Staalplaat Soundsystem and LACE
It occurred to me that light might be as much a part of the upcoming concert as sound – and that both would become components of music. A slide carousel was clicking and flashing its empty square on one wall, antiquated monitors glowed an old-fashioned grey light, on them copper wires were taped, splayed like futuristic sense organs across the screens and picking up static then transmuting that free energy into sound. Unlike many sound/music installations, cause and effect were clearly observable here – or enough so to make me feel like I understood the proceedings.
The youths who take part in this weekend’s teen workshop with Staalplaat Soundsystem at LACE will receive “as brief an instruction as possible (in the science and art of making music with household and thrift store equipment) to avoid burdening the creativity of the moment by giving them a “right” way to do it.
Ooh, the air was redolent of hot plastic and the low sizzle of possibility underlay everything. I recalled the scent of overheated TV’s from my youth, and hanging out in the self-built stereo room of a friend’s dad: he played weirdly packaged records, and my friend and I watched avidly the progress of reel to reel tapes and I savored – without knowing why – the pops and crackles of connoiseur-level electronics. This same favored dad once took us to Wallich’s Music City on Sunset Blvd, where we sat in private glass cubicles and sampled audiophile lp’s from foreign countries while Mr. Beeken smoked and told us what was what. Stunning memory.
Staalplaat Soundsystem practice a communitarian iteration of this hobbyist-dad, analog-digital geekery. These Dutch artists invite people – not other “Sound Artists” – but students and professionals from other career tracks and children, to engage with their tools; they teach skills – weird, anarchic organization patterns – that might not transfer precisely to another experience, but that open one’s mind to making and thinking creatively with sound.
There will be a Youth Concert on Sunday, with the students who have spent the weekend practicing and composing, and a performance by Staalplaat Soundsystem themselves on Monday.
Oh! Oh! I forgot the best line of the night! Ok, so I really forgot but I’ll give it a try. Robert Crouch: “The first thing I saw when I walked into work this week was Geert-Jan dipping wired circuit boards into salt water. I guess it’s safe, because they’re so low voltage, but I worried. And then…. the circuit boards started to sizzle over the speakers – sometimes quietly and sometimes in a low, throbbing moan. It was like hearing the sad little deaths of digital equiment!”
More information on the workshop and the concerts at LACE: http://www.welcometolace.org/exhibitions/view/staalplaat-soundsystem/