me after the tunnel ride, and am prepared to put up with the hours of darkness (and noise) in the tunnel, but once in there, in the midst of looking at nothing but my reflection back through the window while looking out into the darkness, just hoping for it to end, forgetting about the wonder and loose morals of the continent that awaits me on the other side.

We need scenery, we need variation on these journeys, I agree totally with Clinton about the need for "composition" or structure, listen up noise peeps: silence can be just as powerful as noise.

So back to talking about me again for a sec, when crafting a journey for the audience I have a simple test- am i (as the performer) bored? Has a particular sound gone on too long, not varied enough? That ability to self-censor, to be able to taste yr own shit is important.

Another important part of my performances are to provide audio reactive visuals, not just a shitty VHS tape, or DVD, hoping for some kind of synchonicity, but something that reacts and responds to what is happening, to engage the audience on another level than looking at someone twiddling their knobs, or whipping their hair in time with some fragment of rhythm. Shouts of "but I can't do visuals" start up- find someone who can, collaborate, there are some many digital visual artists in melb that would love to work with some one rather than DJ's, put a "wanted: visualist to work with" ad up on here and see how many replies you get!

Drone is good enough, if it's intention is clear and it is well crafted, we're well past the point of seeing how extreme you can be, we want to hear your vision, we want you to take us on a journey, we might get bogged, see desolate landscapes, the plains of hell or apocalyptic worlds, just as much as you can show us unicorns fucking dolphins, but make it varied, unicorns vs dolphins is only interesting for the first 5 mins, then it's just boring and droll.

Ok enough from me, except if you want to come and see some drone (plus other mixed up stuff) that will truly take you on a journey (no unicorns tho) there is an afternoon gig (I'm a parent too hehe) on at Loop Bar on the 26th March at 2pm (god have I no decency but to end this with self promo, I guess not!).

Great topic!

\m/
Greg Wadley said…
The problem isn't confined to drone. It's worth examining our concept of what live music is. Does our understanding inherit from the days when that was the only way to hear music? In an era when you can hear whatever you like, anytime anywhere, live music needs to do more to be artistically meaningful to people.

It's a hassle to go to a venue, compared it to listening on a cd-player or iPod, and almost nobody does it. But some do - why? Is it to be in the presence of the artist? In the presence of friends? Or booze? Is it the potential for visuals, or improv, or meeting like-minded people, or some other thing you can't get at home? What could live music deliver that it doesn't currently?
Anonymous said…
I like Scott's point of view, and he's spot on about self censoring. Being able to recognize the boredom zones within our own music is an important key to being able to move forward with what we're creating. It has been my intention to make the most of every track, like the journey reference. It can be as simple as a track starting in one place and ending up in another totally different.

In regards to the boredom of live performances, there may be many other things we need to consider as an audience. Is the performer nervous? Are they new to performing? Perhaps they have not yet managed to create more diversity in their set or they just want to get out there and start playing regardless. It might not be as simple as they just don't give a shit or have no talent. But if we're watching someone who has been performing the exact same set for ages then there is not really any excuse for it. There are one or two acts that spring to mind with this problem, but in their circumstances it may have more to do with a lack of time for rehearsing new material.

Perhaps we can name names amongst ourselves to keep this from turning into a slanging match. Scott I think you'll recall a particularly bad performance we once both witnessed, resulting in a broken guitar, but that is another story and nothing to do with drone. Zac.
Brett Woodward said…
Please Aussie experimenters, please, take some risks, be more dangerous and diligent. Lose some sleep and work harder on thrilling us with your music. Add visuals, nude up, perform in a pool of Nutella, wear a cod-piece, speak in tongues, let a nest of Fire Ants loose, use a rectal microphone.

Speaking of rectal microphones, nice job Solar Anus for lighting the fuse. Excellent follow-up by Clinton and the various comment contributors. I own a ton of drone and noise CDs and will practically jump on a tram to watch someone contact mic their skinned knee, pick the scabs and play it back at jet-engine volume. But I'm spending more time patiently bored than excited at too many 'experimental' shows these days.

Aussie experimental musicians need to get more experimental. Ponderous, monochrome, angsty, uninspired, lazy, copyist knob-twiddling by dabblers is starting to keep me at home.

I'm buying less local CDs because I can't tell them apart. I too dig an arvo show so that if three of the seven performers are just running a hair-dryer thru a Big Muff pedal and a Ring Mod, I can still be in my jim-jams with a cocoa at a reasonable hour.

