SF & LA: Happy Valley Band on Tour

3/25/2017 | read


April 26, Center for New Music, San Francisco
with Wobbly (of Negativland)

April 29, Human Resources, Los Angeles, by EMY
with Carolyn Chen’s Signs of Struggle

If you haven’t seen the live show, perhaps that gif conveyed the experience – but if you have, come anyway, because we’ve got a few new tunes up our sleeves and want to give them a whirl.

And if you don’t have the record yet – well, study up, so you can sing along with the cool kids.

Check out last year’s tour trailer if the gif was too quiet for you.

ORGANVM PERCEPTVS: packaging and liner notes

3/21/2017 | read

We’ve talked a lot about the music on ORGANVM PERCEPTVS, but we’d like to take a moment to say a few words about the packaging and credit all the artists involved in this work.

Trio with Madonna

First, in addition to 40-something minutes of insane reworkings of pop tunes pressed on vinyl, the package includes some glorious album art. Let’s start with the cover: artist Elizabeth Torrance, after researching and documenting its curves, produced an exact replica of composer David Kant’s left ear, which was photographed by RR Jones.

Record Cover

On the back of the record, you’ll see a 1980s Apple Macintosh, dissected and opened to the elements.

Record reverse

Inside, you’ll see a kalaidoscopic portrait of Madonna, from her video for Like a Prayer, produced by video artist/composer and Happy Valley Band guitarist Alexander Dupuis.

Sleeve front

And of course a wonderfully hand-letted album title by jacket designer Rachel Cassandra.

Record front

Finally, the extensive liner notes (available as a PDF from the Experimental Music Yearbook) detail the process of creating a Happy Valley Band track, designed by Mustafa Walker.


ORGANVM PERCEPTVS stream & interview in The Wire

2/22/2017 | read

The Wire’s Emily Bick interviewed bandleader David Kant about the process of creating ORGANVM PERCEPTVS, out Friday on Indexical. Head over to the interview, and while you’re at it listen to the full streaming album, available online for the first time.

Pick up a vinyl pre-order of ORGANVM PERCEPTVS from Indexical, and you’ll be the first to receive the full album with a liner notes booklet delving into detail about the process, plus an essay by writer Kurt Gottschalk about the band’s first gig in the Czech Republic.

The new Happy Valley Band album ORGANVM PERCEPTVS is a compilation of pop standards by the likes of Neil Young, Patsy Cline and Madonna interpreted as you’ve never heard them before – because they’re played as computers hear them. HVB’s founder David Kant began the project in 2009, as part of an exploration into auditory source separation and signal processing software. He takes pop recordings, runs them through source separation software to isolate the vocal track, then analyses the remaining waveforms to separate out the rest of a track’s instrumentation, and transcribes the results into hyper-specific sheet music interpretations for HVB to read and perform. Depending on how the original tracks were recorded, effects like studio panning or doubling instrumentation lines, or subtle shifts of pitch, are refracted and amplified through the software in often mystifying ways, resulting in warped interpretations that are unexpected, to say the least.

Read more at thewire.co.uk…

Introducing the Indexical Podcast

2/17/2017 | listen

Thanks to the heroic efforts of Madison Heying and Jon Myers, who have coordinated and planned a series of interviews and episodes for the next couple months, Indexical is proud to announce the first episode of our podcast.

You can subscribe to the podcast directly through iTunes:

  1. Select “File >> Subscribe to Podcast…” (might be something else in your player-of-choice)
  2. Paste in the url http://www.indexical.org/podcasts.rss

Or, if you use iTunes, you can subscribe via their podcast directory.

Or, try clicking: itpc://indexical.org/podcasts.rss

Here’s a description of Indexical Podcast #1:

Madison Heying and Jon Myers take us through a few excerpts of performances from January 2017. Zachary James Watkins and RAGE THORMBONES perform their first-ever trio set, with all three artists on electronic and acoustic setups. Ma'ayan Tsadka’s Underwater Museum of Extinct Sounds and Imaginary Water Creatures explores a post-human Earth through hydrophones, narrated by George Lucas.

If you have any trouble subscribing, please email internet@indexical.org with a description of your error, and we’ll do our best to help.

the shipwreck of the singular

2/2/2017 | read

A few thoughts on our upcoming performance of Antoine Beuger’s piece …of being numerous

In the 1930s, shortly after setting up The Objectivist Press with Louis Zukovsky and Charles Reznikoff with support from Ezra Pound, George Oppen abandoned poetry for activist work with the Communist Party in Brooklyn. Oppen was drafted to fight in the Second World War, but in the 40s he and his wife Mary fled to Mexico out of fear that their political history would attract the attention of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Commission. They did not return until 1958. In 1968, Oppen published the volume Of Being Numerous, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize.

