Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Columbus | Sounds

As a follow-up to yesterday’s posts about Columbus bands, here are a few of my favorite experimental artists from around town that you might not be familiar with. If you’ve been reading this for any amount of time, you should already be familiar with David Reed, Ryan Jewell, and Joe Panzner. Here are a few more of our city’s gems:

Brian Harnetty

Brian is probably best known for his recent collaborations with Will Oldham, but he’s been composing his dreamlike Appalachian-inspired works for as long as I’ve known him. One of my favorite performing experiences was playing glockenspiel with him in a trio that opened for Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano.

Ben Bennett

One of our preeminent scrapers, Ben is a percussive cohort of Ryan Jewell. The two of them were jockeying for and pushing each other to creative extremes for a couple years, but they’ve nestled into slightly different niches at this point with Ben concocting a collection of unique breath- percussion-rooted handmade instruments. Always down to throw in a major curveball or two, he is one of my favorite live collaborators.

Rocco DiPietro & Larry Marotta

This is kind of a two-for-one special. Rocco and Larry are the forefront of avant composition and improvisation (respectively) in town, but they are in the streets with the rest of us scumbags. In the last month alone, Larry performed a trio with Ryan Jewell and I and Rocco schooled the Monumental Documents crowd on Bruno Maderna.

Brad Griggs

Noise youth! Despite a lack of releases, Brad never ceases to kill live. He’s easily the best harsh noise artist here and there is no close second. Now if only he’d get his act together and throw some tapes or vinyl out there for the people…


Face Place









This husband-wife Sword Heaven side project is so under-documented and un-google-friendly that I had to dig up a six-year-old clip from the GMBY archives. It’s hard to go wrong with tapes, junk and oscillators, but it’s also hard to hone in on a unique voice that rises above the crowd. These two floor me so much that I’m even willing to post a link to Myspace where you can hear another track.

17 comments:

  1. i like how "experimental" is perpetuated by you and your ilk in such a blissfully unaware ethnocentrism. you call it "the experimental scene"- but what you're actually referring to is a culturally specific music scene. nothing wrong with having your scene, but trying to position the activities therein as representing "the best" of the city/area is insular at best and arrogant at worst.

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  2. I like how you stand by your beliefs so much that you aren't even willing to attach your name to them.

    What exactly is my ilk?

    I referred to these as my favorite artists, and only called one the best at what he does because there are so few doing it and i truly believe that. I also never used the word scene. Please let me know the next time Brian and Brad or Rocco and Face Place share a bill. All some of these artists have in common is the fact that I like them. I don't know who you are or if you're even from Columbus, but I might actually like you too. It's not a list of every artist in the city. Sorry.

    Yours in blissful unawareness, Mike

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  3. this is a great time for being 'anonymous.'

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  4. ok, my anonymous friend, let's talk about assumptions...

    1) 'blissfully unaware ethnocentrism.' now, this doesn't really follow from the above post. many of us, in fact, *are* concerned with the homogeneity of the experimental music scene. let's not confuse what is with what ought be. i don't believe that there's anything so rigidly culturally specific that the experimental music community couldn't be more inclusive, just as i don't believe there's anything so culturally specific about free jazz (*cough*) that would prevent me from appreciating it. i would be pleased as punch to have experimental music be less white and less male, and i'll do my part to make that happen. which includes discussing the issue with comment snipers such as yourself.

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  5. 2) 'you and your ilk.' is that like,'you people?' that's always a solid bridge-builder.

    3) "but trying to position the activities therein as representing "the best" of the city/area is insular at best and arrogant at worst."

    please.

    i'm actually not terribly opposed to internet anonymity in most cases, but if you're going to level a fairly heavy accusation ('ethnocentrism' as code for 'blissfully unaware racism'), then it would be nice to have you just sack up and say it and we could move from there.

    -joe panzner, and i look like this: http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=ZieZJLxa7IM, and i think we should talk sometime.

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  6. moreover, accusing one group of ethnocentrism by invoking a fairly hollow essentialism (don't worry, i know what you mean by 'a culturally specific music scene, wink wink) about our comparatively inclusive 'scene' makes for weak and not-terribly-insightful criticism.

    if there's disproportionate representation of white guys in experimental music, it has more to do with the structural factors that support such practices (some degree of leisure time, funding for gear, financial and social freedom to participate in such 'unproductive' activity) than it does with a constitutive blindness to race issues ('ethnocentrism') or exclusionary attitudes. these are things that are disproportionately available to white males in our society at large. many of us are actively involved in shifting those conditions toward something more equitable so that everyone can enjoy the same freedom to participate - or to participate in new 'scenes' that i can't even begin to imagine. it's incredibly, offensively presumptuous to think there's no awareness of this disparity, and i greatly resent your baseless assumptions.

    it seems like you're in columbus. it's a small city. i'll spare you accusations of cowardice, and instead i'll say that it's just not very neighborly to hide out and take cheap shots.

