SyndaKit – Spectrum – Manhattan – July 16

SyndaKit takes on a strong psychoacoustical component when performed by homogeneous ensembles and this night featured two such groups: all-acoustic strings at 7pm and all-electric guitars at 9pm. The 7pm lineup included John Pickford Richards & Chris Otto of JACK; Fung Chern Hwei; Judith Insell; Rachel Golub; James Ilgenfritz; Jeanann Dara; Kevin Ray; and Reuben Radding. There were a couple of last-minute cancellations so with myself on viola, a total of ten musicians played the set. With the instruments using open strings tuned to the target pitches of C, A, Ab, and G, the music was rich in overtones and drones of ambiguous tonality enlivened by non-pitched material and pure noise as well as short improvised pop-outs. Essentially a large living room, Spectrum’s space has a wood floor and plaster walls and ceiling making it just “live” enough to give the sound some juice yet maintain clarity. Wonderful interactions between these great players made for an exciting and satisfying set with tamboura-like drones transforming into ethereal overtones or jagged clangor. The set ended with clouds of granulated percussive knocking, beautiful and surprising. The guitarists assembled at 8:15 for set-up and a quick talk-through for those who had not played it before. While one could say that the 7pm string players fully populated the compact stage area, the 9pm guitarists made up a packed and bristling mob of the best kind. There was a wide variety of hardware in use making for an orchestral range and density of sound. I brought the Rick Turner electroacoustic baritone guitar, perfect for inhabiting the lower mid-range with overtones reaching the upper realms. It took a few minutes before the guitarists settled into some grooves and unisons but once everyone got it, they maintained it throughout the performance. Textures ranged from incredible delicacy to mega-brutal pounding skronk. The third iteration during this set entered into urban gamelan territory with the entire ensemble sound subsumed into one pulsing ringing grooving mass. Possibly the best yet of all of the all-guitar SyndaKit’s! Would be great to perform this in a larger room, whether here in NYC or elsewhere…



About Cristian Amigo

NYC blues-jazz guitarist/composer/producer/educator/visual artist/papa. Composer-In-Residence @ INTAR Latino Theatre (NYC).
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