Dutch composer Antoine Beuger writes in the preface for his piece …of being numerous that each of the twenty pages is “a place to dwell.” Beuger’s music requires complete immanence; the score asks us to “listen inward rather than outward.” The materials are simple: a few small stones, dry leaves, humming, a few syllables or words one knows by heart. But the practice of the piece resonates with the opening lines of Oppen’s poem:

There are things
We live among ‘and to see them
Is to know ourselves’.

The existence of the surrounding world is a necessary part of who we are, both as singular selves and as a numerous body—numerous: a quantity of discrete elements, not a volume. Yet we are in a moment of political and social turmoil, and our sense of numerousness is splintered along multiple axes while political forces seek power without consent. If music depends on a certain elemental singularity of the event, and collective singular selves experiencing it—rather than Oppen’s bewildering “shipwreck / Of the singular”—can it still be productive among the splinters?

The frame required by performance is anechoic; the materials of music are often severed from the exigencies of the material world. Critic Michael Davidson speaks of Oppen’s unease with “a world inoculated from experience.” Davidson writes:

Rather than compose elegies for Lenin, as Zukofsky did, [Oppen] channeled his labor in a different direction, joining the Communist Party, organizing tenant strikes, and working as an organizer. … [T]he facts of economic depression at home and the growth of Fascism abroad placed demands on his aesthetics that could not be resolved through aesthetics.

Eventually, of course, Oppen returned to writing poetry, but his focus on the bare materials of language reflected a poetics suspicious of both poetry and politics: “it is only in its reduced, functional state that language may reveal its complicity in the production (rather than reflection) of reality.” The barest elements: a few small stones, dry leaves, humming, a few syllables or words one knows by heart.

I hope that you will join us on February 24 at 7 pm, to experience and participate in this act of being numerous. Beuger’s piece enacts a practice—a way of being—that balances the singular and the collective. It is this way of being that we will need to practice in coming years: maintaining our singularity, and yet still our solidarity.

—Andrew C. Smith, Feb. 2, 2017

Ma'ayan Tsadka: piano exorcisms, post-human museums, speculative soundscapes

1/28/2017 | listen

Jon Myers and Madison Heying sit down with composer Ma'ayan Tsadka to talk about technology-aided piano exorcisms, imagined underwater soundscapes, ancient harmonic fossils, and both the power and danger of protest rhythms to empower either positive social change or violence and hate. Ma'ayan discusses her new work, Museum of Extinct Sounds and Imaginary Water Creatures, in which a small ensemble creates and explores sound objects of hypothetical future underwater worlds, as if curated in a museum exhibit. Ma'ayan describes the evolution of her compositional practice from a more solitary activity involving conventionally notated music in which composer, performers, and audiences were considered separately to a more performative practice where these three roles are blurred and notated scores may no longer be necessary.

Sunday, Jan. 29, join us at Radius Gallery to hear a full performance of Museum of Extinct Sounds and Imaginary Water Creatures.

San Francisco Classical Voice: Indexical Taps a Youthtful Audience in Santa Cruz

1/4/2017 | read

Thanks to the San Francisco Classical Voice for their wonderful feature article on Indexical, published today!

By attending to simple courtesies that new, non-traditional presenters might neglect (starting on time, providing programs) Indexical communicates a message of inclusivity to audience members of all ages and sensibilities — who may be hearing music unlike anything they’ve heard before.

Indexical’s concerts often feature works in progress, and many pieces are improvised — a far cry from the polished orchestral works featured in the city’s most prominent contemporary music organization, the annual Cabrillo Festival. “As for comparing us to the other organizations in town, I think the big thing is that we tend to present the most experimental things we can find,” Smith says. It’s not about being oppositional or revolutionary: “We just kind of do things where we are.”

Read more at SFCV.org.

Listening back, looking forward

1/2/2017 | read

In 2016, Indexical presented a dozen events at venues in Santa Cruz and Brooklyn. Check out the result of that series on Bandcamp, and pick up the full album for free (or whatever you want to give). We truly appreciate the artists’ generosity, and hope you enjoy listening to their work.

First in 2017, the JACK Quartet and Lightbulb Ensemble are coming to Peace United Church of Christ in Santa Cruz on January 13 to premiere three new pieces for the combined ensemble. Building on the success of their 2015 performance of LBE director Brian Baumbusch’s epic Hydrogen(2)Oxygen—called “maddeningly beautiful … magnificent, and as intoxicating as a drug” by the Washington Post—the two ensembles premiere new pieces by three current and former LBE members: Santa Cruz composer Sarang Kim, Wayne Vitale, and Peter Sloan. Baumbusch’s Hydrogen(2)Oxygen will close the concert. Check out a video from their Washington D.C. performance below.

