Sunday, October 3, 2010

Local Musicians Freak-Out in My Living Room

Kevin Winter (l) and David Sutton (r) join sonic forces in an impromptu experimental noise-music performance, in my New Brunswick, NJ living room. (Photo:

The atmosphere of a local New Brunswick D.I.Y. music show last Friday became quite weird, quite quickly. As planned however, the free show hosted in my living room luckily, spotlighted a few of the greater New Brunswick's most talented experimental music artists, a genre popularly-unpopular and generally unpalatable to the ears of most listeners who are newly exposed to it.


As vague as the term 'experimental' can be, the boundaries for what defines this genre of music to be are similarly blurred. Usually dissonant in aesthetic, it does not always sound harsh and though most times lacking percussion and drums, some of the most popular artists involved with the genre use them. This night, a strong mix of the best locals shared the floor. One in particular, Kevin Winter, has gained a substantial international following throughout his nearly decade long career. 


Kevin Winter, who has a lengthy collection of self-releases and even a few funded by independently owned record labels, primarily under his moniker "2673", is truly a master of his kind. He has been personally accredited to and shared split-releases with both Kevin Drumm and Bill Nelson, both 'noise-gods' in their own rights. Often further described as 'drone' music, a 2673 recording is bound to provide deep auditory collages that subtly guide the listener on a flowing wave of bass tones that may or may not appear to originate from planet earth. 


Using a vintage synthesizer piano to create an initial sustaining note, he maintained the sound and manipulated it through various electronic effects processors and reverb-creating devices. The 'drone' refers to his music's unending quality as it seems to begin at an arbitrary point in time and travel relentlessly forward. Joining him on special occasion, a fellow 'weirdo' musician, Dave Sutton, who is most commonly seen holding an out-of-tune guitar in the wonderfully ear-challenging band Car Commercials, took role as copilot in the duo's cosmic journey through time and sound.


Sutton's control station included an amplified laptop which compiled a 'hand-recorded' collection of assorted sound clips, which included sounds from his television set and of him sleeping. He distorted his audio output through similar effects processors, guitar effects pedals and sound mixers. Together, the two artists collaborated in an impromptu, highly-cooperative sound performance.


"I really enjoyed the contrast between Kevin's analog synth drones and Dave's digitally processed samples," said Mike "K" Kryskowiak, a local in the 'noise' community, as both a supporter and musician. "Kevin's ability to extract violently hypnotic ear-puncturing drones in a totally body-numbing way is something I see so rarely that I'm glad I cancelled my plans to stay in all night and watch Star Trek to come out to see this... I mean that in a good way."


To some, their exchange may have seemed to be at random but from watching their collective concentration and intense focus while generating each electronic blip, squeal and crescendoed ripple, the sonic conversation appeared more deliberate and cohesive. 


"You could really tell where each (Winter and Sutton) was coming from, both with clear ideas... they almost seemed to try and 'one-up' one another, in a friendly manner," cited fellow noise-music heavyweight, Tonio Hubilla, who also performed that night with Kate McGonigle, under the name 'Hikkikomori'. Their set represented the lighter side of the 'noise' music spectrum, utilizing three sunshine-sounding air-powered organs with the help of a battery-powered droning box, which modestly mimicked a sitar. 

Their performance was equally impressive, even without amplification, though it's weirdness proved to be a bit too overwhelming for one person watching. 


"Do something! You've been playing the same note for twenty minutes," yelled the jean jacket with the cut-off sleeves wearing, long-haired stranger, quite audibly. On his way out the door, a final " something,"  triggered his disappearance for the remainder of the night and a collective chuckle amongst the rest who stayed.


"I was trying real hard to hold in my laughter," exclaimed "K". "Everyone was silently laughing together, even Kate and Tonio." 


This brand of music is exceptionally challenging to music fans who use attention spans that are capable, only of lasting the distance between drum-hits in sequence with scorching guitar solos.

Other bands on the bill were Bog Body, a dungeon-toned, noisy dark-blues driven band, and the all-girl Sparkle Shit, who nicely touch upon a combination of rock styles from the sloppy garage era of the 1960s through the noisy guitar trash of the '80s.

Also in closing spirits, neo-Americana folk phenom King Darves shared an intimate 1:30 a.m. 'night-cap' performance to a dozen and a half silent, couch-creepers. As if the living room's fifteen-foot ceilings had not served to be of a bonus sound advantage during the earlier, amplified acts, the room's openness added a natural reverb to Darves' baritone vocal melodies, as thick as Tennessee whiskey.

My house, nicknamed 'The Nicolas Cage' (to withhold actual address from pestering cops) hosts shows of this variety on a monthly to bi-monthly basis.


The shows are generally free, unless a suggested donation (given to touring musicians) is encouraged. If you are interested in attending, you can e-mail me at, ask through word-of-mouth around New Brunswick town, or keep your eyes out for a xeroxed flyer going around (or e-flyer via Facebook). 

To find out more about local New Brunswick experimental music or if you feel an urge to 'get weird' amongst other weirdos, come over next time!

SPECIAL NOTE: Also check out K's video journalism blog documenting many overlapping artists ("in a drunken and terse style") at HUBCITYNOISE.

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