The benefit of being a geezer is that over the last 30 years I've listened to - and occasionally agreed with - every "But you don't understand...", "You see, it's a reaction to...", "How do we define...", "You can't dictate artistic expression..." argument that defenders of bland noise trot out.

But, if you let wishy-washy, uncreative, pedestrian nonsense go unchallenged, it eventually kills experimentation with its diluting effect.

Remember in Primary School when you mixed all the colours of plasticine together and it always went grey?

OK, now pass me my Haemorrhoid cream, that afternoon show at Loop sounds good. And if we're signing off with self-promos, please pick up a copy of my Merzbow book from Missing Link, otherwise I'll have to get a real job - Brett Woodward
Mister X said…
I went to Loop bar to watch a performance I saw on this website. I'm a pretty new attendee but I think it fitted partly into the drone/noise category. I want to describe this to you so you mite get an idea in your mind which I think supports the original comment.

A guitarist and bass player stood in front of some film footage making noise that didn't really develop anywhere for about 20 or so minutes, completely unrelated to the footage going on the screen behind. The bass player spent most of the time hitting the bass with a drum stick which was all very avant-garde but took us nowhere.

The chick in the other room started up the droning thing on her small organ, visuals in the background, then added some guitar over the top and her performance was better - possibly also because she was hot looking and glammed up. But I think there was some development there and a lot more thought went into her performance.

There was another forgettable performance of guitars feeding back thru amplification and some pretty bad vocalising over that. Very uninspiring.

The last performance was "Superusers" and this guy was the standout master. The sound and visuals were integrated and his performance developed thru time. You can watch his performance on the Internet.

So I don't wish to be too critical but the first guys (guit + bass + film) were totally unimaginative and I suspect they were image seekers and interlopers in this scene. The chick and Superusers had far more legitimacy and actually thought about what they were doing.
Lloyd Barrett said…
I think we are coming to an agreement and it seems to be mostly about structure and intent. Don't think you can just drone on endlessly because Elaine Radigue does or make 70mins of harsh scree because Merzbow does. You are not they.
One of the best harsh noise drone things I've seen in recentish years has to be Markus Schmickler. He was boring to look at with his laptop but that was kinda signalled by "lights off". Close your eyes and let the frequencies immerse you. He was doing nothing new, very well. Thomas Koner on the other hand had a dull video that I sat there trying to work out what after effects plugins he used on and really dull rumbling drones that went nowhere.
In Bris the problem is also where to play and these days I dunno where you'd go to see a good drone gig since all the available venues cater towards droning indie rock bands.
Andrew McIntosh said…
Interesting that the consensus seems to be to demand more from those who play live. I'd join with it. A while ago I realised there's few things duller than both watching, and performing, what basically amounts to a rehearsal in front of an audience. It's a long-term problem within experimental music; from complaints about laptops (many of which I've made myself) to the point Clinton's making now about unimaginative sound.

I don't think it's just entry level individuals who are infatuated with the sounds their equipment makes. I can name names; at least two local drone producers who have a few years of experience who pretty much have done the same thing each time I've seen them. I'm not going to name names, though, because I just couldn't be arsed getting into any dramas. Suffice to say, there is an infection of the unimaginative in one of the most imaginative forms of music.

One thing, though; gimmickry can be just as bad. With due respect to Mr. Woodward (and I intend to get that Merzbow book), simply adding a few visual elements to what you already do can lead to complacency in that area. I've been to gigs that have featured visuals but can only think of one performer - Shinjuku Thief - who has truly demonstrated how audio-visual should be done. The difference is stark and seeing/hearing it done properly makes you realise what can be done, and how weak a lot of things are currently being done.
I take his main point, though; take risks. Meaning, expect to fail if necessary. I've done that; my last performance did nothing for me at all, despite positive feedback from the punters. The spark of inspiration needs to be there in the first place, otherwise you're just taking up time and room.

I think a lot of people forget that a live performance is just that - a performance. I know the arguments about concentrating on your sounds and all the rest of it but if the issue now is that the sounds themselves are dull and unimaginative it compounds the problem of sitting there watching someone stare at their gear for twenty minutes or so.