    -joe panzner

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  7. well spoken joe, but if i had meant "racism" i would have said that. that would indeed be an unfair broadside.

    i use the term ethnocentrism simply because i feel that a lot of the taste-making that occurs with respect to experimental + progressive sounds is done from a culturally specific orientation, and yet is nonetheless presented as if it has some kind of universal validity as THE cutting edge. it should be noted this is nothing unique to columbus, and certainly nothing unique to music as an art form either.

    and no, i don't think this usually occurs from any consciously exclusionary attitude.

    however, i still think there could be some level of recognition that what is being advocated as the most "relevant" and important work and artists, is in fact circumscribed by the cultural values of those who create and partake in it.

    i don't get this sense of perspective from a lot of the language and discourse i read about experimental art and music. what i hear is a very knowing, curatorial kind of tone that positions its sensibilities as the most, well, progressive and enlightened sensibilities that one could have. this goes for local blogs all the way on up to a rag like The Wire.

    i think "modern" has often been a great way for westerns to believe that they've gotten past their cultural baggage, and that everyone's on board for the same futurist trip, but that some of the old bugaboos still manage to board the mothership.

    like the legacy of puritanism. why is abstraction a value in and of itself? is it only because there's some kind of pure aesthetic value in the abstract- or is it also because the abstract is stripped clean of emotive and sensual elements that have historically been purged from a puritanical, repressive cultural mindset? yeah, i know, quit being the armchair sociologist, but i don't think this is really the most outrageous notion.

    these kind of questions would be unfairly essentialist as some kind of absolute indictment of everyone involved, but i feel it's still totally valid to view modern and experimental art in the overall dynamic of western cultural history, NOT as if it exists in some kind of cultural vacuum. yet it certainly seems to get a pass.

    anonymous, yes. coward, maybe. but as you note, this is a small place. not trying to offend friends of friends. i don't look at any of you as some real villains, i just tire of hearing the the kind of knowing, "aren't i enlightened?" tone that seems to be rather common. and no, i don't think i've done the world a favor by pointing that out. i just have had enough and wanted to vent about it.

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  8. "armchair sociologist"

    yes, that sounds about right.

    look, i am going to have one hell of a time arguing against all your ungrounded assumptions. for instance, this business about the supposed universality of abstraction, or the presumption that i believe myself to be in a cultural vacuum or above my baggage or whatever. you can punch that straw man all day. there is not a soul mentioned in this post that believes that. you are so eager to believe in the existence of these boogeymen, in fact, that you showed up to reply to a post that made exactly NONE of these claims.

    please, ask me about the political or cultural implications of my work. i'd be thrilled to answer you. i won't sit here, however, and listen to you tell me who i am so i can refute it.

    'i just tire of hearing the the kind of knowing, "aren't i enlightened?" tone that seems to be rather common.'

    it's not common here. at all. this is your assumption. fucking ask, and put your fucking name on it.

    -joe panzner

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  9. seriously, ask me. no one does. they just jump to your tedious conclusions.

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  10. for example:

    'like the legacy of puritanism. why is abstraction a value in and of itself? is it only because there's some kind of pure aesthetic value in the abstract- or is it also because the abstract is stripped clean of emotive and sensual elements that have historically been purged from a puritanical, repressive cultural mindset? yeah, i know, quit being the armchair sociologist, but i don't think this is really the most outrageous notion.'

    if you ask me for my opinion, this is a thoroughly outrageous notion, and a grave misunderstanding about what i think about abstraction. but you didn't ask my opinion. you invented one to stand in its place.

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  11. Anonymous, I don't necessarily disagree with some of what you are saying, but do not see why you chose this attempt at promoting local artists to my fan base (99% of which live outside this city and state) as the place to air these grievances. There is no need to construct barriers where none exist. Inclusion of A is not exclusion of B.

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  12. Also, I will say that if there is one defining element of this and my list of local bands, it is something neither of you have mentioned: kindred spiritship. More important to me than what anyone does sonically, what genre or subgenre one operates in, or what historically informs one's work, I most appreciate the work of people I can have open dialogue with (verbally or musically) and who are open to what I am putting out into the world. This is why the bulk of the entries include personal anecdotes about the artist/band in question.

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  13. 'there is no need to construct barriers where none exist.'

    exactly. a great way to construct a barrier is by asking people to answer for funhouse mirror versions of themselves. most of us would love the opportunity to shed such antiquated visions of what we do. the wire doesn't speak for me, local blogs don't speak for me -- i speak for me. if you have a question about what we're doing, ask us.

    part of asking for your name is so that i don't have to be suspicious or angry at people that aren't you. they shouldn't have to suffer for your ill-placed intervention.

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  14. and if i seem a bit sensitive about the whole thing, it's because you showed up to rain on what i saw as a great outreach effort -- an attempt to open a door onto the bigger world. mike's great for that. there was no claim that this was the only relevant thing in the world, but an attempt to spread a bit of our complicated and varied perspectives with others. you've barked up the wrong tree, and done it with people in your backyard.

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  15. Joe, that has to be one of the gruffest, most aggressive open door policies around.

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  16. 'there is no need to construct barriers where none exist.' - yeah = that's true. sometimes people create barriers through language and attitudes that speak of complete "insider-ness" and superior taste though. according to joe however, you guys are just as down-to-earth, friendly, and open as can be. i feel bad that apparently i've misjudged you by all of the aloof body language and disinclination to talk to those not already in the inner circle.

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