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February 10, 2006

{     Dewanatron: Irregular Hours at Pierogi 2000     }    

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It was a calm, beautiful, unseasonably warm Saturday evening in late January 2006 when a modest crowd gathered around a thick wood beam in the center of Pierogi 2000's main space in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. The walls of the space, painted turquoise, held instruments that looked like combinations of clocks, radios, replicas of buildings, violins, and elementary school classroom speakers. Some had lights, some had guitar string connecting top to bottom, all had knobs from amps past and present housed with beautiful precision in glowingly finished casings. Wires connected them all at the bottom. A 1950's sense of futurity combined with a clinical waspyness of New England, academic origin was the enveloping aesthetic. A performance of these odd objects was scheduled this fine evening and the crowd, wondering where it would come from and what sort of sounds would result, waited while dull but poignant tones volleyed back and forth between the works.

Securing everyone's attention, one Brian Dewan explained that the objects on view were called "Wall Gins." Tonight's performance, he continued, would be unique in that they would be operating independently and in concert because they were united by shielded cable to a "Rotary Ordinator" that would give each Gin a clocklike pulse. Brian and his cousin Leon (also present though quiet) would then circulate the perimeter of the room and operate the instruments by adjusting the knobs creating a controlled randomity, the results of which would be a not wholly planned or controlled musical composition.

Brian, a round, sharply dressed man whose appearance mimicked a school teacher like executive from 1952 and Leon a more contemporarily dressed looking man wearing a green, blue and sky striped button-down with dark tie then began their work.

Ping, Ping, Bleep, Bleep, Ping, Pong. Boop, Blop, Blip... The Dewans, going from instrument to instrument around the room, adjusting the knobs like scientists or computer engineers, slowly built the "composition." A babies cry interrupted the crowd's bewilderment when it began rhythmically "ahhhing" and then making lots of noise accompanying a build up in the piece itself. The synchronous collapse of the audience performer dynamic brought a chuckle to all. The blips and pings grew more and more frequent, higher and lower in pitch, angular and sharp in mood until it felt like the sound was going to collapse into the room and crush everyone.

Leon, clipboard in hand worked the knobs with the flickering fingers of a scientific maestro, exposing some of the poetry inherent in the controlled randomity that made the performance so unique. Amidst all this knob turning and Gin toning, one wondered if the cousins Dewan knew what they were doing. The seriousness on their faces suggested it but the tongue seemed planted firmly within a prison of enamel. The piece came to a silence followed by applause.

Brian then explained that the next piece would be "Melotronic" utilizing soft cushions of sound and cricket noises. The Dewans, performing the same dance around the perimeter of the room, made the Wall Gins emit noises that were just as he described; applause the natural result. The 3rd piece was to incorporate bell ringing and the sounds of hand bells set to a mathematical pattern decided by the Rotary Ordinator. They, not knowing what that would be, would deal with the pattern improvisationally.

Bells chimed and chimed again, slowly building, though at some point the chiming coming from one corner gained speed until it was subtly maniacal. Brian, attentive to the annoyance it was creating, came to the right Gin turned some knobs causing it to slide into something less pressing. Then, as the room settled into the sounds of alarm clocks going off, the composition slowed to a finale with Leon adjusting the Ordinator. Applause again filled the room and Brian invited the crowd to "gently monkey" with the instruments making the last piece completely collaborative and utterly random. The room erupted into a cacophony louder and more chaotic that a cuckoo clock store at high noon, proving that the Dewan cousins knew what they were doing all along. Perrey and Kingsley would have been proud.


     » See Exotic Performing Electronic Music Instruments
     » Dewanatron: Irregular Hours at Pierogi 2000
     » Perrey and Kingsley

Comments

Sorry, but what is kimerikas?

Jane.

Posted by: sweeta-cx at March 27, 2008 5:56 AM

Sorry, but what is kimerikas?

Jane.

Posted by: sweeta-cx at March 27, 2008 5:57 AM

Sorry, but what is kimerikas?

Jane.

Posted by: sweeta-cx at March 27, 2008 5:57 AM
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