Without any pre-set plans, I decided to slop through the rain last night to Issue Project Room's new location on 3rd Ave. and 3rd St. in Brooklyn. The new space is a straight shoebox on the third floor of an old can factory: not as interesting as the silo they used to inhabit, but it still has the same omni-directional speakers and quirky, underground feel.
I arrived mid-set of an electro-acoustic outfit called Ike Yard, that apparently developed something of a following during it's brief existence in the early 80's, and became the first American band to record for the UK's legendary Factory Records. While there were interesting moments bleeding techno and acid house, it was - to my ears - mostly bad noise, and felt a bit like fantasy camp for fifty-somethings.
On my way out, I overheard that there was another happening called Tranzducer down the avenue at LEMURplex, on 9th St. "LEMUR" stands for the "League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots, and is devoted to the creation of robotic musical instruments with names such as, "The Ill-Tempered Clangier": a xylophone-like contraption that clangs percussive melodies on forty-four tuned metal pipes.
There was a DJ spinning when I arrived, but he soon gave way to the fascinating Radio Wonderland, composer Joshua Fried's solo project in which he scans FM stations and remixes them live with the help of software called Max/MSP on his laptop. His choice of samples is often sly, looping the phrases "People have a heart" and "Exact duplicates of others" distorted by turning a steering wheel on top of a rickety stool. Later, he banged out a classical sample on old shoes, making it sound like a Burmese pat waing. Fried is a brilliant improviser; his main issue is letting folks know whether they should sit and listen or get up and dance. If Fried's own nonstop gyrating was any indication, I'm sure he wouldn't mind the latter.