New Media Art & Sound Summit Weirds Out!

Experimental orgy amplifies the fringe

Brian Eno once said experimental music is “research music. You’re glad someone’s done it, but you don’t necessarily want to listen to it.” This week, the Church of the Friendly Ghost demonstrates science is fun: the New Media Art & Sound Summit, Thursday through Saturday at the Salvage Vanguard Theater, promises the best new research in sound.

“What’s nice about the festival is that it’s a concentrated version of what we do throughout the year,” offers George Pasterk, creative director of the Church of the Friendly Ghost, a nonprofit artists’ collective that exhibits and provides a lab space for experimental art music. This weekend marks the fifth year for the festival.

Though NMASS’ 28 music acts range from the slightly to very obscure, the headliners are well-known in weirder circles. That includes explosive improv sax/drums duo Kid Millions & Jim Sauter, from percussion rockists Oneida and punk-era jazz noiseniks Borbetomagus, respectively. One reviewer described their set as “bar clearing, neighbors complaining, get-your-ear plugs, fun energy improv music.”

Alessandro Cortini, best known for his work with Nine Inch Nails, sets up his thousand-knob system in delivering a restrained and emotive electronic performance reminiscent of a goth Steve Reich. An abstract short by filmmaker Sean Curtis Patrick accompanies his set. Then there’s Richard Devine, modular synth’s sorcerer, who wields the glitchcore power to summon gross and spooky soundscapes.

The rest of the line-up tenders a veritable grab-bag of local, state, national, and international acts united only by their fringe position.

“Even if you’ve seen some of these artists perform all year, they usually save something special for the summit,” says Pasterk.

Raquel Bell, Daphane Park, and Derrick Barnicoat perform a shamanistic healing of Mother Earth with their multimedia rendition of Funkadelic’s lysergic classic Maggot Brain. Titled “Maggots to Riches,” it’s exactly what you'd expect. Composer Laura Brackney, a newcomer to Austin’s experimental scene, collaborates with harpist Sara Watson in combining live and pre-recorded material.

Obviously, NMASS ventures beyond mere music.

Beyond amplification, Austin video art collective Experimental Response Cinema presents films and installations from the collective’s founders and core members. TX Chip invites audiences to generate their own audiovisual experience on heavily modded NES consoles. Finally, Trash_Audio’s synth meet allows attendees to try out modular synth equipment from multiple vendors free of charge.

Study the complete line-up of events here. Tickets on sale now.

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New Media Art & Sound Summit, NMASS, Church of the Friendly Ghost, George Pasterk, Alessandro Cortini, Sean Curtis Patrick, Richard Devine, Raquel Bell, Daphane Park, Derrick Barnacoat, Laura Brackney, trash_audio, Experimental Response Cinema, TX Chip, Kid Millions, Oneida, Jim Saunter, Borbetomagus, Nine Inch Nails, Steve Reich

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