Mike Griffin + Dave Fultonlive at
The Gatherings Concert Series
Saturday 19 October 2002 - 8:00pm
St. Mary's Hamilton Village
Mike Griffin + Dave Fulton
Mike Griffin + Dave Fulton
Mike Griffin - Dave Fulton - Jeff Pearce
Mike Griffin - Dave Fulton - Jeff Pearce
Review: Beyond and Within
From our seating position on the right side of the church, a piece of stage equipment would obstruct our view of Jeff Pearce's guitar playing all evening long. We would lose the perspective of seeing the magical transition of fingers to strings to the most beautiful sound ever to emanate from the guitar. Still, I would manage to find another rewarding focal point to accompany the purest sense of tranquility provided by the wondrous sound.
Oh, that which is revealed by looking into the eyes.
Pearce, who has spoken eloquently throughout the three concert performances I've seen him give, confessed early in his set that much of the material he planned to play would be difficult to perform. If I had not heard a previous interview with Jeff, my intial reaction to this statement may have been that he would be about to perform technically difficult pieces (also, Chuck van Zyl had also introduced Jeff by saying that his performance contained no pre-recorded music; a rarity during any electronic music event). But Pearce would go on to openly explain that the many of the songs he would play, those in particular from his brand new release, "Bleed," contained music inspired by the discovery and re-reading of his journals from his youth. Some of these reawakenings were obviously accompanied by pain.
By looking into his eyes, you could see. The concentration, the care, the creativity, the longing, the remembering; all casting a spell.
Somehow, on this brisk autumn evening, it was colder inside the church than outdoors. At first, as we looked around, we thought the chuch half empty, but then noticed that the Gatherers had altered our normal perspective by having closed in upon themselves. We guessed that this was due to a combination of the chill and of the need to be close to the performers. From my personal experience at the Gathering series, I can say that I've never been more drawn to an event than this one. If someone were to ask me to define, or demarcate, maybe, exactly what the Gathering series represents; I'd have to choose last night's Gathering with Pearce, Mike Griffin and Dave Fulton as the ideal representation of this. This was such a magical evening; and probably the finest example yet of the warm sensation of coming together that occurs several times a year in St. Mary's.
This would be the night that Hypnos founder and musician Mike Griffin and Hypnos musician Jeff Pearce, after years of developing a friendship through correspondence and music, would meet. Gordon Danis, the ultimate voice of elegance in this genre (I cannot wait to hear his impressions of this evening), made it to the show. Coming down from his home in New York had to be a difficult trip for him. Shaking his hand tonight filled me with warmth. So many hard core fans traveled great distances to be there last night.
Ultimately, though, it's the sharing of the music that draws us. Pearce's set consisted of a half dozen shorter pieces from "Bleed", which surrounded a sublimely beautiful ambient drift that seemed to last nearly a half hour. This extended flow was highlighted by movements from "Bleed" as well, but at one point sequed nearly invisibly into and out of "Beyond and Within" from "To the Shores of Heaven", maybe Jeff's most beautiful composition, Praise, too, deserves to be heaped upon Griffin and Fulton's opening set; a continuous, mostly low-key affair that eventually evolved into an energized sequenced movement. Mike and Dave are celebrating the release of a brand new CD of their own, called "Imprint". Our smooth host, Chuck van Zyl, would comment, after this opening set, on the contrast of styles of these two musicians; individualities of form that combines into a unique and entertaining sound. As well, van Zyl mentioned the contrast of instrument both artists performed upon, describing Fulton's homemade, and rather huge, modulator and compared this to Griffin's state-of-the-art laptop. Visuals were captivating during this set. Grid evolutions of computer graphics; from flat planes to vortexes to some truly far out stuff; seems I imagined objects like mollusks, and there was obviously an American flag.
After the music was all played and done, I stood in St. Mary's parish hall, standing in line at the men's room door (doing a unique "man, I gotsta go!" Mummers-like strut). This is where I met Mike Griffin. Standing there in line, we spent our time chatting about the evening that had just transpired; but mostly about the music of Jeff Pearce.Jeff was warm and amusing all evening. While introducing the first piece from "Bleed", (it's called "Autumn and Regret" and, like every other piece on this CD, is magical and stunningly beautiful), Jeff mentioned that throughout the creation and recording process of "Bleed" that Griffin had heard this particular song hundreds of times. "Mike got so sick of this song that he made me promise never to make him listen to it again", Jeff said into his microphone. Jeff then shot a wink in the direction of Griffin, seated out in the church; and commenced playing the gorgeous song. Sorry, Jeff. Mike loved it. :)
The last piece of music we heard was an encore with all three musicians; ten minutes long; of sights locked, of music to our ears, and history in the making.
