Arts Team review – Circuit Cabaret: Vancouver New Music Festival 2012


Welcome to the Circuit Cabaret, the Vancouver New Music Festival 2012. (VNM’s past themes include Theatre for the Ears and CopyRight/CopyLeft.)

On Oct 18th Maegan Thomas, Arts Director, visited the Cabaret:

I expected a New Forms crowd, but the tables were occupied by young and old, “cool” and “nerdy,” enthusiastically rapt and one guy who could not wait to eat his chips. His munching added to the improvisational aspects of the evening.

Nicolas Collins (Chicago), part of the vanguard of circuit bending art, hosted. He noted that this particular brand of noise exploration comes from the DIY approach that poverty demands, and promises to elaborate further as the festival moves on.  Though they described him as such, he eschews the term “pioneer” because someone’s always done it first: in this case, one major first was John Cage, whose 100th birthday would be this year. He’s a major influence of the artists at this years festival. Nicolas will be playing Oct 20th. After the night ended, I talked with Nicolas about his comments on poverty, pioneers, and the computer as instrument.

Read more notes on the lineup after the jump, and watch out for interviews with Collins, Scott and glamTure online and on air (Wed Oct 24th 5pm-6pm). The festival continues Friday, Oct 19th and Saturday, Oct 20th at the Scotia Bank Dance Centre starting 8pm (sharp!). For more info and the rest of the lineup, check out

Cracked Ray Tube (Chicago) [pictured], or Kyle Evans and James Connolly, brought the required Videodrome element to the evening. Bending circuits with the purity of  input/output manipulation, they melded the warbles of sound and image through a half dozen analogue TV sets. Though the sets are modern again, now. Images from a tropical island to the classic post broadcast rainbow bars fizzed and spat while the audio whirred and whined. This was the one set that was best with a view, but also the most musical; they found the rhythm across sets.

CiTR Alum Andrew Scott (Whip of the UFO) (Vancouver), featured a Conair white noise machine, crickets and other gadgets to create a feedback loop that brought out the insect and alien in the air. Clicks and electro moans dominated. A video element gave interest as you could watch Andrew operate, but “music” is a loose term here – more like a soundscape that was very dry and neon orange.

Listen to my chat with Andrew after his set.

My favourite act of the night was Matt Rogalsky (Kingston). The Cage element was there not just in sound, but came up late when I was perusing one of the free MusicWorks mags available at the fest: Matt had been present at a re-staging of “Reunion”, originally a meeting of Cage and Marcel Duchamp over a chess board/16channel trigger panel. His “ignored streams of information” started as bird chirps and whale sounds that were ultimately transformed into atmospheric wanderings. He took full advantage and adept control of the beautiful surround sound in the venue. For me it was the most interesting use of sound in the night, defamiliarizing the mundane, and finding the humour in the seemingly mournful whale song.

Finally, glamTURE, a participatory installation collaboration by Julie Gendron, Emma Hendrix, & Rob Symmers (Vancouver), didn’t happen this night due to the difficulties of finding 16 turntables that reverse. “Luck being the caveat,” it will happen on the 19th. However, we did get to participate in “don’t, stop” which is participation at it’s simplest: grab a cube, press to record, plug in to loop. In reference to Collins’ notes on poverty, Gendron noted later that neither she nor Hendrix feel “poor” but still often lack the resources to bring together the material that their imaginative projects demand. If you want to get involved from home, download their app idontstopp for iPhone.