On the flimsiest of connections with Mendelssohn’s Fingal’s Cave Overture, we present a Waitomo Caves Improv’erture featuring two of New Zealand’s finest electronic musicians, Simon O’Rorke and Paul Winstanley, who’ll be joined by prolific instrument inventor Tom Nunn and myself, Joe Lasqo, playing synthesizer, laptop, and small percussion.
(Examiner.com preview with more about the Fingal’s Cave Overture connection: here.)
This will be improvising synthesist and percussionist Simon O’Rorke’s only Bay Area appearance on his current US tour.
After achieving psychotropic tele-telepathic resonance with the members of the unique Waitomo cave glowworm habitat half a world away in Aotearoa’s North Island, our band of intersonic spelunkers will be driven to the deepest frontiers of audio experience by the glowworms’ chill incandescence.
The site of this inter-spatial / interspecies experiment could be no other than The Nunnery (address and map below), the secret lair and new-instrument research lab of sound-inventor Tom Nunn, who’s begun hosting a series of concerts there which often involve invented / homebrew instruments and extended improvisational techniques.
The performance space is surrounded by Tom’s latest creations. Twice a month he opens his atelier to the public for performances on a Sunday afternoon and a Monday evening, and we look forward to a matinée performance there at 2pm, Sun 25 Nov (3016 25th St., San Francisco, CA 94110, between Florida and Alabama Streets, map)
The show’s guest of honor is synthesist/percussionist Simon O’Rorke, a key driver of the Wellington improv scene and a daring pathbreaker even by the standards of the convention-disregarding, menefreghista, follow-the-sound-wherever-it-goes culture of New Zealand improv.
Originally from Britain, Simon was already ignited by early studies there in the improv workshops of UK improv revolutionaries John Stevens and Trevor Watts (of Spontaneous Music Ensemble) when he emigrated to Aotearoa in the late 80s.
Spearheading the diffusion of improv practices and techniques from European improv and American free jazz into the Southern Pacific, he organized the groundbreaking Wellington improv trio The Slab, w saxophonist Brian Hutson, and later, guitarist Matthew Mitchell, switching from his original instruments, bass guitar and synthesizer, to percussion in the process.
Later configurations of The Slab also included antipodal improv masters, guitarist Daniel Beban and saxophonist Anton Wuts.
Simon has also been active in the improv supergroup The Wellington Most Famous Orchestra of Miraculous Delights (WMFOOMD).
The unique percussion sensibility and extended techniques for both performing and electronically processing percussive sounds that Simon has pioneered were well in evidence in a string of later collaborations, especial the astonishing work with turntablist Alphabethead (David Morrison) in the duo Clangophone and with laptopist Octif (Shanan Holm) in the duo Peel (PErcussion vs ELectronics).
The albums made by these duos, Clangophonica by Clangophone, and Pattern Recognition by Peel, cannot be recommended too highly. Check them out and you’ll be taken to wild and very beautiful frontiers of electro-percussive sound.
Since 2011, Simon has been active mostly again as a synthesist, carving out another new sonic space in the free improv quartet Confluence, along with with musical polymath Chris Prosser (violin), Wellington’s doyenne of Braziliana, Julie Bevan (nylon-string guitar), and jazz reedist Michael Hall (saxophones & clarinet).
Locally, Simon’s previous shows in California have included the Big Sur Experimental Music Festival and collaborations with Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Bob Marsh, John Shiurba, and Brian Eubanks.
Simon will be joined by fellow Aotearoan, “eelectric” bassist and “eelectronic” musician Paul Winstanley, and instrument-inventor Tom Nunn, who often play together as the virtuoso free-improv duo Music For Hard Times.
Paul Winstanley is an improvising electric bass player from New Zealand who specializes in extended techniques. In addition to trying to make his bass sound like electronics he is interested in making electronic music that sounds like natural environments. He has several solo projects including Sci Hi (electronic feedback), Speed Cook (music from sound samples and non-musical sounds) and The Complete Recordings (artificial simulations of field recordings).
Paul lived in Auckland, New Zealand for 10 years where he was part of the growing local and national experimental/improvising music scene, playing in groups w/luminaries like instrument inventor Phil Dadson, percussionist John Bell, radical concert brass band The NZ Dominion Centenary Concert Band, folk icon Fats White, abstract electronic supergroup Plains and improvising electronic trio Audible 3. Paul was a founding member of Auckland improvising collective vitamin_s (Wikipedia, website), which has drawn improvisatory trios from a pool of 100+ members for a weekly concert series for over a decade. Paul was also active in the Houston avant-improv scene, before settling in San Francisco.
Tom Nunn (Bold Italic interview, bio), has designed, built and performed with original musical instruments since 1976, and has built over 200 instruments, including his latest obsession, the visually arresting Skatchbox.
His instruments typically use commonly available materials, are sculptural in appearance, use contact microphones for amplification, and are designed specifically for improvisation with elements of ambiguity, unpredictability and nonlinearity. Tom has performed extensively throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for over 30 years, as well as in other parts of the U.S., Canada, Europe, and New Zealand, both as soloist and with other musicians. Tom also performs with T.D. Skatchit, RTD3, Ghost in the House, Music for Hard Times (duo with Paul Winstanley) and has appeared on a number of recordings, including his solo CD, Identity (2007), T.D. Skatchit & Company (2009) and Skatch Migration (2010) (Edgetone Records). In 1998, he published Wisdom of the Impulse: On the Nature of Musical Free Improvisation.
As a duo, Music For Hard Times is more than the sum of its formidable parts and has not only performed regularly throughout the Bay Area over the last two years, but has recorded a series of brilliantly unclassifiable albums at Tom Nunn’s instrument-inventor’s laboratory and experimental music venue/studio, The Nunnery. Check out these one-of-a-kind sonic adventures at their label, Docking Station.
It’s my great pleasure and honor to join these eminent colleagues for your listening enjoyment.
Join us for a glorious afternoon of electronic, extended, invented, antipodean improv – kia ora!