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NoVo / Nouveau: Live Audio, Day 2 – Expanding Man (2010.03.03)

Photo credit: Tedd Henn

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  1. MP3: The Dirge
  2. MP3: Origami
  3. MP3: Church & State
  4. MP3: Interpretation of Dreams

Download the entire set in FLAC.

Expanding Man

Vibes – Shure SM81 (x/y)
Guitar – Shure SM57
Drum Machine – DI
stage – mxl 990 (angled at 45 deg in towards the middle of the stage)

Recorded by Matthew Leffler-Schulman & Alex Champagne @ Windup Space
Mixed by Alex Champagne & Matthew Leffler-Schulman @ Mobtown Studios

NoVo / Nouveau: Live Audio, Day 2 – JDay (2010.03.03)

Photo credit: Tedd Henn

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  1. MP3: Untitled

Download the entire set in FLAC.


DJ Set

Recorded by Matthew Leffler-Schulman & Alex Champagne @ Windup Space
Mixed by Alex Champagne & Matthew Leffler-Schulman @ Mobtown Studios

NoVo / Nouveau: Introductions

You’ve probably seen or heard something about this week’s inaugural NoVo (No Vocals) instrumental music festival somewhere around town (City Paper, Fox45, WYPR’s Maryland Morning and the Signal, the Baltimore Sun), and with such an impressive lineup, you’d be a fool to miss it.

Since opening the Windup Space, owner Russell de Ocampo (also a member of instrumental band Yeveto) has yearned to hold a festival that would highlight the different flavors of instrumental music in Baltimore. When asked why instrumental often gets the short shrift, de Ocampo mused that ” a lot of people tend to view it as soundtrack music, or background music, so I think that it kind of gets that stigma to it. People don’t tend to think of it as something to be watched at a live show, or to be listened to directly.” In an effort to combat this perception, de Ocampo teamed up with Matthew Leffler-Schulman (owner of Mobtown Studios) to create this 5 day showcase of instrumental splendor.  However, Matthew Leffler-Schulman notes that instrumental is not without its successes in the realm of pop music, citing singles such as “Green Onions” from Booker T. & the MGs whose riff has become almost ubiquitously associated with slick and cool.

Taking a historical look at European attitudes towards strictly instrumental music, it is clear that religious institutions and figureheads, who played large roles in direction of culture and society, had an unfavorable view of instruments themselves. In fact, little remains of ancient music despite the fact that evidence suggests Romans and Greeks had extensive systems of musical notation. This is largely due to their destruction by the early founders of the Christian church. One pillar of their reasoning was that the best praise for God would be using God’s gifts (ie- voices) and not crude, man-made implements. Furthermore, instrumental in the period of Early Music (6th-17th centuries) was so closely associated with dance that it was demonized as the flawed and sinful province of the salacious and deviant. As the era of Early Music progressed (particularly through the Medieval period), instrumental music gained prominence outside the realm of dance owed to the growing tradition of theater.

Through huge leaps in musical notation in the Baroque period, and the advances in polyphony through Early Music, instrumentalists rose in prominence and finally had a codified language to write music with, likely facilitating the development of classical music (probably the genre most associated with instrumental composition). While a lynchpin of classical and jazz, instrumental compositions and artists have gotten more than their fair share of negative press within the broader consciousness of fans outside of those two genres. This makes NoVo a brazen choice, particularly for a popular music venue, to strictly focus on solely instrumental music. Thankfully for them Baltimore’s wellspring of talent operating in this realm is overflowing.

Tonight everything gets kickstarted with the free Out Of Your Head Collective’s 1 Year Anniversary featuring three sets from local invaluable improv-ers, such as pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn and reed-man John Dierker. Check back here throughout the week for more info on daily performers, and starting next week we’ll be providing full live recordings of the entire festival.

Check out the NoVo website for full lineup and schedule.

Livewire: The Multiphonic Choir @ The Windup Space (2010.01.14)

The Multiphonic Choir Live

Photo: David Carter

The Multiphonic Choir played Thursday night at The Windup Space. They were there to resolve a critical shortage of music “based on the cryptic and taboo-breaking geo-political philosophy of AFRO-GERMANICISM”. This is an experimentally-minded outfit with five saxes, an electric bass, and a drumkit, all of whom were on the stage in last month’s Baltimore Afrobeat Society shows. It’s adventurous music with some great moments and a baffling blend of free jazz, neoclassical, afrobeat and krautrock influences. We also learned a little about The Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland and Neue Slowenische Kunst along the way.

