1995 Norcal Experimental Music Festival
Review by Heckler Magazine:

The Noise (Festival) Of American Music

Normally, Sacramento is a pretty sleepy town when it comes to music and art. I guess I'm talking about culture. Being 90 miles from San Francisco doesn't help much either, as we are usually overshadowed and overlooked by our neighbor to the Southwest. But I like it here, there are lot's of good bands, a few good galleries, plenty of places to get coffee, lot's of places to skate, 90 miles from Tahoe, two rivers to fish and swim in and there's some good weeks as well. The week of November 1-12 was a good week. California State University Sacramento was hosting their Festival of New American Music, (featuring one of my favorite artists, Phillip Glass), local noise-meisters EMRL were hosting the Nor-Cal Noise Festival and to top it all off, one of my favorite bands was in town: Fugazi!

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The next day was Saturday, and I hooked up with Sonny for a trip to the Guild Theater to check out the Nor-Cal Noise festival. EMRL is a group of Sacramento noise musicians and they were the hosts for this event. Bands/artists came from LA, Arizona, Oregon, Canada and even our nieghboring San Francisco bay area to play the festival. What is noise music??? Noise music is to industrial music as punk is to Debbie Gibson. The funny thing is that within all the noise there is a certain peace that develops. One of my favorite author/musicians John Cage says that "All sound is music." I think he would have felt right at home at the Guild. We caught three acts, and they were all pretty fuckin' bitchin. Yau was a solo performer from San Luis Obispo and his "instrument" looked like an old set of bedsprings. In his own words: "All sounds sculpted in this piece are produced from springs, treated guitar and xenon/strobe flashes. The sounds of the xenon/strobe flash are the sounds of internal capacitors conducting a path to discharge the main capacitor in which a flash is then produced. The capacitors in the xenon/strobe flash and all electric circuits are analogous to springs in mechanical systems; they both store energy. With synthesizers, we hear the aesthetics of electrically prepared energy. With this piece, "Amplified Capacitance," we hear the aesthetics of energy in it's rawest form." It sounded pretty cool. Next up was the Media Exploitation Centre from Dublin, California. They didn't have any scientific theories, but they still had a message. They were kind of coffee house punk sounding. They used drums, guitars and a trumpet, and one of the guys had the world's biggest chain wallet. They would scream a lot and part of their show actually resembled songs. They had a TV set on stage and at the end of their set with everything feeding back out of control, they destroyed the TV Set and a bunch of cassette tapes by bands like Metallica and Alice In Chains. I liked them, and BTW they don't like television. Next we caught Stimbox from San Francisco. Another solo act, he used a bunch of guitar effects all chained together to make a cool feedback soundscape. The performance consisted of turning them off and and on, re-patching them and adjusting them. Very minimalistic, I mean reductivist. After Stimbox, we had to go to the Grind Skatepark to catch Fugazi, but that's a whole 'nother story.

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That wrapped up my week of the Noise (Festival) of New American Music [+ Fugazi] and I was stoked that I was able to hear so much interesting and challenging music in one week. It truly provided an "alternative" to the alterna-fodder that usually plays on "alternative" radio and in the clubs.

Copyright 1996 Heckler Magazine.