So, I agree with Clinton. It's not enough to play with your knobs. I'm not going to suggest what people should do, that's up to them. If they've got original ideas that are any good, that will show without having to be defended (I'm thinking of Abre Ojos here). It's not just about drones, it's about droning on with no point or purpose. We're all very familiar now with "experimental" sounds and whether it's composition, improvisation or total aleatory music, it has to have that real spark of inspiration to make it work. And it shows.
Clinton said…
I think Drone music as we are speaking of it is an aspect of minimalism, which in various other forms (both in various musical practices as well as other art forms) experiences similar problems of quality. On the surface, minimalism (and drone music, and especially harsh noise) by its very nature seems simple to recreate, and this invites many imitations (I don’t mean ‘imitation’ in a negative sense necessarily; I am sure the majority of people doing the drone music that bores me are passionate about what they do. This talk of ‘scene interlopers’ is quite funny – why would anyone want to infiltrate a scene where these is no money to be made, has little outside cred and small audiences?). Yet to create a truly enthralling (even transcendent) piece of minimalistic art is extremely hard to achieve. Lloyd mentioned Elaine Radigue and droning on endlessly – except her work isn’t just static tones, there is subtle development of pitch and timbre in her classic work. The fact that it may take you about ten minutes to realise the development is happening is what makes Radigue’s particular brand of drone minimalism sublime. Add Phil Niblock, La Monte Young and Tony Conrad to that set (Conrad’s anticipated four hour performance with Charlemagne Palestine at the Melbourne Jazz Festival this year may turn out to be lesson for us all). Drone may be easy to do, but perhaps not so easy to make remarkable.

I think the traditional live format of 30-40 minute sets is also a problem for drone artists. Instinctively, drone artists want to do one continuous piece. This is problematic for audience members like me if your drone doesn’t cut the mustard, because by the 5 or 10 minute mark I know that I’m not interested in what I’m hearing, and worse, that it’s not going to develop significantly for the next half hour or so (stuck in that dark Channel Tunnel Scott mentioned). In some ways, I think drone music is more suited for much longer durations, like the great ‘classical’ minimalist works (Feldman comes to mind), but of course this is not always viable. Perhaps instead, drone artists could limit themselves to smaller pieces, perhaps two or three distinct ‘tracks’.
Anonymous said…
God, all this intellectual drivel. Look, seriously, the problem is that you people aren't stoned enough at these gigs!
Mister X said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
boredom is good. if you want 'interesting', don't see 'drone'. the word 'drone' itself is a good indicator here.

my ideal drone gig would be extremely boring shit with no visuals whatsoever - not even house lights. pure darkness, pure (loud) black drones... immersive environmental stuff that relentlessly folds you inwards.
Andrew McIntosh said…
Clinton, might want a touch of administration with some of these comments. Particularly those from whoever it is who doesn't even want to back her/his words up with a name.
barnaby said…
Contrary the comments of one of our anonymous contributors, I don't think there's anything wrong at all with a bit of intellectual discussion. It would be great to have a bit more of this kind of thing on this blog, alongside the gig notices.

Discussion about 'Drone' per se perhaps belongs in a separate thread (I will start one when I get a moment) - despite the title, I think Clinton is mainly bemoaning substandard performance.

The last Anonymous post has a point in that 'interesting' is maybe the wrong word, maybe for 2 reasons:

- 'interesting' implies eventfulness and variety. These are common goals but not the only ones. La Monte Young shows us that a musical performance need not vary at all. Similarly, Cage demonstrated a long time ago that overwhelming variety and multiplicity leads to a similar place, and is equally valid. (Incidentally, variety can be introduced purely as a surface feature to keep the mind engaged - Steve Reich's Drumming being a good example.)

- 'interesting' appeals to the intellect. Music and sonic art also function on a visceral, sensual level that has nothing to do with intellect.

Arguably, 'interesting' is a rather middlebrow aspiration that is nice, but not crucial.

'Composition' however, in its broadest sense, is something I'd like to see more of. I'm a bit surprised to hear it's a taboo word - but if it is, then surely that means it's worth exploring?
Clinton said…
Andrew, I thought about blocking some of the sexist comments, but decided against it in the interests of open discussion.
Lloyd Barrett said…
I think the Anonymous stoner does have a semblance of a point. I used to have a greater tolerance for unimaginative drone music when stoned... but maybe that is because my brain is doing all the work?

It's hardly intellectual masturbation though to consider that musical forms need not require stimulants to be enjoyable. Then again isn't the entire "band" scene in Australia somewhat reliant on the need for punters to get shitfaced meeting the need for venue owners to get paid in order that they can book more bands for the cycle to continue?

