The Robinwood Concert House has become an unlikely on-the-road destination for a disparate genre of performers who share a common thread of existing on the periphery of music’s radar, such as Basshaters, a San Francisco duo playing improvised electro-acoustic music.
The pair played a recent gig on a pleasant Thursday evening at the Robinwood, with a "stage" consisting of a fold-out table covered with electronic noise-making gadgets and two chairs.
The atmosphere was appropriately stark, with the only light coming from two candles near the performers, who scratched and banged on cymbals to generate electronic noise that would blend in well with a 1950s sci-fi film featuring UFOs and laser beams.
The audience of a dozen people was quiet and respectful of the musicians: Jacob Felix Heule on cymbals and machines, and Tony Dryer, manning the bulk of the electro-devices.
There was no melody or hook in the music they were making; each performance piece was a minimalist cacophony of improvised metallic scratches, hums, and whirs tied together — loosely — by virtue of having a standard beginning, middle, and end.
This was out-there music. And to many raised on mainstream radio, what the Basshaters were doing would be considered a whole lot of noise, perhaps a step or two above the sound pollution of a construction site.
Kirk Baird, Toledo Blade
THOMAS PETER - CIRCULAR (CDR by Theme Park)
BASSHATERS - DEUX BOULETS (CDR by Live Actions)
I've reviewed this label before, once again surprising, original and creative stuff. Circular is given its origin in feedback system, drums and objects, is a beautiful restrained work, the feedback is delicate controlled - "musically" that is, which is shared by the other disk - a musicality of improvisation, though not in anyway thematic, are Tony Dryer: double bass, electronics, Jacob Felix Heule: drum set, electronics. A live recording made in Liege - Improv - and not bad. they use both electronics and 'conventional' instruments here in one long improvised piece - a strangely compulsive piece at that. it does fall into a rhythm at one point but this is not in anyway unexpected. At my most critical these disk can both be "listened to". Which makes them in present climate strange oddities.. A good thing. Maybe 'just' listened to. surely not a bad thing?
Jliat, Vital Weekly 751
By Jacob Heule by Tony Dryer by drum and bass through circuits by circuits and mics to amps comes on Basshaters, San Francisco electronic music composed by improvisation to tape shaped sounds of old instruments newer each time scraped, rubbed, thumped, stroked and fumbled artfully by intuition, purposeful purposelessness and direct cognizance forced through a myriad of algorithmic change, producing fecund fuzz bursting life passed electronic echolocution signals humming presence of short lived scratches of white noise being and dying through knobs by distance by closing in by dialing in next to chaos breeding time space after time space controlled to lose control of an ambience of exacting mistakes in each take of audile signal destruction flows signals low to lush thorns.
Multi-colored buddha-inspired hand drawn art work. Clear cassettes, no labels or inserts. Mysterious, how cool?
John Collins McCormick, Foxy Digitalis
Je ne connaissais rien de Basshaters avant d’écouter cet enregistrement d’un de leurs concerts. Au fil des recherches, une page myspace m’en apprend plus : un duo d’Américains constitué de Tony Dryer et Jacob Felik Heule = contrebasse et batterie et de l’électronique (ce serait moins drôle sans). Le duo a déjà joué avec les saxophonistes Jack Wright et Michel Doneda, alors j’imaginais un dialogue déconstruit et cérébral...
Or, quand le disque démarre, un bruit de rotatives retentit, assourdissant si le volume est assez fort, qui vient peut être de micros que l’on gratte. Pour suivre, un larsen se fait entendre, des chants d’oiseaux (ou sinon c’est moi qui fantasme…) perdus dans un brouillard sonore épais et cataleptique. Les moteurs ne cesseront plus de suffoquer, de s’emballer même jusqu’à faire craquer le plancher (ou sinon c’est moi qui fantasme). Des pauses essayent bien de calmer le tout, mais rien n’y fait : le duo continue de protester, haut et fort. Le tout est aride et très impressionnant, Basshaters m’a convaincu que je fantasmais moins que je ne pouvais le penser...
Pierre Cécile © Le son du grisli