Roarke Menzies + Samson Stilwell + Ashley Bellouin & Ben Bracken
Assembling materials from everyday objects, recorded sounds of machinery, and the resonances of their own bodies, Indexical presents four artists in a special event at Radius Gallery. Samson Stilwell, a Santa Cruz native living in Portland, creates works that often live within the borders, or between spaces, of language and sound, music and noise, thought space and meat space. The electro-acoustic music of Roarke Menzies, NYC-based composer and sound artist, has been described by The New Yorker as “a layered electronic throb, coming and going, always enhancing but never overpowering.” Finally, Oakland-based Ashley Bellouin and Ben Bracken use minimal structures and simple harmonic relationships to create meditative washes of sound; Bellouin’s work has been called “a wide ocean of calm and tension” by Marc Masters of The Out Door.
Roarke Menzies is a New York City-based artist and composer who uses his voice, mouth and body as sound sources, along with audio hardware, software and field recordings, to create electronic and electroacoustic works. His music has been described by The New Yorker as “a layered electronic throb, coming and going, always enhancing but never overpowering.”
Menzies’s work has been presented at the Material Art Fair in Mexico City, the Spring Break Art Show in New York City, the Untitled Art Fair in Miami, VOLUME in Los Angeles, the Knockdown Center in Queens, Diapason Gallery for Sound and Intermedia in Brooklyn, and many others. His music has also been presented on WNYU’s Bentwave FM, KFFP Freeform Portland, KCHUNG Radio, and BBC Radio 3 as part of the series “New Year New Music: exploring iconic masterpieces, avant-garde experiments and the next generation of talent.”
Menzies has released three solo recordings to date on his own Coup de Glotte label. In a recent profile, Musicworks Magazine described his recorded output as “a consistently compelling collection… Menzies has developed his own take on this rich sonic stream, emphasizing his own voice as the primary signal for processing.”
In addition to performing and recording, Menzies has created scores for contemporary dance, performance and installation, as well as content for games, television and film, with work appearing in the New Museum, the Kitchen, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Watermill Center, the Tribeca Film Festival, IFC Films, VICE Media, the American Dance Institute, the Joyce Theater, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, and many others.
Samson Stilwell works with sound and language to create art within a lyric tradition. His work often lives within the borders, or between spaces, of language and sound, music and noise, thought space and meat space. He received a BA with an emphasis in “The Contemporary Lyric: Poetry, Sound, Visual Media” from The Johnston Center for Integrative Studies in 2015. He was awarded The Jean Burden Prize in Poetry from The American Academy of Poets and his writing has been published by national journals such as The Chicago Quarterly Review, and TheRumpus.net. His first album, “Signals”, will be released in 2017 on vinyl and digital formats by the label Sounds et al. In 2016 he co-founded “Soundspace” a radio-based installation series focused on turning the radio into a space for new modes of listening.
Ashley Bellouin’s work explores the merging of sound art, electro-acoustic composition, and instrument building. She focuses on the studies of sonology, psychoacoustics, and the interaction between sound and architecture. Her compositions emphasize and exploit the sonic potential contained within a single musical gesture, regularly using electronics to develop latent qualities. Spatialization, beat frequencies, auditory illusions, and microtonal tunings are frequent compositional tools.
Ashley holds an MFA in Electronic Music & Recording Media from Mills College, where she studied closely with Maggi Payne, John Bischoff, and Daniel Schmidt. Upon graduating she was awarded the Frog Peak Collective Experimental Music Award for most outstanding thesis. She has presented her work at the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Soundwave ((5)) Festival, the San Francisco Tape Music Festival, UC Santa Cruz, and Stanford University, among other venues. She has additionally been awarded a YBCAway grant from Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and has held residencies at the Paul Dresher Ensemble Artist Residency Center, the UC Berkeley Center for New Media, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, and EMS in Stockholm, Sweden. In November 2016 her debut solo LP, Ballads, was released on Drawing Room Records.
Since 2012 Ashley has collaborated with musician Ben Bracken on both musical compositions and instrument building. Their piece “After Image” is included in the double LP/DVD compilation Gravity Spells: Bay Area New Music and Expanded Cinema Art, released in 2014 by Bimodal Press. Other current and past collaborators include musician Sarah Davachi, filmmakers Paul Clipson, Kerry Laitala, and Madison Brookshire, and visual artists Rick Bahto, Chris Duncan, and Chris Fraser.
Professionally, Ashley has worked for synth pioneers Don Buchla, as his assistant in research and development, and Dave Smith, as a technician at Dave Smith Instruments. She currently serves as Visiting Faculty at the San Francisco Art Institute and resides in Oakland, CA.
Ben Bracken makes music and installations with acoustic and electronic sounds. His work oscillates from performance to installation, often blurring the lines between the two. The location of the event becomes an active participant, intimately shaping the nature and direction of each work. His previous musical groups include Flashpapr, Remote Viewing Ensemble, and Date Palms. Ben has improvised with Le-Quan Ninh, Kevin Drumm, Peter Kowald, Chris Cutler, Phil Minton, Werner Dafeldecker, Fred Van Hove, and Johannes Bauer, among others. He often collaborates with filmmakers and visual artists including Paul Clipson, John Davis, Chris Fraser, and Kerry Laitala. Currently, Ben collaborates with Ashley Bellouin on performances, recordings, and installations with handmade instruments and electronics. He resides in Oakland, CA, and works at Cycling ‘74, the developers of Max, a digital signal processing software environment.
Indexical’s concerts in Santa Cruz are supported in part by the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County.