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Indie and Electronica Music Artists Converge for Bleeding Edge Festival PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michela Pilo   
Jul 13, 2006 at 01:46 PM

Indie and Electronica Music Artists Converge for Bleeding Edge Festival, August 13

SARATOGA, Calif. – Artistic expression goes beyond the cutting edge with the Bleeding Edge Festival at Montalvo Arts Center on Sunday, August 13 from noon to 10 PM. The festival represents a major music and sound component of the ZeroOne San Jose: A Global Festival of Art on the Edge, a new, international caliber contemporary art festival featuring creativity at the intersection of art and technology, taking place in Downtown San Jose. The Bleeding Edge Festival features 20 bands performing on four stages throughout the Montalvo grounds. A free shuttle service will run on the hour from San Jose’s McEnery Convention Center starting at 11 a.m.

If the term “cutting edge” identifies the most adventurous and progressive forms of artistic expression, the Bleeding Edge Festival promises to be an exploration of the messy aftermath, the fluidity of genres that follows in the wake of the transgressive cultural moment: post-electronic, post-independent, post-fringe. The festival is loosely divided into two categories, “experimental electronic” and “indie rock.”

“Bleeding Edge is a full-day immersion in music that is both aesthetically rich and conceptually innovative,” said Robert Crouch, who with Brett Allen of SnowGhost Sound Studios is serving as co-curator of the festival. “Festival goers will have the chance to experience original music and live performances that defy traditional genres.”

Experimental/electronic artists will include: Richard Chartier, William Basinski, Tim Hecker, Skoltz_Kolgen, Frank Bretschneider, Portable and Frivolous. Indie rock artists include: Yo La Tengo, Greg McGrath, The Chemistry Set, Robert Stillman's Horses, Luke Temple, The Avett Brothers, Luther Russell, Flying and Brightblack Morninglight. Artists ISIS, Matmos and Zeena Parkins, Black Dice and Sunroof! resist such categorization altogether , moving deftly between metal, ambient, glitch, noise and psychedelia.

The festival features two unique partnerships that embody the Bleeding Edge’s approach to cross-genre exploration. Electronic musicians Matmos and harpist Zeena Parkins, both of whom perform regularly with Bjork, will collaborate, and art-metal band ISIS will collaborate with ambient electronic artist Tim Hecker. These artists will participate in a residency at SnowGhost Sound Studios prior to the festival to create new music, which will then be premiered on stage at Bleeding Edge.

Matmos is M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel, aided and abetted by many others. In their recordings over the last nine years, Matmos have used the sounds of: amplified crayfish nerve tissue, the pages of bibles turning, a bowed five-string banjo, slowed down whistles and kisses, water hitting copper plates, the runout groove of a vinyl record, a $5 electric guitar, liposuction surgery, cameras and VCRs, chin implant surgery, contact microphones on human hair, violins, rat cages, tanks of helium, violas, human skulls, cellos, peck horns, tubas, cards shuffling, field recordings of conversations in hot tubs, frequency response tests for defective hearing aids, a steel guitar recorded in a sewer, electrical interference generated by laser eye surgery, whoopee cushions and balloons, latex fetish clothing, rhinestones on a dinner plate, Polish trains, insects, the ukulele, aspirin tablets hitting a drum kit from across the room, dogs barking, people reading aloud, life support systems and inflatable blankets, records chosen by the roll of dice, an acupuncture point detector conducting electrical current through human skin, rock salt crunching underfoot, solid gold coins spinning on bars of solid silver, the sound of a frozen stream thawing in the sun, a five gallon bucket of oatmeal. Zeena Parkins, multi-instrumentalist, composer, improviser, well-known as a pioneer of the electric harp, has also extended the language of the acoustic harp with the inventive use of unusual playing techniques, preparations and layers of digital and analog processing. Parker makes use of anything within reach as a possible tool with which she can play, prepare or otherwise enhance the sonic capabilities of her harps. She accurately describes her harp as a "sound machine of limitless capacity" and has used, among numerous household objects, alligator clips, bows, jar lids, oversized metal bolts, guitar pedals and the Eventide Ultra-Harmonizer controlled by MAX/MSP in order to achieve her extended palette.