Review: Pearce/Griffin/Fulton Gathering
I had a great time at the Gathering on Saturday; I came down from Harrisburg with my date. Nothing like bringing somebody to their first Gathering. She loved it! Before it even started, she wanted to know who the artist was being played over the PA. As soon as she found out it was Richard Pinhas, she said she was coming back for that show! And this is somebody who is really new to the whole genre. Such a cool crowd -- some hippies, some couples, some students...all there to take in a unique experience.
I have to agree with soma611 (above) that the stage layout seemed to block a lot of the "action" to those of us sitting on the right side. Perhaps it would have been better to put Jeff Pearce on the other side of the stage and have him more sideways to the audience (like a classical pianist); he would have been facing Griffin & Fulton instead of having his back to them for the collaborative encore. Also would have moved the huge towering rack that Fulton played over and out of the way of the projection screen. The visuals were still way cool, though! Not being able to see much of Dave fiddling with the knobs or Jeff's fingers on the guitar forced us to 'listen' more with our ears, and less with our eyes, in a way. And that turned out to be a good thing, actually.
Griffin & Fulton started, and it was interesting to watch the contrast in their styles as they worked together. Both were concentrating & focused; very intense. Mike worked his magic on the laptop, Dave was frequently repatching cables, twiddling knobs on the massive rack, playing on the keyboard. They produced a very atmostpheric sound, starting with a quiet intro that eventually gave way to a massive exploration. Full of textures, panning sounds back & forth. At one point, I could really feel the subwoofer shaking away! At some points, Mike would nod in response to what Dave did as changes occurred. I'm a big fan of Dweller At The Threshold, and seeing Dave interacting with somebody else was very interesting.
Next up was Jeff Pearce, and I was really looking forward to this, as I unfortunately couldn't make his last Gathering performance. I was really amazed at how little MIDI, if any, Jeff used to create his deep, lush soundscapes. Mostly processing of the electric guitars, from what I could tell, although there may be more going on than that. My date even commented later on how full of a sound Jeff got all by himself, and as Chuck commented, all "live". Quite a revelation.
And there there was the Chapman Stick! Way cool to watch Jeff working on that massive instrument. I hope to hear more of Jeff's explorations on the Stick in the future, as there seems to me to be a lot of potential there. Jeff talked a bit about most of numbers between compositions, and most of them were from the new CD "Bleed", although I recognized one piece from "Shores of Heaven". His sense of humor was really funny, too.
As a guitarist myself, it was also very educational to see Jeff's use of the knife! I even moved briefly to another seat to get a better glimpse.
And I actually liked the fact that it was a little cool inside the church... as it made my date snuggle up to me, I'm sure just for some warmth! Heh! Judging from looking around, there were other couples that were huddled together as well.
The best part of it all for me was the encore, when all three were on stage. Here is where I really drifted off into that altered state between consciousness and somewhere else. A great climax to a wonderful show. A "jam session" of sorts! It ended all too soon for me, and before I knew it, we were back on the PA Turnpike in the nighttime (thank goodness for Starbucks!). Got home just in time for the STAR'S END radio show, and it was awesome to lay there listening to the live performances all night.
There is nothing like a Gathering, and once again I'm left with that special feeling that lingers on afterwards. Seeing things from a different, rich perspective. Can't wait for the November shows! Finally, Radio Massacre Int'l live! Whoo hooo! See you there.
Review: Senses Working Overtime
As one half of a huddled couple, I was elated to see Jeff Pearce, along with the duo of Mike Griffin and Dave Fulton, at my first Gathering. Please allow me an ambient "shout out" to all of the wonderful people I met or re-met: Bill and Cindy, Jeff T. and Jeff K., Matt Harris (though somehow I missed you in person I felt you in spirit), Dark Ducker Stephen Phillips, John Diliberto, and especially Jim Brenholts, to whom I owe a huge debt for his insight into the ambient community and the music.
Like Joe, I was a bit sight challenged, but I also was happy to have squozen (word)? my squeeze Laurel in order to generate some necessary body heat. The cold environment was in sharp contrast to the propulsive and exuberant music of Mike Griffin (on laptop) and Dave Fulton (on his entry to the "Popular Mechanics Build Your Own Synth" contest-Saul Stokes, you have competition)! At first, I did not realize that Mike's keypad controlled part of the sound; I forgot about the presence of Jeff Towne in the rear, dark portion of the church, who served up a tasty visual stew, not Mike. It was only when Dave would rip off an unanticipated line on the synth, and Mike would press his keys while giving Dave a "where in the world did THAT come from?" look, that I realized that Mike and Dave were equal partners in the music.