Later in the month, Weston Olencki returns to Santa Cruz with Matt Barbier, as the duo RAGE THORMBONES. They’ll play Timothy McCormack’s hour-plus piece WORLDEATER, with an opening improvised set with Zachary James Watkins of Black Spirituals.

Closing January, Ma'ayan Tsadka returns to Santa Cruz with her Museum of Extinct Sounds and Imaginary Water Creatures, a rare visit to a museum of sounds from the future; and Laura Steenberge & K.C.M. Walker premiere the results of a collaboration on cryptozoology and ritual magic.

Remembering Pauline Oliveros

11/28/2016 | read

We are passing along this remembrance of Pauline Oliveros from Ben Richter, director of Ghost Ensemble. Ghost Ensemble invites you to participate in Oliveros’s Tuning Meditation on Dec. 15 at The Invisible Dog in Brooklyn.

In the meantime, if you would like to donate to Ghost Ensemble’s Hatchfund campaign in support of their December concert, you can do so via the box to the right.

On Thanksgiving morning, we lost the visionary composer and humanitarian Pauline Oliveros.

It’s hard to overstate Pauline’s importance to us as musicians and community members. Without Pauline Oliveros, there would be no Ghost Ensemble. Several of us met for the first time while performing with Pauline in 2010; her works and Deep Listening practice have been an integral part of our music making since the ensemble’s inception.

In 2013, we joined Pauline and the Deep Listening Institute for the official book release of her Anthology of Text Scores, performing three of her works with the composer and audience. It’s one of my favorite memories with the ensemble and with Pauline.

Also in 2013, Ghost members joined Nate Wooley for a wide ranging interview with Sound American about programming and performing Oliveros’s music. More recently, in April 2016, Ghost performed Oliveros’s Pebble Music at Musical Ecologies, and spoke with Dan Joseph in another interview that touched on our interactions with Pauline Oliveros and her music.

She gave us all so much, and her warm, generous, and mischievous spirit will be with us always.

At our concert on December 15 (more information on facebook/hatchfund), we’ll be singing Pauline’s Tuning Meditation, the piece that brought many of us together, and we invite you to join us.

Until we meet again,
Ben & Ghost Ensemble

Stephanie Cheng Smith: Motor Arrays

11/7/2016 | watch

The Experimental Music Yearbook hosts artist Stephanie Cheng Smith in her performance of Motor Arrays, for a computer-controlled bell mechanism with LEDs. Check out the video below, and don’t miss her performance on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Radius Gallery in Santa Cruz.

Also on the program: works by Carolyn Chen, Natacha Diels, Jessie Marino, and Ulrich Krieger.

Vera Wyse Munro’s crystal radio set replica

10/14/2016 | watch

Celeste Oram demonstrates her crystal radio set replicated from Vera Wyse Munro’s designs in mid-20th-century New Zealand. The mechanism of copper wires and glass beer bottles is part of her performance at Radius Gallery, Santa Cruz, on October 29, 2016. Five of these radios will be set up in the gallery, as the entire performance will take place over low-power radio transmitters. Audience members are invited to bring their own radios with headphones to surf the performance on-air themselves!

Check out the video below for a demonstration:

Fall 2016 at Radius Gallery, Santa Cruz

10/2/2016 | read

We’re thrilled to announce our lineup for our Fall 2016 series in Santa Cruz.

Coming this October & November: Celeste Oram’s reconstructions of experimental radio pieces from a little-known New Zealand radio pioneer, Andrew C. Smith’s new piece Reconstruction, for speaking voice and electronics, Byron Westbrook and SCY1E with artificial field recordings, perceptions of presence, and a vague sense of rhythm, and finally the always stellar artists behind The Experimental Music Yearbook presenting work by Carolyn Chen, Stephanie Smith, Natacha Diels, Jessie Marino, and Ulrich Krieger.

Please consider as well supporting our series through a tax-deductible donation. We couldn’t do it without you!

Funding goal achieved!

7/23/2016 | read

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve reached our funding goal for ORGANVM PERCEPTVS, the Happy Valley Band’s debut album. Stay tuned for news on how you can catch the band live this fall.

Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” as heard by a computer algorithm

6/14/2016 | watch

The opening track from ORGANVM PERCEPTVS—Like a Prayer:

We are so excited to have reached our initial funding goal that we are releasing a special video edition of the album’s opening track, Like a Prayer, with digital video plundering by video guru and Happy Valley Band member Alexander Dupuis.

