SXSW Music Review: Byrke Lou

German physicist scans for life and structure with digital soul

Algorhythmist Byrke Lou sparks live code into audio at interfacing crossroads that remained a visual mystery. Intending to project the real-time scrolls of her woman-machine interactions, the Berlin physicist met her match in technical difficulties. Germany Music Night host Christopher Schrag thus implored the audience to “feel the code.”

Photo by John Anderson

Code had a heart, maybe even a soul, when Lou scanned for life and structures within independent and interacting systems. Metrical dives of hiss, boom, and binary breath talked shop with the mezcal-curious clientele coursing through Las Perlas on Wednesday evening. While she patiently activated skim rhythms with plenty of elbow room, the crowd responded in waves of bemusement, pause, wonder, and chatter, which proved you don’t need Springsteen to keep a club buzzy or engaged.

Or put another way, without visual components, sound takes center stage.

Swells of angelic synthetics intervened in exploded views of dicey percussion rolled across long stretches of time where one could easily trip and fall into the measures between. Twice, Lou stepped in front of the laptop’s breathing light to deliver strange verses and vocalizations in harmony with the prospective future of folk music. Unexpectedly organic, she dabbled in a new kind of conversation with the room.

Both progressive and anachronistic, it all sounded as though J.J. Cale crawled into an Ace Tone rhythm unit, started pulling out the wires, and demoed the range of its percussive capabilities one flicker at a time.

Byrke Lou

Wednesday, March 13, 10:30pm, Las Perlas

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Byrke Lou, SXSW 2019, SXSW Music 2019, Germany Music Night, Christopher Schrag, J.J. Cale

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