Dave, a special thanks for looking how an ambient musician SHOULD look; Mike, if you press "Ctrl-Alt-Delete" simultaneously, does Dave disappear?
I still have a ways to go in my understanding of laptop music; what a sight it was to peer at Mike, looking every bit like a CPA on a Casual Friday, playing in and extending upon what many call the "Berlin school" of music. Indeed, the music coupled with the light show had a delightfully "retro" feel, at least until Mike would tap a key or Dave would patch us forward into the 21st century. Laurel and I listened to "Imprint" on the way home; this is a disc with so much detail that it will take every listen to unfold it a bit more. Highly recommended for headphones.
My biggest revelation about Jeff Pearce was not musical; owning all of his CDs, I had a good idea of the musical feast which lay before me. Knowing Jeff only through the Hypnos Forum and an occasional email, I was taken aback to see a young, sprightly, clean cut Indianan, who greeted myself and Laurel with a sincere "glad you could make it" welcome. His between song patter was humorous and self effacing, as if even Jeff cannot always believe the beauty of the music which unfolds from his hands. The overall mood of Jeff's music was melancholy, in keeping with the rediscovered teenage journal entries which form the basis of "Bleed." Jeff played a piece from "Shores" which sparked recognition, as well as his aforementioned experiment with the Chapman stick. I have a feeling that Jeff will be tapping away at the Stick for years to come.
The piece that resonated with me the most, though, was "Autumn and Regret," which showed Jeff's incorporation of the "Windham Hillians" like Will Ackerman and Michael Hedges. Take that acoustic delicacy and morph it through the hands of Jeff Pearce and the gear that assists him, and you have some magnificent music.
There was so much THERE there, on that cold night in Philly, that sometimes it was a challenge to try to take it all in. But our senses were working amidst the finest traditions of music and performance.
Access the continuing discussion of the Pearce - Griffin - Fulton concert on the Hypnos Forum
Review: The Gathering with Jeff Pearce, Mike Griffin + Dave Fulton
Note to self: Wear the waterproof mascara the *next* time you see Jeff Pearce perform live.
Before I venture in to Jeff's Gathering performance, let me say a few things about the evening in general. Temperature-wise, it may have been the coldest of nights at St. Mary's; but, spiritually, it was the warmest. The feeling of camaraderie amongst all those in attendance was unparalleled. It all began with us recognizing familiar faces waiting outside the door. "Where is Gordon?" was the plaintive battle cry. Thankfully, he showed up right as the first set was about to commence. How wonderful it was to give this previously sight-unseen friend a hug... after all this time. And, before that, to give Jeff a warm embrace, after not sharing the same physical space with him since he last played in Philly. Yes, the man is real enough to eschew any performer "mystique" in favor of actually getting to greet his friends and fans at the door. We met and warmly greeted many others in our community prior to the start of the show. It was, already, a lovely night.
Mike Griffin and Dave Fulton certainly did not disappoint. Their styles of music have been called "contrasting." After hearing them play, I'd like to amend that description to "dovetailing" ...splendidly so. Honestly, they meshed so well, it was hard for this (albeit untrained ear) to tell where one ended and the other began. There was one moment where the music "creshendo-ed" into a dramatic denouement... we looked at each other as if to say, "oh, yes." I loved the hints of ominous sci-fi organ music, as well as the sequenced "ray gun" assaults that darted in throughout the performance.
One thing did surprise me. Our jovial "bon vivant" of a Hypnos site moderator, Mike Griffin, was curiously serious during most of his set. I'm thinking that maybe his deadpan expression was a nod to the Devo/Kraftwerk school of stage presence. Aw, he was adorable, nevertheless. Dave Fulton (who obviously frequents the same hair salon as does Art Cohen) was contrastingly about as animated and active as any artist I've ever seen at St. Mary's.
Kudos go to Jeff Towne. Never have I been more awestruck at how well what I was seeing enhanced what I was hearing. The essence of the visuals... imagine a three-dimension, animated Spyrograph, on acid. Very cool.
And then, it was Jeff's turn. Wow. Having been blown away by him during his last Gathering performance a few years ago... let me say this: Like the proverbial fine wine, time has only proved to enhance him, as a person, and as an artist. What he did onstage last Saturday revealed a man who has grown, in depth, nuance, and maturity. His music and his command of the audience resonate with a refinement that is only achieved (by the best of us) with experience and introspection.