With the remaining 5 days of the campaign we hope to secure as many pre-orders as possible. Please take a moment to share the video on Facebook and spread the word about the Hatchfund campaign.

We have big plans for ORGANVM PERCEPTVS—this video is just a sneak peak—please help us make it happen!


6/5/2016 | read

Happy Valley Band is raising funds for the manufacture of their debut record ORGANVM PERCEPTVS. It’s a collection of 11 songs composed over the past five years, through the use of machine listening technology created specifically for this project. It asks the question: how do we hear, and how can machines help us hear differently? Pre-order the record and make a tax-deductible donation through Hatchfund.

Matching funds for your donation!

4/22/2016 | read

Update: We’re almost there! We’ve raised $800 out of our $1,000 goal. Donate here to help close out our fundraiser.

We have a lot planned for our upcoming series of events, and we need your help. If we can reach our target of $1,000 over the next few days, we’ll be able to provide artist fees and documentation support for the fantastic line-up we have planned. Our friends at Darwin Arts will match the next $200 in donations we receive!

If the shopping cart doesn’t work, visit our profile at fracturedatlas.org to donate.

Darwin Arts specializes in crafting audio and video software products suitable to a wide range of casual and professional artists, computer musicians, sound designers, and media software developers. We strive to design tools which exploit emergent properties, the genetic algorithm, and complex systems as a means of augmenting and extending human creativity.

Darwin Arts Logo

Announcing the Santa Cruz Series: Spring 2016

4/14/2016 | read

Our experimental music series in Santa Cruz continues with Laura Steenberge’s Chant Etudes and Weston Olencki’s performance of HoneyDripper by Michelle Lou (May 14, Radius Gallery). Lightbulb Ensemble performs their evening-length work Mikrokosma for custom-built and tuned instruments inspired by Balinese gamelan music (May 27, Radius Gallery). Finally, the Happy Valley Band brings their machine deconstructions of popular tunes back to Santa Cruz, alongside Zachary James Watkins’s harmonic series drone constructions (June 1, Don Quixote’s International Music Hall).

Finally, Indexical needs your support! As we continue to expand this series into a hub for local and touring experimental musicians, your support is critical to our ongoing success. We hope to raise $1,000 over the next few weeks for artist fee guarantees, venue rental, and marketing efforts to help us grow and plan future events. Indexical is a fiscally sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of Indexical must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

New videos from the Winter Series

4/14/2016 | watch

Check out an excerpt of Catherine Lamb’s trio matter/moving, Weston Olencki’s performance of Timothy McCormack’s trombone solo HEAVY MATTER, Joseph Davancens’s perlin303, and an excerpt from Chris Peck’s work Growth and Fairness, drawn entirely from campaign quotes.

Chris Peck: The Sound of America (from Growth and Fairness)

(All other videos are after the jump.)

Timothy McCormack: HEAVY MATTER

Joseph Davancens: perlin303

Catherine Lamb: matter/moving

Happy Valley Band on Tour

4/8/2016 | watch

Free Download: Lightbulb Ensemble + Ghost Ensemble

4/8/2016 | listen

Two fantastic ensembles perform music by Pauline Oliveros, Brian Baumbusch, and Ben Richter, recorded live in a 25,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Brooklyn. Check out the recording on Bandcamp, and download for free.

A few thoughts on performing Catherine Lamb’s matter/moving

4/8/2016 | read

Catherine Lamb’s trio matter/moving consists entirely of natural harmonics on a retuned contrabass, soft electronic tones that echo and color the sound of the bass, and an improvised trombone part, often barely audible through the texture. There is no metered time, but only breathing in tandem as each phrase builds and then recedes into silence. There is no theme, or modulation, or motive, but instead there is a sound, a working-out of the possibilities of that sound, a continual shift in the center of gravity. (Video excerpt after the jump.)

Within the prescribed motions for the electronics and contrabass, there is a third element in the trombone—what composer/performer Nate Wooley aptly calls a “free agent”—that moves each performance in a different direction. There is always the necessity of exploration, and of listening, and nothing about the performance can be hard-coded.

This was one of the very first pieces Indexical presented (well before we came up with the name Indexical), in 2011, at Willow Place Auditorium in Brooklyn, by Tucker Dulin, Andrew Lafkas, and Bryan Eubanks. Memories of that performance, and of watching Cat work with these musicians over the course of a week, have been essential to our preparation. Thanks to Cat and Bryan for their advice on preparing this work. (Andrew C. Smith)

Friday, March 11, 7 p.m. at Radius Gallery | 1050 River St. #127, Santa Cruz