Montreal composer Tim Hecker (Alien 8, Mille Plateaux) produces dense, hallucinatory collages of volume and textures. With a subtle nod to seminal indie-rockers My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins, Hecker buries delicate melodies deep within waves of granular washes and dissonance, enticing the listener to explore with him ever-shifting fields of tension, vibrations and resonance. Los Angeles band ISIS (Ipecac) explores terrain very similar to Hecker. If considering Tim Hecker to be a post-punk musician dressed in ambient clothing, ISIS is an ambient group employing the tropes of post-rock and metal. Best known for their use of down tuned guitars, minimalist repetition and slowly evolving chord progressions, ISIS also builds massively dense and beautiful walls of feedback, noise, volume, weight and texture. By employing the familiar structure of “guitar rock,” their compositions allow the audience to enjoy the experience as both minimalist drone as well as a set of smartly crafted songs.

Flying is a collective of four artists translating magic words and mysterious noises into chaotically sweet and ardent performances. Howling, complex, disheveled, gentle and playful, their music is at once intimate and otherworldly. It is new-dream-out-jazz-pop-noise-folk, invoking spirits Stevie Wonder, Sun Ra, Brigitte Fontaine, and Os Mutantes. Contemporary points of reference include Animal Collective, Maher Shalal Hash Baz, and Deerhoof.

Minimalist composer Richard Chartier (Raster-Noton, Line, 12k) pushes his work into the furthest fringes of the audible spectrum. Programmed as well as improvised, calculated yet intuitive, his live work has been described as “ecstatic” and mesmerizing. Chartier’s work allows the listener to consider the elusiveness of sound as a subtle physical experience.

A classically trained clarinetist, composer William Basinski (2062, Raster-Noton) was inspired in the late 1970’s by minimalists such as Steve Reich and Brian Eno to develop his own vocabulary using tape loops and old reel-to-reel tape decks. Basinski is best known for releasing the sprawling four-disc set The Disintegration Loops, described by Pitchfork Media as “the kind of music that makes you believe there is a Heaven, and that this is what it must sound like.”

Montreal “pluri-media duo” Skoltz_Kolgen (Mutek, Line) and Berlin’s Frank Bretschneider (Raster-Noton, 12k) have both extended their explorations of digital rhythms and synthetic timbres into the visible spectrum. Skoltz_Kolgen will present FLÜUX :/ TERMINAL 5.2, the most current version of this vanguard audio/visual project. FLÜUX :/ TERMINAL has been described as “synchronicity of laptop sounds and projection imagery. When spidery skeins of geometric shapes and armatures of 3-D terrain modeling flowed across the two screens, abrupt sonic ruptures pulverized those shapes into new configurations.” Frank Bretschneider has incorporated visual art with music for several years now, from his early collaboration with celebrated visual artist Olafur Eliasson (Aerial Riverseries) to his own digital audio/video projection pieces (Balance with Taylor Deupree and Looping Vol. I-IV). Bretschneider’s trademark icy-sharp, glitch-fused funk and synchronized structuralist videos have earned him international accolades for being one of the foremost composers of minimal dance music.

South Africa’s Alan Abrahams, a.k.a. Portable (Background Records, ~scape), will showcase his unique African-flavored tech-house, featuring syncopated percussion and click-house beats. Born and raised in an impoverished township outside Cape Town, South Africa, Abrahams got turned onto popular music by his sister at an early age. He soon gravitated to the explosive sound of Chicago house and developed his signature sound. His most recent full length CD, Version, has been described by Stylus Online as “ a melancholy opus that drags you into its web, a futuristic, coherent take on African music.”

