Pressed Inaugural ‘NOT NORMAL’ Experimental Music Night

June 7th, 2016 by  |  Published in Concerts

Pressed NOT NORMAL logo

On Thursday, Pressed cafe and coffehouse inaugurated their extra-special reoccurring event, NOT NORMAL: Experimental Music Night. Hosted by Ottawa independent labels, Bruised Tongue and Low Noise Productions, and featuring strings and electronics artist, Mark Molnar, this night proved to be one of provocative and daunting exploratory listening.

Pierre Richardson and Jason Skilz

This evening dedicated to music that eradicates musical boundaries and definitions began when Pierre Richardson, photographer and co-owner of Bruised Tongue, spun such innovative cutting-edge artists as Self Surgery, Andy Boay and Damo Suzuki with Heavy Mental. Proprietor of Spins & Needles and Low Noise Productions, Jason Skilz (a.k.a. Transmit), rounded out this incredible night with dj-ing choice Techno, House, Tech House and Experimental pieces from his own repertoire and his label. Both Pierre and Jason exhibited quality examples of experimental, fore-thinking music that simultaneously melded with, and added counterpoint to, the exquisite performance of the featured artist, Mark Molnar.

Having played strings and electronics with Kingdom Shore, 1/4 Tonne Spike Pitcher, Generator, Mice, as well as in various musical assemblages with artists such as Eric Craven, Craig Pedersen, James Annett, David Broscoe, Jamie Gulliksen, Linsey Wellman, and Bennett Bedoukian, Mark Molnar is truly a master of his craft. As Mark finished last minor adjustments to the electronics beginning to flow on stage, then laid bow to string, an anticipatory hush fell over the capacity audience.

Pressed had become a cathedral.

The space around us filled with haunting ghostly keenings and cries writhing amongst palatable rhythms wheeling and swirling – like spirits loosed from purgatory. Primal throats intertwined with images of full moon bonfire dancing. Mark had entered this intimate sound-space as a spectre from the far ethereal reaches of archaic spiral galaxies born at the inception of time. Sustaining hues of resonances punctured and abraised by sharp pertinent cello notes entered and escaped as epistles from distant roaring suns to be captured willingly, momentarily and raw, between bow and string and the layered pythons of timbres and tones.

Pressed Not Normal - Mark Molnar 2016-06-02

A momentary pause to speak of experimental and ‘noise’ music – ‘noise’ not being a designation that I am comfortable with as this word does not adequately conote part of what this music is… the tangible experience and emotional response to that which the ear hears being mirrored in the body’s subtle reactions… the muscles, the nerves, the heart, the blood… without guides or guidelines, without roadmaps or instructions. There is rarely, very rarely, a cadence or a rhythm, or a ‘traditional’ structure, be it as Western or otherwise, to guide one through the music. You are a solitary traveler in an unchartered landscape to be enchanted, or to increase in anxiety, or to weep, but always to be immersed in a host of aural sensations, a music which transports one. It is non-corporeal, as otherworldly and alien, and yet, it is known deep within like the birth of a boiling star or the death of a cold black universe.

The emotions – love, mirth, the heroic, wonder, tranquility, fear, anger, sorrow, disgust – are in the audience.
(John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings)

As you may have surmised, the experience of experimental or ‘noise’ music is individual and personal. I can only relate how the fifty-two minutes of Mark Molnar‘s composition affected me. Your encounter might be different, may even lie in contrast to mine.

For me, this audile pilgrimage evoked imagery of melancholy, at times violent, at other instances, sorrowful. Throaty, raspy voices emanated from the cello simultaneously as deep sonorous resonant notes – like desolate apocalyptic souls dragging their frames across arid barren wastelands – wheeled like hunting birds above the audience. There came and went deep sadnesses – as one for a lover lost to time and history – then long shrieking cries would invade leading into furious clusters of notes and passages, silences, grating turmoils… and intonations like the hallowed cantillation of Gregorian monks.

There is music to dance by. There is music that tells us stories. Then, there is music which transports us. Experimental and ‘noise’ music, though not their intention, will transport and faintly transform us. By their mere existence, by being composed by musicians such as Mark Molnar and those you may find in Bruised Tongue and Low Noise Productions who are driven to surmount the walls of their chosen art to bring us that which has never been heard, these musical expressions will pause one to query the antediluvian theories and forms, those arbitrary rooms and fortressess, of music as we assume and have been taught… it must be.

As well, grateful acknowledgement must be given to those individuals such as Jeff Stewart, the proprietor of Pressed, willing to host an appropriate space to give a public voice to experimental and ‘noise’ music so that a wider audience may encounter their wonder, their ferocity, their sublimity, their passion… and their possible futures.

If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.
(John Cage)

The next Pressed ‘NOT NORMAL’ Experimental Music Night is June 30th.
If you would like to perform or DJ, please give us a shout at…

Mark Molnar > Black Bough Label, Soundcloud
Pierre Richardson > Bandcamp, Bruised Tongue, Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube
Jason Skilz > Website, Soundcloud, Twitter, Spins & Needles, Low Noise Productions

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