First off, Littlefield is one of the coolest art spaces I’ve been to in Brooklyn. Unlike a lot of venues in Brooklyn, it feels like a classy art space meant for performance art rather than the dive bars that are converted into rock and roll venues. And on this Friday night, the avant garde and post-whatever was in tall order.
Starting off I got to see the end of the first opener of the night, Julia Kent who I know through her involvement with post rock chamber orchestra Rasputina and Antony and the Johnsons. Friday, however, it was only her with her cello and loop pedal. Looping was a pervasive theme that would run through the night and each artist showcased a different instrument that to be looped. I missed the first half of Kent’s set, but what I did hear was lyrical and modern classical renderings, which built and built with every loop added.
Next up was Christopher Tignor who was on the violin and loop pedal. He also used a wide array of synth pedals, loop pedals, patches, bass drum, and hi-hat. The hi-hat was used when he struck it with a tuning fork and placed it next to his electric violin. The feedback created a melody that was looped and played over in a commanding fashion. Like Kent, his violin playing owed a lot to 20th century classical movements which were played over ambient loops. The term “dark ambient” is accurate for his playing, along with everyone else who played.
Towards the end Tignor thanked the crowd and Littlefields for being able to put together such an “aesthetically tight” night, and I have to admit, it is an impressively similar grouping of musicians which all showcased different, but similar takes on a modernist classical shift towards ambient and minimalism. Similar musicians that come to mind are John Cage, Harold Budd, or Brian Eno, but those comparisons don’t exactly capture the darkness that this group is staking out. Cage is perhaps the most comparable with dissonance and silence working in conjunction.
Finally, headlining act Noveller (aka Sarah Lipstate) finished off the night with a looping guitar. She relied mostly on works from her most recent album No Dreams and her upcoming album Fastastic Planet. Notable tracks were the cascading “Into the Dunes,” “Ascent,” and the surprise throwback to her amazing Glacier Glow “Entering.” Often playing with a bow on guitar, the way she uses the bow brings to mind Jonsi from Sigur Ros. She then precisely loops the riffs and sounds in dynamic and interesting ways to build the songs from the ground up.
She’s shifted her focus and songwriting in the last couple years. Her older material owes much more to post rock ambience like early Tortoise or Mogwai, but the newer material creates soundscapes like modern musique concrete artists Merzbow or Nurse with Wound. But, while those extreme acts tend to hinge on abrasiveness, she uses the looping of noise as a chance to express a fuzz and warmth, powerful in its rendering, and ultimately an expression of contemplation. The entire night was enjoyable, if only short lived, as it ended after less than two hours.
Article by: Steven Klett