Interested that the conversation seems to also be turning towards sound & image... Superuser Scott Sinclair is indeed a great example as he combines use of his body with audiovisual stimuli in a predominantly real-time performance that also has elements of composition required in its presention.

I recall having a conversation with Clinton and a number of other people that essentially boiled down to the idea that anyone using a laptop is boring... i think Scott demonstrates ONE way forward. I myself am much more body-image conscious though so for me the challenge is to compose interesting audio and video elements AND be able to manipulate and change them in real-time whilst distracting the audience from the perceived need to stare at me while i'm doing this.
Andrew McIntosh said…
Barnaby, I think that the idea of composition might seem a bit remote for some people. I don't believe it's taboo so much as something that people don't relate to with their own work. Remember when I was musing over the possibilities of being a composer on Facebook? Clinton had to point out that composing is not necessarily about specific education/training and not only about notation. It may be that many others see composition in the same light, which is why it's not seen as relating to what they do.

Could the word "structure" be used in this context?
Mister X said…
Thanks for not blocking me Clinton and for allowing anonymous comments to be posted. It's liberating to be able to participate without fear of persecution.

I re-read my previous comments and the responses and should apologize for offending anyone. I'm not very bright and I sometimes get in trouble with lack of appropriate communication skills.

I was trying to indicate that the woman's performance had an integral sexual element to it, but I was unable to express this in the appropriate manner.

I think also I have been commenting on a wider range of performance than strictly drone/noise. Eg the Make It Up Club bills itself as "avante garde" and "improvised" so I probably should have been more discerning.
Troy said…
A dude I know is studying / researching into how the body makes tiny electrical impulses in the areas of movement that we see when we watch a live performance.
So concerning live music performance, if all we see is somebody sitting or standing behind a laptop, our body does not do much.
But if we're watching somebody jumping around or being quite physical, our own bodies will somewhat mimic what we see by sending those small impulses to the same areas that we see moving.
Lisa said…
My name is Lisa, not "the chick." I always wear knickers, despite your fantasing to the contary. And if I find out who you are, I will hunt you down and I can assure you that you'll be very sorry when I do.
ianw said…
thanks Lisa for drawing my attention.. what a read. This thread raises all sorts of prickly issues.. (as I've already said elsewhere, the remarks of Mister X are, one would be mistaken in hoping, so dumb you might think at first it's satire). And what does the word 'drone' mean anymore? And in a scene where one misplaced comment (anonymous or not) can derail all sorts of friendships and understandings.. I am reminded (by Lloyd's comments about Markus Schmickler) of a set I played, the same night (I hate the word Drone, but I do set up high pitches with which to subsequently harmonize) which was very nicely reviewed (by Joel Stern) - I was so pleased with the show I mastered the recording - and then I found a review (scathing, which would be fine if it wasn't so loose with the truth) by Joe Musgrove, in which he mentions strumming (and technical difficulties) that didn't happen, and concludes that it didn't come close to what was intended (ie. which is quite untrue). Here it is, 4th article down, and here is Joel's (more agreeable to me) review. And here you can hear it, if you care. I think I agree with the general drift, btw, of Clinton's opening gambit; I'm just weighing in with some ('listen to me!' disguised as) thoughts on terminology and it's mis/use in this crazy backslapping/backbiting experimental scene.
Wasp Summer said…
"It's liberating to be able to participate without fear of persecution."

"Andrew, I thought about blocking some of the sexist comments, but decided against it in the interests of open discussion. "

