Call Sign: EXPERIMENTAL
In the aviation world some aircraft are so beyond the norm and one-of-a-kind that, over the radio waves, air traffic controllers refer to them as ‘EXPERIMENTAL.’
Non-traditional musical acts Bubba Crumrine, a local, and Jordan Sand, of Syracuse, performed solo flights of their own one-of-a-kind explorations on a Wednesday at Sacred Root Kava Lounge in Ithaca.
Other “sound-scientists” presented Wednesday by area Astralands Promotions were the digital-delving clarinetist Jeremiah Cymerman with the night topped off by guitar wielding etherealist Toby Driver.
Meanwhile, wearing a sensible short sleeve one piece dress and puzzle-piece patterned rainbow socks, Bubba Crumrine is performing on a stage lit mainly by rainbow colored landing lights which pulsed overhead and direct our attention to the origin of a wall of sound.
The audience may very well be filled with audiophiles and that lone musician who specializes in playing a kids rainbow xylophone.
More on rainbows but ending on sound….
…white light is the scattering and dispersion of light waves whose collective colors come into refractive fruition as a rainbow. Similarly the experimental performers this night (whether by electronics or their own fine motor skills) delay, compress, pinch, bend, and modulate — giving color to a vast array of sound waves.
Crumrine played a sound-suite with 5 distinct pieces; ‘Stainless Tongue Etude,’ ‘Wale Fire,’ Returnal Hymn,’ ‘Burial of Acres’ and ‘IRA OFF YRSF.’
Some songs didn’t sound so sweet.
Unless your soul resembles the anguish in Munch’s ‘The Scream’ some sounds created by Crumbine shouldn’t be listened to at long stints. Too much exposure could cause dissociation from self. The condition can be remedied easy enough by popping on the closest FM station.
He started opening the sound gates by making you feel like you’re on a Tibetan monastic retreat in Carghill Salt Mine with vocal droning that has delay and reverb applied, followed by an unadulterated acoustic clanging.
At times Crumbine’s performance seemed like a Foley artist perfecting an effects track for a David Lynch film.
The sounds are so startling and provoking that most in attendance kept their devices down unless it was to Instagram the mysterious happening.
Crumbrine creates sounds by jingling a length chain around his neck or rasping a chest mounted metallic washboard with a pair of bottle openers. Then he hits you with an electronic resonance sounding like a giant digital bug whizzing around your head.
Patrons walking off the street and down the steps of Ithaca’s Sacred Root Kava Lounge & Tea Bar have to pop off their sun glasses when entering into a subterranean terra cotta covered floor where the performers play in a mote of darkness. This Wednesday night performers like Jordan Sand are there to be heard and not seen.
Sand has performed in most places around Ithaca but never in the Lounge.
During the sound check Sand tells the sound guy, Paul, “The voice is supposed to sit inside the resonance of the bass.”
She is hoping for lots of sound in the house but little on stage with her.
Great songwriters are able to put themselves into the music to communicate a singular human emotion in a note or phrase. Sand does this at a frantic pace in the style of operatic progressive jazz, with some octive wobbling scat singing thrown in. Each piece demonstrating a full dynamic range of both bass and voice.
Sands performs at times in fast paced reflections of peace and dissonance, as if the vocalist and double bass were to fly apart but are held together by her stirring musicianship. Even after the piece is over she reverberates with the tension that’s been created.
Like a trobairitz (feminine of troubadour) Sand presents her songs like a calling out to the memory of a sacred time by describing simple sweet moments and the chaos that surrounds it. She brings distinction to a musical yin yang, then brings balance with resolving tonal harmonies. Some of the pieces feel like a lullaby for insomniac adults.
Although experimental, what these performances have in common are how they are light on rhythm and heavy on mood.
Some sounds that night perhaps should never be played again for fear the earth is rent open and all things natural and man-made sink into a hole a mile down out of earshot and what remains is awe inspiring mystery.