Live Review: Feldi/Forest Management @ Cincinnati Public Library

(photos by Steve Kemple)
Feldi and Forest Management
January 15 2014
Cincinnati Public Library

Wednesday marked my third visit to the Cincinnati Library for their monthly experimental music series. Each time I attend, the experience becomes increasingly surreal; the setting is just as, if not more important than the music for these shows. The performers set up on long white tables that one might associate with dented cash boxes and high school basketball ticket sales. Behind them is a glass window wall, providing the audience a view of the city and its inhabitants. I mentioned this in my last library review, but I think it's worth mentioning again that they, unknowingly, become performance artists. Like silent film stars, their gestures and expressions become comically exaggerated when detached from their words. The audience is lovably neurotic, and I feel like I fit in. Everyone is there simply because they love to consume art in all of its various forms.

I arrived midway into the soundcheck of the first act, Feldi (aka George Feldick), a self-proclaimed noise collagist from Norwood. To the untrained eye, he may have appeared to be setting up a yard sale. A toy guitar lay face-up next to a miniature blue accordion. A red shopping bag, which I later learned carried tapes, slumped over. A small television faced Feldick, broadcasting something I could not see. His music was created with a loop pedal, which was used to layer noises in the three collages he created over the course of his 15 minute set. He would first lay down a grimy foundation composed from a distorted cassette, and then proceed to cloak it in the hazy drone of his accordion, twangy guitar sound effects and a breathy whistle from a wooden recorder that he produced from his jacket pocket. It was gorgeously woozy. Behind him was a projection of a short film called Fake Fruit Factory, a pastel-toned close up look at manual labor, demonstrated through extreme close ups and the gossip between workers. The music and movie paired so well that I assumed that Feldick was sampling the audio from the clip in his set, but he assured me he wasn't. He mentioned it might have something to do with the sound intermingling with the light flowing between the projector and screen. I thought it may have also had something to do with the human brain's desperate need to make sense of foreign sensations, using any connections it can find in attempt to rationalize them.

Between sets, Ellen Atkinson gave a short presentation about a play written during the French Revolution called "The Meeting of August 10th", which she recently translated into English. The play gave insight into the propaganda and numerous festivals of the revolution, which were eerily reminiscent of those of ancient Rome. The dialogue was supposedly meant to be sung, and it was jokingly suggested that the crowd of EMATL regulars compose music for their own production of "August 10th". That doesn't sound like a bad idea. I actually think Robespierre would have appreciated such a performance! Only at the library will you catch an academic lecture between two bands, and it works surprisingly well.

The final act of the night was Forest Management, made up of one John Daniel, who traveled from Cleveland for the show. His setup was more sparse, but also a bit more organized than Feldi's. A laptop, a pedal and a portable tape deck made up his entire arsenal. His music was just as minimal as his table, but was also extremely beautiful. It reminded me of Pulse Emitter's ambient epic, "Forest Mountain Valley". Looping, textureless synths melted into each other while being dragged downward by heavy, growling bass tones. Nature sounds seeped from his tape deck, and he managed to create a wall of noise by fiddling with the cable between the deck and the speakers. In contrast to Feldi's chaotic and unpredictable performance, this one was composed with precision, and repetitive loops created a trance-inducing aura that was both sleepy and compelling. That's what made it so surprising when Daniel threw back a few orange Tic Tacs mid-set. He was so quiet and focused while performing, that it was striking to see him momentarily break his concentration just for a few pill-shaped candies. That instant was definitely the highlight of the show for me.