Northwest Electro-Acoustic Music Festival
Fri Oct 5, Sat Oct 6
B Complex

The music at the Third Annual Portland International Electro-Acoustic Music Festival brings to mind college chemistry students trying to create their own hallucinogenic drugs, or Information Systems (IS) nerds trying to build their own video games. Performer DJ I, Robot's website describes his technique as such: "[he] uses a PC, several micro-controllers, and an advanced motion control system to automatically mix, scratch, and search a pair of custom vinyl records on the robotic phonographs. [His system] can spin the platters at speeds up to 800 RPM, an has an advanced database system that analyzes and processes current information, hints from the operator, and an 'expert system' of early DJ techniques."

This is the next level of electronic music; this is the scientist/super-geek level of electronic music. According to board member Ryan Wise (member of local bands Dear Nora and Wolf Colonel), the point is that "We want to get a collaboration of music styles from around the world, raise the visibility of all forms of electronic music, and show how different the artists are. We're attempting to break down barriers between genres, from academic to club music."

The daytime demonstrations are the forum in which the artists can show off their gear and techniques, technician to technician. Electro-artists can benefit from the skills of people like DJ I, Robot, and Tae Hong Park, a Ph.D. student at Princeton studying electro-acoustic and computer music. And, in one of the most bizarre demonstrations, Paul Rudy will break down his cactus-playing--he'll pluck the cactus, and the sound will go through contact mics and out onto the floor.

As far as the actual performances go, highlights include the super-fuzz of DJ I, Robot, DJ Aural with accompanying videowork, the live video mixing of Phase 4 scored by Twine, the minimalist water-bubbling improvisation of keyboard/guitar duo Donkey, and ex-Lewis & Clark professor Joseph Waters doing electronics and live percussion. It's no lie, most of this creative work is over the heads of typical DJ enthusiasts, but it's crazy wack shit that'll give you a perspective on whether the experimental and avant-garde are your boats of gravy.