The Multiphonic Choir
The Windup Space
January 14, 2010
Baltimore, MD, USA

John Berndt: Alto Sax, Rhythm Prism, Band Leader
Chris Pumphrey: Alto Sax
Rose Burt: Baritone Sax
Tiffany Defoe: Tenor Sax
John Dierker: Tenor Sax
Dan Breen: Electric Bass
Paul Niedhardt: Drums

Streaming player:

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MP3 links:

1. Introduction (Berndt) (1:24)
2. Lagos-Badden-Badden (Berndt) (14:44)
3. In The Deep (Berndt) (8:56)
4. Watusa (Sun Ra) (4:01)
5. Musicalawi Silat (Daktaris) (8:00)
6. Banter (Berndt) (2:33)
7. A Sharper Nimbus (Berndt) (10:13)
8. Neon Lights (Kraftwerk) (7:53)

Total time: 57:44

ZIP links:

Entire set in mp3 format


AKG 414 mid/side pair -> Zoom h4n 48/24 -> Nuendo (stereo encoding, limiting) -> MP3

Recorded by:

David Carter(carteriffic@gmail.com)

Live Review: Tommy Tucker & The Supernaturals, The Bellevederes @ the Windup Space (2009.12.31)


Photo credit: Frank Hamilton (The Bellevederes)

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MP3: Tommy Tucker – Keep Good Time from Green Is Gold (2009)

Can we talk about how wonderful the Wind Up Space is for a moment? An awkwardly placed bar area lies on the right side of ten feet’s worth of concrete; everyone seems to be gravitating between the bar and three black support pillars acting as a not-so-arbitrary boundary linking the bar discussion with the art gallery/venue space on the opposing wall.

This is a perfectly designed space.

It offers a wealth of readily available mingle topics–the bar, the art, the space, the band, etc–in perhaps four or five semi-secluded areas. I walked in with time enough to hear the MC for the evening, a well-dressed, sunglasses-wearing man, announce Tommy Tucker’s (or Tucker Mayer’s) upcoming set.

Even though his folk-based 2009 release, Green Is Gold, scarcely shows it, I now know for a fact that Tommy Tucker has got some soul in his blood. One finds a faint indication of this in album standout, “Keep Good Time,” where Mayer’s astounding falsetto leads a bedroom percussion ensemble to glorious heights. His New Year’s Eve set at the Windup demonstrated to everyone that Tommy Tucker is unquestionably a soul man nowadays. His backing band The Supernaturals (which happens to feature both members of Wye Oak), compares favorably with any typical backing group–to be on pitch, on time, and to contribute a dependable foundation for Mayer’s irreplaceable stage exploitation proves itself a faultless backing design. Oh, and how precious his antics are: Mayer’s frenetic dancing is, like his voice, the absurd extension of a soul stretched to its limit. The spirit of pain channeled through Tommy Tucker’s very embodiment (Andy and Jenn from Wye Oak also performed their own adorable take on the Talking Heads’ classic “Naïve Melody,” perhaps to catalyze the evening’s climax).

“I want to know for myself that when I look back, and when I tell my children what I was doing in the first second of the ‘Tens–what I was doin’ when those ‘Tens started–well, I was dancing.” At that point, the night of had been stolen by Tommy Tucker.

Later on, after everyone in the crowd had downed a few glasses of champagne, Baltimore’s resident 9-piece soul/funk outfit took the stage. Fronted by two women so dainty that I’d never even guess could sing well, much less belt, the Bellevederes were surprisingly tight given their large numbers. Their lyrical matter may be in dire need of improvement, but musically the band need not change a thing. The Bellevederes represent in themselves a funk-for-funk’s sake sort of aspiration. That is, I’m not quite sure about why they’re playing soul and funk–other than to get funky, of course–but I’m not rightly going to criticize such an objective. Plus, they’re a riot live which is justification enough. Do yourself a favor and be sure not to miss The Bellevederes next time they play in the area.

Preview: Lizz King @ the Windup Space (2010.01.08)

WEB tilltheydoFLYER

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  1. MP3: Lizz King – Mr. Fella
  2. MP3: Lizz King – Till They Do

Lizz King is a joy to behold; her opening performance for Daniel Johnston back in 2008 was an astounding moment that still sticks with me today. So, it is with equal joy that I announce local label Ehse Records is finally releasing her debut full-length All Songs Go To Heaven. It is a smoky, almost labyrinthine charmer of an album that channels the spirit of Lizz’s live presence better than I could have imagined. Nearly every track crackles with that raw and naked, imperfect sound that she plys so well. You can almost feel her fingers trailing on her ukulele strings; you can almost see her body alternating between desperate sexual thrusting and slow, hypnotic swaying.

Lizz is easily one of the most complex and compelling acts to rise from within the Wham City ranks. An endlessly imaginative enigma, she operates by stitching together disparate elements of the heart-achingly open country-bluegrass tradition (likely acquired from time spent in rural Maryland and West Virginia), the effervescent, fuzzed-out electronic experimentalism made infamous by her Wham City cohorts, heavy-hitting aspects of soul, and even bumping beats of club music.

You would be wise to head over to the Windup Space this Friday Jan 8th for the official record release show, featuring support from Holy Sheet, Videohippos, and Bethany Dinsick. This also doubles as a send-off show for Lizz’s US tour. For those unfamiliar with Ehse (who released the excellent Harrius and Sejayno records last year), their MP3 downloads operate on the “name-your-price” business model. Real, physical medium (vinyl and CD) costs real, set prices though. All can be had through their website, or at the True Vine.

