The Gatherings Concert Series
17 April 2004St. Mary's Hamilton Village
Review: AirSculpture live in Philadelphia
After walking the 20+ blocks from the bus station on 10th to the venue on 40th, I made my way up the steps to the side entrance of St. Mary's church. Bill Fox was there with Peter Ruczynski and Adrian Beasley from the band; they had just emerged from behind the red doors on their way to get something to eat and I shook hands and said hello before they left. This turned out to be a reunion of sorts - for about a quarter of those who were at the 2002 Ricochet Gathering in the Okefenokee Swamp: besides myself, also in attendance for this evening were Vic Rek, Bill Fox, Howard Moscovitz, as well as Peter and John Christian from AirSculpture.
Eventually, other attendees arrived at the steps of the church and we talked while waiting to be admitted. This was all done in competition with some sort of Spring Fling taking place on the University of Pennsylvania campus - there was even a band playing less than a football field away and we all hoped that there would be no problem come showtime. Fortunately, the party outside calmed down and did not interfere with the show we came to see.
After taking my usual seat in the front row, I talked a little with some people around me before Chuck van Zyl appeared and introduced the band. The first set began with a beautiful piano solo by Adrian, which had also started the in-studio radio show on WDIY a couple of days before. A little while later, Peter and John also took the stage and this was where the sequencing took off and, for the next fifty minutes or so, we were treated to the mostly improvisational compositions of these three musicians who seemed very relaxed and comfortable on stage, as well as a little bit of a light show.
There was a brief intermission and the band was introduced again. This second set started out with some very experimental sounds (that of a passing freight train taken from the last Ricochet Gathering at the Mojave Desert, I believe) that were processed and treated before some highly energetic playing on the keyboards/synths and some blazing sequences. A well-deserved standing ovation was given until John Christian squatted down in front of the microphone and explained that much of the equipment was being used for the first time, hence some technical glitches and a few bum notes. Some of the music was even written in the middle of Chuck's living room in the few days before the concert.
They began the encore, with Adrian asking the audience for a tempo. It was very loud and aggressive - but also nothing short of magical. Hopefully the music they played during their stay in the States does not fade into oblivion and will one day appear on a future release. Though it has been three years since the release of Quark Soup. Still, this was an experience that will be hard to forget.
Review: AirSculpture live in Philadelphia 04.17.04
Just when you thought that things couldn't get any better, another wave of British arrive on the shores of the east coast USA to continue the invasion that started with Ian Boddy and will end up with Radio Massacre International. Of course, I mean AirSculpture! Pete, John, and Adrian did the Pennsylvania EM Trifecta; EMUSIC - The Gatherings Concert Series - Star's End. And it's a race that tests the endurance and measures the depths of an artist.
On Thursday, AirSculpture played on EMUSIC after connecting their gear literally for the first time. A fine job but, as it turned out, only a hint of what was to come. The second event in the trifecta was the Gatherings Concert Series at St. Mary's church on the Penn campus. It was easy to tell that sequences had been improved in the intervening two days. But the second set broke the mold and was far more experimental before the stonking sequences arrived. A well deserved standing ovation and short encore followed. Then it was off to WXPN to play on Star's End. Weaving between the Spring Flinging college students and fighting them for the last slice of pizza had no effect on the matters at hand; setting up the gear YET AGAIN after hauling it up two REALLY LONG flights of ancient, creaking stairs. (Good thing it was only a KX-88 and not a Steinway concert grand!) The 2 to 3 am set, though marred with a few technical glitches, began with the same Adrian Beasley piano solo that started The Gatherings concert. But soon, new territory was being explored and magic was evident. The second and final set ran from 4 to 5 am and I must say that the second half was absolutely brilliant! It was a beautiful sequence that graduated from the Berlin School and earned its advanced degree in ambient electronic music. What a way to cross the finish line. Trifecta completed.
by Bill Fox
|Concert Photos by Bill Forcier|
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The Gatherings Concert Series is presented by the all-volunteer staff of The Corporation for Innovative Music and Arts of Pennsylvania