Daniel Gardner’s’ Frivolous (Karloff, Background Records) project is equally funky and eclectic, though more along the lines of house music re-imagined by a precocious child afflicted with a particularly nasty form of ADD. Stemming from his early training in classical piano and interests in electronics and DIY culture, Gardner has created Frivolous, a phenomenal “one-man performance” where sounds are triggered by a sandwich-maker, a telephone and an electro-magnetic knife, brandished while wearing a chef’s hat or full-body skeleton suit. Critics have described his live show as "witnessing a mad scientist at work."

Yo La Tengo’s place in rock history is unique. The personal and musical partnership of Ira Kaplan (guitars/vocals/keyboards) and Georgia Hubley (drums/vocals), with the addition of James McNew (bass & more) in the early 90s, has been one of the most intimate and secure musical alliances in history. Few bands in memory dare to experiment quite so widely with such casual audacity. From screeching art-rock and jangling pop songs to electronic soundscapes and hushed lullabies, Yo La Tengo’s music explores the range of musical history without ever sounding less than modern.

Greg McGrath is a songwriter from the Miami area who is known for his catchy but multi-dimensional songs. Earning a master’s degree in creative writing, Greg decided to apply his ability for the short story to writing songs. He has a large fan base that he maintains an intimacy with through his personal songs. His latest record was recorded at SnowGhost Sound Studios, in collaboration with Kris King of Lansing Drieden and Brett Allen.

In 2002, after years of working at an all-Tasmanian health food store and reinventing the Vietnamese language, Stephen Duncan decided to take a stab at songwriting. Fate quickly joined Duncan with Meredith Knoll, Cory Helms and Josh Hoover to create The Chemistry Set. Their music comes from a wide spectrum of influences ranging from David Bowie and the Beatles to the Flaming Lips and Led Zeppelin. The Dallas Observer and Dallas Music Guide named their self-titled debut album among the best local releases.

Horses is a collection of songs by instrumentalist/composer Robert Stillman. Stillman uses an eclectic sonic palette consisting of saxophones, clarinets, old pianos, pump organs and drums to create short musical narratives that exist on their own, but also work together to create a vivid, self-contained world echoing the composer’s interest in all things mysterious. In December 2004, Stillman and a group of his closest friends from Maine and New York holed up in Seattle’s Avast Recording Company with engineer Troy Tietjen (The Decemberists, Death Cab for Cutie) to record the Horses repertoire, emerging a little over a week later. It’s clear the music on Horses exists on its own terms, a detailed musical territory unto itself.

Simply put, great songwriting born of experience can’t be disguised. Fortunately, Luke Temple's material had made it all the way to Seattle’s Mill Pond Records. Temple quickly signed with the label and moved to the fertile grounds of the Pacific Northwest’s historic and bustling music community. His compositions drip with masterfully bluesy fingerpicking, smooth, gentle vocal intonations and plaintive backyard lyricism. Temple is currently touring in support of his new LP Hold A Match For A Gasoline World on Mill Pond Records.

The Avett Brothers are known for the wall of sound they generate with acoustic instruments. Over the past year, the trio have made a name for themselves in their live performances, which prove to entertain and enchant a wide, diverse audience. The intensity at which the Avetts pour their angst, heartache and love into each show has captivated crowds across the country, and it's those audience reactions that propel The Avett Brothers to continue.

Luther Russell, born and raised in the Los Angeles area, played in The Bootheels and the 45’s before forming The Freewheelers. The Freewheelers went on to record for Geffen and American. Russell is indeed a great record-maker, as his rock albums by the long-lamented Freewheelers and his productions of several Oregon-based artists will attest. Yet as a songwriter, he is also clearly carrying on the tradition of songwriting troubadours. Russell is now slated to release a much-anticipated record Repair, produced with Ethan Johns.

