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New documentary highlights NYC recording space BC studio, making its Philly debut at PhilaMOCA

Martin Bisi | photo via www.facebook.com/soundandchaos
Martin Bisi | photo via www.facebook.com/soundandchaos

Back in the early ‘80s in New York, the early hip-hop scene was evolving in the Bronx while no wave and experimental jazz groups were making noise in the East Village. But the only place where those two disparate worlds met was in the labyrinthine basement of an old factory building along the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. For more than thirty years, this space has been the home of BC Studio, where producer Martin Bisi has charted the evolution of NYC’s underground music scene(s), recording such disparate artists as Sonic Youth, Afrika Bambaataa, Swans, Cop Shoot Cop, Herbie Hancock, John Zorn, and Helmet.

The space is the subject of a new documentary, Sound and Chaos: The Story of BC Studio, which will have its Philadelphia premiere on Monday at PhilaMOCA. The screening will be followed by a Q&A and liver performance by Bisi.

Bisi co-founded the studio with bassist/producer Bill Laswell in 1980 as a home for Laswell’s amorphous band/project/production team Material, with funds contributed by Brian Eno. It has since become a destination for artists of a more experimental bent and can be found in the credits for albums that would seem to have nothing else in common other than Bisi’s presence – Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit,” Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising and Evol, Naked City’s Torture Garden, and most of Swans’ best work.

“I don’t turn down any opportunity to talk about what I do or what I have done,” says Bisi about agreeing to the documentary. “A lot of musicians have an entrenched taboo about self-promotion. Fame is sort of a bad word for artists, but unless I’m a little more famous than I was three weeks ago, then I’m not having a career.”

Directors Sara Leavitt and Ryan C. Douglass were working on short internet videos and in the market for a longer project when they met Bisi through a mutual friend. “When we heard about all the stuff that had happened at his studio and all the albums that had been recorded there, it seemed like a good story,” Leavitt explains.

Many of the artists who have recorded in the studio over the years are interviewed for the film, including Laswell and members of Sonic Youth, Dresden Dolls, Swans, and Foetus. But more than the history of a single studio, Bisi insists, “This is a story about New York City. I feel very passionate about New York City and believe that it has an amazing chemistry for a lot of complex reasons. I’ve been saying for a decade and a half that it takes more to break New York City than closing down a punk rock bar on Bowery.” Continue reading →

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PhilaMOCA to host premieres of new music documentaries featuring Hüsker Dü and BC Studio

On set of Every Everything | photo by Agatha Donkar
On set of Every Everything | photo by Agatha Donkar

Next month PhilaMOCA will host two new music documentary premieres, Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart and Sound and Chaos: The Story of BC Studio.

Every Everything, which will be shown on Friday, July 18th, is a completely unfiltered look into the life of Grant Hart, former member of Hüsker Dü.  It focuses on the artistic competition he has with his former bandmate, and that final moment when he earns some fame.  The film provides great insight into rock & roll and life within the music industry.  After the screening there will be cover sets by Mumblr and Hart Attack (members of Howling Fantods, Sound of Failure, Halo of Snakes).  Doors open at 7:30 and the show begins at 8.  Tickets can be found here.

Sound and Chaos, which will be shown on Monday, July 21st, tells the history behind Martin Bisi’s Brooklyn-based recording studio.  Bisi is well-known for recording Herbie Hancock’s hit “Rockit” in the studio, which became popular as the first mainstream DJ song to use the “scratching” technique.  Later, the film explains how the iconic studio may now be in trouble due to rising costs of rent.  The documentary includes interview with Michael Gira of Swans, Bill Laswell of Material, Grand Mixer JXT and several others.  Bisi will be attendance for a live post-screening Q&A as well as a live performance.  Doors open at 7:30 and the show begins at 8.  Tickets can be found here.

 

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Check out PhilaMOCA’s experimental new score to Faust

 

via philamoca.org
via philamoca.org

PhilaMOCA will screen FW Murnau’s Fuast. First released in 1926, the two hour film is German film-maker Murnau’s imagining of Goethe’s classic play. Over the years, the soundtrack of Faust has inspired many artists. In 1995, American composer Timothy released an original score for Faust for Kino Video. In 2002, Gorrilaz released a short, entrancing version of Faust.

The most recent rendering of the soundtrack happens later this month when PhilaMOCA hosts a new score for Faust. The score will feature everything from pop songs to mid-century avant-garde experimental music. Throughout the film, the score will alternatively accompany, oppose and contrast the film’s visual, exploring the role of music in the interpretation of film. The screening offers audiences a fresh look at an old classic.

Watch and listen to the original Faust below. Get more information on the screening on June 26th here.

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Guest curator Yoni Kroll of WKDU previews this month’s Tuesday Tune-Outs series (begins tonight at PhilaMOCA)

Teenage Bigfoot |
Teenage Bigfoot |

It’s the first Tuesday in May and that means there’s a brand new line-up of eclectic Tuesday Tune-Outs to prepare for.  PhilaMOCA asked WKDU’s Yoni Kroll to curate the weekly showcase this month, and The Key has his preview of four especially original events.

From Yoni:
Booking a music and movie night is a bit different than just finding a band to play a show. You have to consider what the band sounds like, sure, but you also have to figure out if they have good taste in movies. Because when it comes down to it, nobody wants to have to sit through Dirty Dancing 2 just because Erik from Mischief Brew thinks it’s a lost classic. Note to Erik: don’t you dare.

