Students and Faculty Join for Jam Session

Ava Bravata-Keating

The ’Sco served as an experimental music mecca last Monday, attracting TIMARA majors, sound technicians and programmers alike for an improvised electroacoustic showcase. College senior Adam Hirsch, Conservatory senior Charles Glanders and doubledegree senior Devin Frenze of the experimental audiovisual ensemble Wisseler opened the show on saxophone, turntables and visuals, respectively. Their music and visuals were expertly coordinated and built symbiotically to a climax. The jam’s visual component began with slowly moving black and white forms that thematically mimicked the saxophone’s spacey sounds. Gradually, light blues overtook the black and white, followed by a rapid, multicolor potpourri of asymmetrical images that complemented the big bass of Glanders’s feedback loop.

The ’Sco-goers were engaged in the novel performance — many sat or laid down on the ground during Wisseler’s set, allowing the full audiovisual experience to wash over them. Some sat in silence, eyes closed, while others danced under the DJ box, hugged a column, sat on each other or did the robot. Hirsch’s saxophone added a melodic touch to a genre usually characterized by avant-garde, atonal sounds. The added melody made the music more danceable and more accessible to a wider audience.

Wisseler was followed by Lyn Goeringer, visiting assistant professor of Computer Music and Digital Arts, and double-degree sophomore and TIMARA major Matt Omahan. Though Omahan usually plays with Wisseler, the two took the stage as a teacher-student duo, layering and looping ambient sounds to produce a rich, diverse soundscape. Goeringer spent much of the set bent over an iPad, manipulating sounds via touchscreen and Mac. Omahan added a MIDI board and knob controls to the mix. The pair crafted this musical ambience using improvised looped sounds punctuated with sudden deep bass rumbles. Shrill rhythmic sirens cut through the subtler interplay between synths and bass. The stage was lit with red overhead lights and blue and purple stage lights, creating an eerie glow reminiscent of the inside of a spaceship and adding to the general feeling that the whole experience was very much out of this world.

For the conclusion of the improvised jam session, Wisseler joined Goeringer and Omahan for a final piece. The complexity of Professor Goeringer’s loops and playful rhythmic hits meshed well with Wisseler’s web of melodic ambience. The performance was engaging and inventive, both visually and musically. But perhaps more importantly, it represented a successful collaboration between the audio and visual realms and an equalizing collaboration between professor and students.