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Putting the "Mental" in "Experimental": Tristan Perich, Daniel Wohl, and Lucky Dragons at Baby's All Right

by Poppy Galloway

Noisepatterns_tristan

Baby's All Right presented a showcase of the finest in experimental electronica Wednesday night; featuring Tristan Perich's Noise PatternsDaniel Wohl with IKTUS Percussion, and the Los Angeles–based indie group Lucky Dragons.

If you haven't seen or heard a live Tristan Perich audio composition, you should know that words just can't do him justice. Always thinking outside the box, Perich describes Noise Patterns as ". . . an investigation into the foundational limits of computation, which surface in the seemingly simple world of randomness."  

The first-hand experience of this performance was a completely immersive and wholly sensorial affair. Armed with a modestly sized audio mixer, Perich's set began with murmurings of gritty, static noise that grew to resemble the sound of aged NASA footage of a rocket launch. When Perich had nearly crushed the known limits of sound and the audience's ability to process it (a dude in front of me was clutching his ears and hollering like a vegan in Baskin Robbins), the sound dispersed into sporadic pulses that reverberated off the walls, and then increased in frequency until he had once again created a wall of unrelenting NOISE.

The "melody" of the noise came next, sounding, not unpleasantly, like maracas being mauled by a cheese grater. I looked to the ceiling because somehow Perich was turning this white noise into acid rain on the ceiling. This was musical visuality at its finest, with noise the constant and melodic contouring the variable. I've heard mixed reviews on the quality of the sound system at Baby's All Right, but it worked perfectly in projecting this raw and gritty sound. 

Up next was electronic musician Daniel Wohl with IKTUS Percussion, who receive full marks for originality, technicality, and precision. The set was a rhythm-based piece featuring acoustic and electric percussion, electronic keys, and a laptop—incredibly technical and perhaps too conceptual for my ears, however.

In complete contrast to Perich, it was the silences Wohl created that were deafening, but imperative in allowing the audience to appreciate all of the percussive elements. For a few glorious moments one member of IKTUS was handling a little wooden ball, affectionately tapping and stroking it with a drum stuck; I still have no clue what the purpose of this was, but it was cool and preceded a track that sounded like stripped-back church bells. 

Veterans of the experimental/electronic scene and connoisseurs of making the mundane sound fun-dane, duo Lucky Dragons were on last and drew the biggest crowd. They sat facing each other at opposite ends of a table, audio mixers at hand and seemingly ready to exist in electronic, symbiotic harmony. Rhythmic murmurings came first, delicately reverberating around the room as if testing the acoustics and possibilities of the space. Whimsical digital scales and tiny vocal glitches were steadily introduced to create a layered sound that I can only describe as melodic rhythm. At times the notion of Crystal Castles on ketamin sprung to mind. Good—very good.

The experimental showcase at Baby's All Right was refreshing, stimulating, and, most of all, interesting—a trait that is too often too few and far between. I left the venue with microchips on my mind and walked like a robot for the rest of the night. 

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