Good ol’ Art Damage Lodge opened up its doors last Friday to its regular crowd of chin-scratching art buffs, alcoholic hipsters and crusty noise mongrels, who filed into a hot, sticky room and plopped down on hot, sticky couches to get their fix of some hot, sticky, live experimental muse-sick.
The headlining act, performance artist, surrealist/etymologist and noise musician Irene Moon, kicked off the night’s festivities with a short film projection. It featured a series of still shots of a shifting, antlered dude connected to wires and moving in profile against an escutcheon-shaped background, its patterns constantly morphing and stretching from soothing and colorfully lit to stark, paranoid and bleak. A hypnotic, pre-recorded, amplified-insect-digesting-a-weed-whacker-in-a-trash-compactor soundtrack lulled the room into a wide-eyed stupor and eventually swelled to a suspenseful point. Interesting stuff, but it was somewhat unclear as to what the visual accompaniment was intended to achieve other than to provide a conceptual, creepy/gothic-looking background (or a disjointed, absurdist horror show) for the sounds.
The one-sallow-man electronic project known as Three-Legged Race was on next. Stark, awkward beats that initially sounded, as my friend Charlie pointed out, like a guy doing a synth demo in a music store, were slowly engulfed into staticy washes of analog keyboard noise. Vocals that recalled Gibby-with-a-megaphone-era Butthole Surfers were added to the mix as TLR worked his synths and various other mystery devices. While he managed to build all of this into a cool, hypnotic drone that sustained itself for a few minutes, the experiment fell on its face when TLR anticlimactically ended his set with an annoying and poorly executed two-note keyboard line.
Irene Moon’s was the obvious winner of the three performances that night. She’s a pro, after all, having worked in multiple performance art and noise music capacities over the past 13 years. The renaissance woman positioned herself at a table of electronic instrumentation set behind a white screen. Moon, complete with pig-snout mask attached to her face, struck a shadowed profile upon the screen as the projector shone a giant circle whose color shifted from lime green to blood-red to an eerie orange glow. Black-and-white visual interference reminiscent of a possessed TV on a fuzzy, horizontal roll strobed madly by behind it. With a distorted, husky voice, Moon proceeded to tell a twisted, mostly incomprehensible fairy tale with a musical backtrack similar to the industrial lullabye that accompanied her opening film. Super-cool stuff. My only beef is that no one was passing around joints. I mean, seriously, people!
Check out some of Irene’s far-out videos on her YouTube channel.