“Part of Bob Moog’s legacy—and the loose theme of the festival—is this kind of headlong rush into the future, computers blazing, all the while generating something that sounds like the dawning excitement of a new thing approaching. Asheville; the festival itself; the instruments; the bands assembled here; the raucous, wonderful crowds—all magnets for cultural craziness and explosions of imagination that culminate in the spirit voiced by Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne: “It’s about being a weirdo and going for it!”
–Filter, “RECAP Moogfest 2011”
The second annual Moogfest was held Halloween weekend in Asheville, North Carolina. Stream full sets by Atlas Sound, Moby, Tangerine Dream, CANT and others, via NPR. Hear the official Moogfest 2011 podcast series – featuring St. Vincent, The Antlers, Atlas Sound, Tangerine Dream, Neon Indian, Dan Deacon, Beak, Moby, M83, STS9 and more – at iTunes.
The festival kicked-off on Friday, October 28th with sets by Tobacco, Beak, Atlas Sound, The Antlers, Flying Lotus, Moby, TV On the Radio, Tangerine Dream and others. Filter reported “Zombies are especially popular this year, along with vintage neon wigs and a peculiar species of remote-controlled inflatable fish. If the ghouls have anything to say about it, Bradford’s new Parallax LP looks to be off to a good start.”
Randall Brown at blogs.knoxnews.com: “legendary prog-rock act Tangerine Dream… made a gigantic, gorgeous sound, supplementing their space-orchestra synths with booming guitar and percussion”…”First instance so far of “I dig it more than I thought I would.” “
Filter: “One of the great things about going to Moogfest has been the opportunity to rub elbows with many of electronic music’s pioneers and heroes. So when Steven Drozd—breaking up the middle of a remarkable Flaming Lips set—orders you to “go see Suicide!” it is probably wise to oblige. Back at the Orange Peel, the electro protopunk bludgeoning offered up by the late ’70s stalwarts does not disappoint. Storms of industrial synthesizer drone and squall loudly over drum-machine blitzkriegs, while vocalist Alan Vega adds his idiosyncratic spoken-word flair to the mayhem. The experience is notched up to eleven upon turning around to assess the intense glory of the crowd, only to discover that Steven Drozd is standing right behind you in glowing reverie. Sweet. Only at Moogfest.”
Headlined by The Flaming Lips, Saturday sets were highlighted by electronic music pioneers (Suicide, Terry Riley with son Gyan, Adrian Belew – with his “Power Trio”) and like-minded youngins (i.e. St Vincent, CANT, Twin Shadow, Battles and Dan Deacon). Most anticipated however were two happenings presented by Brian Eno: 77 Million Paintings and “Illustrated Talk.”
Eno’s 77 Million Paintings combined video and sound into “a constantly evolving sound and image scape.” Designed to lure “the viewer to slow down and enter a contemplative state, reflecting on the uniqueness of a passing moment that has almost certainly never existed before,” it ran the entire weekend at Moogfest (previously at Venice Biennale, the Milan Triennale, and the Sydney Opera House).
According to NPR, Eno was the essentially “Mayor of Moogfest” – “Like Moog, he’s an innovator of electronic music, one whose experimental work is still fervently appreciated, but he’s also got had feet in the world of pop music for four decades…[Eno’s face was] plastered on festival posters around town, his sound and image installation artwork, “77 Million Paintings”… on display since before the festival began…”
Randall Brown at blogs.knoxnews.com agreed “the big draw on Saturday afternoon was…”Illustrated Talk”… Brian Eno… shared his philosophy of applying creativity to all aspects of life, and enlightened the audience to the cultural significance of haircuts (good or bad)… “Culture is everything we don’t have to do.””
NPR described “Illustrated Talk” as “unexpectedly funny, full of such tiny asides that referred back to his career as a musician, artist and thinker… He named works by Terry Riley…and Steve Reich as the inspiration for most of the work in his career, and displayed his own graphic illustrations of these pieces. He spoke about his preference for spending time with scientists over artists and his opinion that more good music is being made today than at any time in the past. But the centerpiece of Eno’s talk was about the need for balance — in art and in life — between two poles: control and surrender. Commonly, he said, we consider the relationships between musicians and listeners to embody those two poles. Composing or performing music is an act of will; listening is the act of giving in to someone else’s will. But the music that inspired Eno, like Riley’s In C or Reich’s “It’s Gonna Rain,” as well as some of his own most famous ambient pieces, like Music for Airports, incorporate an element of randomness. That randomness requires that the composer gives up some of his control over the work. When that randomness makes the music difficult to follow, “your brain fills in the gaps.”
On Halloween (the day after Moogfest) The Flaming Lips released a 24 hour song – a piece that trails the pioneering work of Brian Eno in both concept and composition. Is a Flaming Lips collab with Eno in the future? Perhaps….
Wayne Coyne to Pitchfork “We run into people everywhere. We’re possibly going to run into Brian Eno over the weekend at the Moogfest, so you never know. He might say, “Sure, I’ve got some shit laying around.”
Moogfest also hosted a Halloween costume contest and a series of panels, among them: Convergence – Hardware and Software Integration in the 21st Century (with Tara Busch, Eric Persing – the moderator for most of these panels, and others), Dan Deacon and Tara Busch’s Moogerfooger Mayhem, Journey to the Center of the Theremin with Neon Indian, Dorit Chrysler & Albert Glinsky and Sound Design (with Moby, Dan Deacon, and others).