Mister X and Clinton - blatant, crass sexism isn't valid participation or open discussion. Mister X seemed to like Lisa's performance but couldn't be arsed finding out her name, let alone giving her the respect due a talented musician or, indeed, any person. Re-gender his statements and see how absolutely ridiculous and offensive his comments were.
Clinton said…
Fair call, Wasp Summer. Mr. X's sexist comments were ridiculous anyway, but I allowed them to be published as he was basically the only one who criticised local performers who we could identify (and not all his criticism was invalid or sexist). In retrospect, I should've asked Mr X to edit out the sexism before publishing his comment.
Monica said…
I was shocked to read the blatantly sexist comments about a performance by Mystic Eyes. The anonymous writer displays cowardice and should not hide behind a claim of wanting liberation from potential persecution.
I feel that the administrator of this blog needed to alert the person responsible that he was way out of line and why. I can't help but wonder if there would have been the same lack of an appropriate response to Mr X's comments if he had written something openly racist or homophobic. It seems you can still write about women as "chicks" who are "fertile" making music that gets them hot and it is dismissed as open discussion. How disappointing!
Zac said…
Prt 1) Does anyone wonder what has inspired the newer breed of drone makers? My earlier experience came from harsh noise in my teens, working with gadgets and slowly moving into subtle forms of sounds using guitar as the foundation source. Also the excitement of watching acts like Merzbow, KK Null, or MSBR using an array of gear to create their streams of sound, or Daniel Menche utilising contact microphones and blocks of salt which he'd tear apart to create a huge cacophony of sound. These people left me with the impression of wanting to be consumed by what I have to do and for the live performance to be a struggle in creating the sounds, with a constant physical relation to whatever I'm doing, which means NO looping devices or periodically standing back with the loopers continuing by themselves while I stand around taking swills of my drink, completely spoiling any atmosphere. I see quite a lot of sound artists nowadays that seem to apply this technique that using loopers or phrase samplers with one or two pedals and nothing else is ok, whereas I see it as lazy and unimaginative. It could be that this trend has led to complacency towards boring drone music in the live arena. Clinton, I believe we even had this conversation once about lazy looping after going to a show together?

This is not a blanket mindset on my part and I know plenty of local artists using loopers as a "minor" part of their setup, the difference being that they still have plenty of other ideas on how to make an interesting set. Automating, Mystic Eyes, Seth Rees, JK Fuller, Undecisive God: used to do great things with a loop pedal while molesting or bashing his guitar (again, the physical relation to sound making) Barnaby Oliver is a great one for technique based sound making, Scratchplate: Dimitra has performed sets with a combination of layered vocals, guitar and amp noise all blended together quite nicely with some light looping.
Zac said…
Prt 2) Visuals: I feel that having a visual element is extremely important and the best thing the performer can do is make it not boring. Making sure that the sound works with the visual element is the challenge, I have a 30 minute film of moving imagery titled "Amanecer" that was culled from various nature footage created by someone else without my input (which was intentional), and creating the live guitar soundtrack to this footage afterwards was extremely difficult on several levels: of timing, pacing, and editing my natural inclinations of how I play, and although I have performed this set numerous times over the last two years (and quite a few of you have seen it) it still continues to be in work with slight alterations during each set to see how if I can improve it further for an audience. The majority of feedback has been very positive so it seems to be doing something right. I think having a film with a set time limit and possibly alluding to this up front can work with an audience. I have often announced who I am and I am performing this short film and live soundtrack for x amount of minutes, so whatever happens, good or bad, at least the audience is aware of it only lasting a certain amount of time and it may make them more amenable to be involved in the visuals or the idea.

For any of us, if we're going to take our projects live, then we have a responsibility to anyone watching and need to ask ourselves: Are we thinking from an audience perspective? Am I playing this sound for too long, am "I" bored with it, if the answer is yes then it needs further refinement. This is a worthy consideration we need to make, seeing as we attend so many shows and know what we like and dislike about them. If every performer continues to evaluate their own work and performance, maybe it could result in better experiences for an audience? But as much as we need to consider them, they still need to contribute and be involved with what we're doing. My motto is "make the most of the duration". If you're performing drones and have a 30 minute set, try and put together 3 distinct pieces. Make the set shift, evolve, ebb and flow, don't overuse each idea or worse, stick with one idea only.

Mister X, I don't know what you're on but I've caught Lisa's Mystic Eyes set at least five times now and there is nothing at all sexual about it. Unless the logic is as base as that it must be sexual merely because she's female and dressed up to perform? I also know that she is very serious about what she does and a prime example of a drone performance with thought, subtle shifts and varying tones strategically employed throughout different parts of a set.

Keep talking everyone, this thread has died in the arse already?
boz said…
rock n roll will never die but drone will fade away
Anonymous said…
I agree. From what I have seen from the bands in Adelaide, calling your band 'experimental' just means they don't know how to play their instruments. They seem to think they sound like Robert Fripp and other pioneers, failing to realise that this sort of music was experimental in the 60s & 70s because back then it hadn't been done before. 40 years on it's just derivative.

Orsino Nation are an experimental art music band who aren't predictable. http://www.orsinonation.com