Friday, October 23, 2009

Juggler's Challenge Revival (Episode 22)!

Set 1 (56 megs)
Break it down! (1.3 megs)
Set 2 (45 megs)

Hey All! Here's another great Juggler's Challenge Revival show, featuring a drummer-less electric quartet of TQ Berg (Guitar), Dennis Jolin (Guitar), Donovan Raymond (Bass and Rapmaster...more on that later! :), and Me Woods (Keyboard and Vocals). By Tuesday, efforts to find a drummer for this one already weren't going well, and so I decided to see what would happen if we tried an electric group without drums. We'd done this before, but usually with an attempt to fill some of the gap with looping. This time, since I knew I'd be racing over from my soccer game at the last minute, I decided to forego the loops -- and even the vocal fx -- and just showed up with an old Yamaha keyboard and a mic.  I have mixed feelings when I say it was a *huge* success for the format! ...mixed because I know so many fantastic drummers. But the vocals were effortlessly audible throughout the evening here (a first for the new format...I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to *sing* more and shout less :), and without the looping, the music organically rose and fell orchestrally in response whatever the movement desired. Even though the guitars are usually what buries the vocals, it seems that it's the drums that set the volume that push the guitars into that territory. Perhaps I can convince some of my drummer friends to come out with simplified hand-drum setups for the next few of these...? I'd really like to try this again!

TQ and Dennis were like stereo treble magic all evening long, 
both playing rhythmically and texturally in a way that elevates the guitar beyond it's stereotypical role in rock music. Both of these guys really work from their tone. They seem to build reactively off of whatever sound is in the air and this really keeps things true! Donovan was typically brilliant on the bass and supplemented this with some ground-breaking work on his Realistic (TM ;) Rap-Master. A tiny radio-shack keyboard with an attached microphone that packs in a couple dozen (?) "awesome" keyboard voices and somehow allows you to sing through a weird shiftable harmonizer at insane volumes without feeding back. There is truly something weird going on with that mic-setup! It would audibly harmonize casual conversations at the other end of the room right through the PA, but wouldn't feed-back unless pushed to ridiculous levels and would nicely clamp any close vocals down to a pleasant dirty crunch. Donovan worked this and his bass (alternately and simultaneously) throughout the evening to truly spellbinding ends.

Thanks to the donated Yamaha from my mom, this was perhaps my first real appearance on keyboard since my last cover-band in the very early 90's.  Oh the memories...  (shiver)

The audience of Challengers for the evening was certainly small in numbers (tiny actually!), but giant in inspiration. The photos from this post include just a few of the sheets they provided. In a way, it was great that it was so slow. It felt a bit like an intimate house-party, and Chloe even had enough time to complete a few sheets -- including two of my favorites: Set 1's epic closer, "Oh Shit, It's a Cactus!" and perhaps our most abstract graphical-score to date (which -- I think -- opens Set 2).

So that's about it for me on this one, except I'll just say that switching back to recording with the external mics (as opposed to the Edirol's built-in pair) has been well worth it! The recordings have been really rich and spacious renderings of the evening's sound. Check 'em out! And let me know what you think here in the comments...


TQ said...

Where is the harmony coming from on your voice?

a woods said...

Crazy huh! If it's the parts I'm thinking of, that's Donovan's crazy Rap-Master thing...somehow it picks up everything and doesn't feed-back. Apparently, Radio-Shack has broken the rules of acoustical physics, but has only just recently figured out how to make check-out take less than 10 minutes. ;))

(actually, maybe that's the trick: it asks the incoming audio for its full address and phone number as it writes them onto a full carbon-copy form with one of a set of variously malfunctioning ball-point pens. This discourages audio that's already been through the line before from ever returning...?)

TQ said...

OK, that's what is going on with my guitar at 38:00 - 40:00 (especially @ 38:47). At the time, it was freaky -- I just thought I was in a weird spot in the room. Given the great serendipitous results, I almost might be motivated to bring out even more gear in the form of an Ableton Live setup. Ugh.

Love the dark stuff at 40:12 - 42:30.

And, of course, "oh shit, it's a cactus was fun-ly perfect too."

Some real good stuff that night.