Yes, I too was dismayed that I could not see his magical finger work from my vantage point. But, ultimately, it did not matter. Furthermore, not to sound critical, but, even the background visuals seemed superfluous to his set. Simply watching the man as he coaxed the most breathtaking sounds from his instruments was enough.
Make no mistake about this, tears did well up in my eyes as he played his first piece. And, soon after, his music made me gasp. It literally took my breath away for a second. I'll be honest here, I'm a sucker for Jeff's melodies. Not much in my world could compare to his ability to make me cry. Fancy adjectives aside, so sad, so beautiful. Jeff has made no secret about the inspiration for his latest release, "Bleed." It was a catharsis of his revisiting and exorcising some painful demons from his youth. Having corresponded with him, I have some insight into the details of his travails. As sad as I am, as a friend, that he had to go through what he did to bring us "Bleed," as a music lover, I can only say that I'm grateful that he did.
In writing my thoughts on Jeff's previous Gathering, I'd mentioned the "sonic alchemy" he uses to get the sounds that he does out of a single guitar. I now realize that the alchemy he practices is of a far higher order. Jeff Pearce is gifted with the ability to gorgeously transmute the deepest and rawest of human emotions into the most heart wrenching, and yet ultimately heart mending of music. It simply hits you to your core, profoundly and exquisitely. Yes, Jeff will rip your heart out, but he'll gently give it back to you, better for the experience.
Another note to self: don't post about Jeff Pearce whilst actually listening to his new Record.
Seriously, what a beautiful evening. Thank you to everyone.
Review: The Gathering with Jeff Pearce, Mike Griffin + Dave Fulton
On a somewhat chilly October evening, an audience of about 100 people were treated to another concert event in the realm of Ambient music. The stone and wood building of St. Mary's sanctuary was again filled with the resonance of sound layering and the reverberant rhythm of sequential patterns. The featured artists were: Mike Griffin and Dave Fulton, who played the first set of music, and later guitarist, Jeff Pearce.
Griffin and Fulton, their new release " Imprint" were outfitted differently than what I had become accustomed to seeing in an Ambient presentation. Instead of a collection of keyboards from Yamaha, Roland, Nord, EMS, Korg, etc.. their set-up was almost without a keyboard (ok, they did have an old Oberheim, but it was a loaner from Chuck V. and served as a trigger for Dave's rack). This pair was perhaps a view into the future of electronic music. Mike Griffin sat statuesquely behind a small laptop MAC, with another "black box" of electronics before him, and of course a mouse. Dave Fulton had a rack mounted system in a wooden cabinet that stood almost 7 feet tall. Atop the rack was a sequencer and below rack, modular synthesizers with filters and effects. The modular units were joined by a series of patch cords. (...the days of Moog long gone..) The performance of the two artists was unique in their "body motion". Mike was close to motionless (although he did later seem to rock a bit in motion to the music) other than his hands, whereas Dave was in a constant state of tuning "pots" triggering keys, adjusting filters and introducing sounds. Occassionally they would speak a word or two between them, but were otherwise fully involved in performing their "creation " of music. Their set lasted about 40-45 minutes, but I lost track of time and honestly could care less about time while I'm listening. An ever- changing video display of 3-D graphic designs played behind them, but I found myself switching between watching the screen and just closing my eyes, since I feel electronic music is best viewed in complete darkness, which allows your mind to "wander" within the composition.
After a brief intermission, Jeff Pearce, without shoes (white socks), sat down with a few guitars and a Chapman stick. He also was a contrast in concert, since he began by actually speaking to the audience. He spoke about his new release "Bleed" and would first play some short pieces from it and then proceed to more "ambient" style selections. His gear included fender stratocasters, an E-Bow and playing with a common butter knife across the neck of his guitar. The audience would applaud after each piece, which were short in comparision to the normal electronic compositions... (Chuck can't run out for a pizza on these type pieces at 2:30 am - course, who the hell's open then anyway?) I really enjoyed one piece "Beyond and Within" and spoke to Jeff after the show to find out what cd it appeared on. "To the shores of Heaven"... then went and promptly bought it (I bought "'as well, since it's not easy to find these artists without some searching first). The concert ended with a combined effort by all three artists playing together. (I really think Jimi Hendrix would have been proud seeing the usuage of new instruments and applications on guitar.) The evening's show provided a surrounding to take the "chill" out of the October air and replace it with soothing echoes and calming tones.
Wow and to think I gave up watching tv at home for this...
The Gatherings Concert Photos by Bill Forcier
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