January 21st (friday) fluxmonkey (Cleveland)
Michael Johnsen (Pittsburgh)
Charles Cohen + Chris Madak (Philadelphia)
Bowerbird Presents GATE
@ The Rotunda
4014 Walnut Street
ABOUT THE ARTISTS fluxmonkey is the duo of Bbob Drake and Kristen Ban Drake, veteran electronic luthiers, language poets, and improvisors whose refined and playful work with modular synthesizers and voice acknowledges deep roots in the classically experimental ethics of Cage, Tudor, and Fluxus and the wonderfully zonked folk sciences of mail art and synth DIY, while sitting gracefully and with considerable distinction in the contemporary electroacoustic underground.
While the last few years have seen the effects of their work felt far outside their native Cleveland, Ohio thanks to a string of stunning regional festival appearances, a handful of brilliant recorded editions, and a substantial influence on a generation of artists now emerging from the Rust Belt, January's GATE represents a very rare opportunity for those outside their typical orbit to hear an often enigmatic and reclusive pair of masters in a live setting.
Instrument builder and performer Michael Johnsen was born in 1968 in Pennsylvania. Drawing on the rich American tradition of experimentation and cobbling, he has built up an integrated menagerie of devices specifically for live performance whose idiosyncratic behaviors are revealed through their complex interactions. His work is characterized by a relative lack of ideas per se, and an intense focus on observation, the way a shepherd watches sheep. The extensive patching of large numbers of devices produces teeming chirps, sudden transients and charming failure modes; embracing the dirt in pure electronics. As an antidote to all that wire, he is equally devoted to the singing saw, a simple folk instrument. Most of what he might have learned has come from the natural world, like watching robins run. He is particularly fond of sounds that end. He has played widely in the US and Europe in improvising and noise contexts, at large festivals, museums, squats, and kindergartens. Recent collaborators include C Spencer Yeh, Margaret Cox, Jerome Noetinger, Jack Wright, Pascal Battus,Thomas Lehn; also Michel Doneda, Michael Zerang, Joe McPhee, Bhob Rainey, Tom Djll, and Greg Pierce. His recordings are distributed in Europe by Metamkine.
Charles Cohen + Chris Madak: Charles Cohen has opined to the effect that his favorite description is "no description at all." Chris Madak is ambivalent on this point and so will suffice to note that both members of this duo are based in Philadelphia and will be presenting a set of analog monosynth-based improvisations.
The Rotunda is a West Philadelphia community-gathering place that is fueled by the belief that art is a catalyst for social change and that the arts can lead to the formation of meaningful partnerships between the University of Pennsylvania and surrounding neighborhoods. Over 300 events are offered every year, including live music, film, spoken word, theater, art, dance, education, youth programs, arts incubation, and various experimental genres. As an alcohol-free, smoke-free venue, The Rotunda provides a critical social alternative for all ages. At its core, The Rotunda is a shared space fostering learning, enrichment, and community support while empowering the public to present, produce, and promote their work.