Brightblack Morninglight (Matador) combines the rich gospel-influenced vocals and piano of Alabama natives Nathan D. “Nabob” Shineywater and Rachael “Rabob” Hughes with Elias Reitz’s woven thunder of bells, tabla and other chiff-chaff-clap-boom percussions and Noah Wilson’s own drumkit beats. They have written songs and toured with bands including Bonnie Prince Billy, White Magic, Women & Children, Papa M, Joanna Newsome, Vetiver, Entrance, Gojogo, Daniel Higgs’ Magic Alphabet and Lungfish, and recently made their UK debut at the Slint-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties.

England’s Matthew Bower performs under his Sunroof! (Skullflower, Total, Hotogitsu) moniker, perhaps the most fuzzed out, psychedelic incarnation of his many guitar/noise/electronics projects. Bower incorporates a series of stomp boxes, cheap synths, a mass of cables and vintage amps with which to build his wall of sound. Matthew Bower is considered to be a pioneer in the current UK avant/noise freeform scene and has recorded and performed with a number of prominent artists including Richard Youngs, Vibracathedral Orchestra and Sunburned Hand of the Man.

Brooklyn art-noise band Black Dice (DFA, Astralwerks) consistently pushes the boundaries between punk, noise, psychedelic and dance music. Equally at home in an art gallery or club venue, Black Dice never fails to deliver the most assaulting and loud live shows ever unleashed upon an audience. Enduring a Black Dice performance promises to reward the most adventurous of music lovers with a sublime and beautiful experience hidden within layers of noise.

Los Angeles based artist and curator Robert Crouch has exhibited his work in London, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. He co-curated the minimalist music festival, Immersion, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) in 2004, and the experimental multimedia music series, Visual Music: See Hear Now! at MOCA and the Roy and Edna Disney Cal Arts Theater (REDCAT) in 2005. Crouch holds a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.

Brett Allen has worked in various studios in the Bay Area and was involved with live recordings for artists including the Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen. In 2005, he opened SnowGhost Sound Studios in Whitefish, Montana. Designed as a getaway studio for talented artists, SnowGhost has all of the amenities of a major studio, including ultimate-fidelity digital and analog recording systems as well as a unique digital storage and distribution architecture. Allen is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz.

About ZeroOne San Jose Global Festival of Art on the Edge

ZeroOne San Jose Global Festival of Art on the Edge is an innovative, ground-breaking biennial art festival in the Silicon Valley designed to show exhibits, performances, workshops, and events that have been created using the newest developments in contemporary art practice. The festival’s themed projects examine and reflect issues and experiences of everyday life. Artistic and revolutionary digital culture elements are woven throughout. A serious art event, ZeroOne San Jose Global Festival of Art on the Edge provides academics, artists, and technology enthusiasts an inside look at new territories in creative imagination and inventiveness. However, the event is also designed with facets of learning, play, and virtual technology that make it an enjoyable experience for families, students, teens, underground culture enthusiasts, and explorers of new millennium digital culture alike.

The inaugural ZeroOne San Jose Global Festival of Art on the Edge takes place in 2006 in conjunction with the ISEA2006 Symposium. With a record number of artistic submissions from around the world, festival and symposium attendees have the opportunity to make live contact with the most distinctive, astonishing and startling contemporary art of the new millennium. The festival will take place through-out downtown San Jose from August 7-13, 2006. For more information, visit

About Montalvo Arts Center

Montalvo Arts Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to forging meaningful connections between art, artists and the communities it serves through creation, presentation and education in extraordinary ways and settings. Located in the Saratoga hills, Montalvo Arts Center occupies a Mediterranean-style villa on 175 stunning acres, which Senator James Phelan left to the people of California for the encouragement of art, music, literature and architecture. In January 2005, the organization changed its name from “Montalvo” to “Montalvo Arts Center” to commemorate its 75th year as an arts center and to better communicate its mission to expanding local, national and international audiences. For more information about Montalvo Arts Center, call (408) 961-5800 or visit

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