Check out two sides of Lizz right here, right now: the precious “Till They Do” and the heavy “Mr. Fella.”

Photos / Live Review: Celebration, Lone Wolf, Ami Dang @ the Windup Space (2009.02.20)

There’s an old, bittersweet saying that goes something along the lines of this: “You can never go home again.”

I’d like to submit an exception to that statement: “…unless you call Baltimore home.”

This past Friday, the Windup Space’s recently constructed stage was adorned not unlike someone’s living room, with antiqueish/kitschy decor such as Buddha lamps.  The warm yellow glow of incandescent bulbs cast a much warmer light than the typically harsh stage lights.  The room was nicely filled before Ami Dang took the stage, and things felt cozy.

Dang’s blend of traditional Indian sitar and classical singing with experimental electronics grows more effective with each successive performance.  Her voice ranges from subtle and sublime to massive and nearly overwhelming in power.  The intimate nature of her performance requires rapt attentiveness for full-effect, and in that the crowd failed.  A large din of chatter often broke into Dang’s delicately crafted silences; but these distractions quickly fell away whenever Dang let loose her vocals.  I’m convinced that given the right amping, Dang could obliterate buildings with them.

Lone Wolf was a rather chaotic drum/vocal one-man act (backed by sax) that was too discombobulated for me to follow.   I may have prematurely written them off, but I found myself supremely disinterested.

Celebration, on the other hand, struck with the orchestrated fury of a tsunami, combining equal parts wild-eyed frenzy, atmospheric experimentalism and soulful pop leanings.  Their last performance in Baltimore was months ago, and it showed in the earnestness of their performance.  They hadn’t really left Baltimore, but it felt like a triumphant homecoming nonetheless.  A projected flickring fire on the back wall, warmly welcoming and complementing the homeyness of the decor and the gentle, wafting scent of some sort of wood incense in the air.  

The nature of Celebration’s primal pop is such that it envelopes you in its feral folds; rather than coming off as some foreign, distant spectacle, there is an allure, a warmth that emanates from Celebration that draws you into their music and performance.  This was magnified tenfold by the cozy trappings of the space.  As things often tend to go in Baltimore, the mood at the Windup swiftly became one of old friends reunited, the time that had passed becoming a brief footnote in a long-standing and deep fraternity, united by a common bond: love of music.

Ami Dang

_MG_0885 Read the rest…

Photos: Thank You, Wheatie Mattiasich @ Windup Space, Leprechaun Catering @ Hexagon (2009.01.02)

Photo Credit: Greg Szeto

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MP3: Thank You – Empty Legs from Terrible Two (2008)

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MP3: Leprechaun Catering – Adult Carrot

2009 started off right with 2 great art openings in Station North, anchored by 2 shows from some great Baltimore musicians.

The Windup Space opened an exhibit of Jordan Kasey’s interesting landscape art that has a bit of Magritte surrealist touch to it.  Friends Thank You and Wheatie Mattiasich helped open this exhibit; Thank You were burdened with a bit of technical difficulty early in their set but managed to bang out a slew of their nimble, stuttering tracks from Terrible Two including the ever-hypnotizing rhythmic exercise “Empty Legs.”

The Hexagon Space played host to Emily Dierkes’ Recent Works: Pink Clouds Remixed exhibit.  Leprechaun Catering played a banging set of glorious racket that had the Hex packed and pulsating.

Wheatie Mattiasich


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Photos / Review: Lo Moda, Miracles, Thrust Lab @ the Windup Space (2008.11.21)

IMG_0112 Photo credit: Greg Szeto

Baltimore delivers another strong evening of music and live performance to my senses.  This time, the occasion is a trifecta of new releases on Peter Quinn’s (Lo Moda) record label Creative Capitalism: Lo Moda’s sophomore LP Replica Watches, Miracles’ Colony Collapse and a new release from Thrust Lab.

I swear the boys in Thrust Lab must machines…because I think they play at least 2 shows a week.  Read the rest…

Review: Moodgadget Synchronicity Tour vs. Girl Talk Tour-Taking notes on the underground, and the Pop.

All Girl Talk Photos: Josh Sisk

At 16 I hit a crisis—I walked away from the classical training I began 10 years earlier. I didn’t give it up entirely, but I decided I wasn’t going to pursue becoming a classical cellist as a career. Very quickly the musical void left by the absencesof practicing multiple hours a day was soon filled by electronic music. I was introduced to avant-garde electronic music at an early age; so making sounds on the computer didn’t seem odd while all my friends were out starting punk bands. I eventually fell into Electronic Dance Music, and I never looked back.

My take on popular music may be somewhat unique, given that I moved from the more esoteric to the more mainstream, not the other way around. To make a generalization the more vanguard electronic acts, though they may be pushing into new territory, are also the lesser-attended live acts. The more trite, derivative acts, though lacking in that exploratory nature, are the larger draws. I think it is safe to say that this generally holds true for any genre, and I’d get into the realm of speculation if I were to attribute reasons to why this happens. But here are some concrete examples from last week. Read the rest…