Putting this together I drew on both my knowledge as local music director at WKDU Philadelphia 91.7 FM and the fact that I go to way too many shows and I hate being bored. Two bands and one movie is a very specific lineup and you need to tread carefully to make sure everything and everyone is on equal footing. To that end, I chose bands and musicians that would be fun as well as interesting, especially together. I hope you agree.

I bring you May’s Tuesday Tune-Out series:

May 6
SGNLS and Dangerbird Jr. 

SGNLS rose out of the ashes of Lesser Known Neutrinos, a West Philadelphia band of yesteryear that had more in common musically and politically with experimental punk groups like Crass and The Ex than anything else. What SGNLS has managed to do in the scant few years they’ve been around is harness the raw, creative energy that was always present in their previous bands and transform it into something new and exciting. The lineup, with Tony on keyboards, Paul on guitar, Kellzo on drums, and new addition Alexi (from Stinking Lizaveta) playing bass, is a talented and extremely creative juggernaut. That’s exhibited in both the music and the shows the band plays: SGNLS can open up for a thrash metal band or headline a political punk show or perform in front of a couple hundred exuberant skaters, as they did at Philly Punx Picnic a couple years ago. It works because it’s good, because it’s different, and because ultimately it’s very fun. Their new album will be out on FDH in a few months.

You like Neil Young? You like distortion? How do the words ‘heavy’ and ‘slow’ grab you? If you said yes to any of this, you’ll love Dangerbird. First show in a while! Members of Hulk Smash, Serpent Throne, Faking, and a ton of other bands going back forever.

Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Against Me! at The Trocadero, Oneohtrix Point Never at Boot and Saddle, and Dangerbird / SGNLS @ PhilaMOCA

Against Me! | Photo by Debi Del Grande | via facebook.com/AgainstMe
Against Me! | Photo by Debi Del Grande | via facebook.com/AgainstMe

Punk rockers Against Me! will take to the Trocadero stage tonight in support of their latest album Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Frontwoman Laura Jane Grace will soon star in her own reality series for AOL which follows the singer’s journey through personal and professional struggles that have influenced the new record. Watch them perform “Fuckmylife666″ on Letterman below and get tickets here.

Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Shining Backwards and Forwards w/ live score by Psychic Teens, Tim Motzer and Bart Miltenberger Duo at Boot and Saddle

Photo by John Berry via facebook.com/psychicteensnetwork
Photo by John Berry via facebook.com/psychicteensnetwork

Just when you thought The Shining couldn’t get anymore classically creepy, it does. Tonight at PhilaMOCA as part of the Cinedelphia Film Festival, the 1980 horror classic will be projected forwards and backwards simultaneously on one screen creating an even more chilling experience for the audience. This idea originally comes from John Fell Ryan’s work with Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theater and later from a 2012 documentary Room 237. To top things off, Philly goth punks Psychic Teens will perform a live score to accompany the film. Watch their video for “LESS” below and get tickets here.

Continue reading →

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The ever-evolving Kite Party will celebrate their new record on May 8 at PhilaMOCA

Kite Party | courtesy of the artist
Kite Party | courtesy of the artist

On May 6, Kite Party will unveil their second full-length album, Come on Wondering. On May 8, they’ll celebrate with a record release show at PhilaMOCA.

The twinkly Philly punkers have waited three years to follow up their popular album, Baseball Season, which features staples like “Arizona” and “Spirit Gum.” However, the band’s fans have been treated to small previews of the upcoming album and it sounds unexpected in the best possible way. Both “Halflife” and “Summery Dream” have a light, atmospheric sound that’s heavy on the psychedelic vibes, less so on the loud guitars and raspy vocals.

Surely, they’ll performance will be a bit different, too, but we’re looking forward to it. Celebrating alongside Kite Party at their record release show will be punkers and/or indie rockers Three Man Cannon, Gunk, Thin Lips and The spirit of the beehive. The all-ages show starts at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $7.

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Cinedelphia Film Fest brings local film premieres, variety shows and live scores to PhilaMOCA in April

cinedelphia_Poster_web-668x1024

PhilaMOCA‘s second annual Cinedelphia Film Festival begins this week, bringing a full month of “archival oddities, Philly premieres, and locally-shot rarities” to the Mausoleum.  Programmed by Video Pirates, the multi-media event kicks off tomorrow, April 1st, with a free preview night hosted by the curators to give a “guided multimedia tour through the CFF program guide.”  In addition to the eclectic film screening schedule, there will be several music-related events during the festival from live scores to variety shows and music documentaries.

April’s Tuesday Tune-Outs begin with electronic artist Ryan M Todd, aka Tom Guycot, performing a live score during Son of the White Mare on the 8th.  The 15th showcases Baltimore comedy troupe and recent Adult Swim performers Wham City Comedy, a quartet of comedians that perform skits, monologues and stand-up.  Fans of conspiracy and horror will enjoy a special screening of The Shining on the 22nd, played backwards and forwards simultaneously while Psychic Teens contribute a live score.  And the festival comes to a close on the 29th with George Lucas’ feature-length debut THX 1138 accompanied by an original live score by Conveyor.   

Friday, April 18th brings the monthly Mausoleum Party back to the space with a “Mondo” edition featuring Chicago singer Jan Terri, experimental outsider musician Mary Ocher and local weirdo-psych three piece Dead, who just released a debut full-length Ralph. Continue reading →

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After reading this, you’ll find yourself humming Roof Doctor’s newest album (released today!)

Roof Doctor | photo by Abi Reimold
Roof Doctor | photo by Abi Reimold

Punk Philly band Roof Doctor released their newest album in a way that’s as sweet as the album itself.

This morning, a link to Mobile Freedom Home was accompanied by one line: “Hey guys, here is our album. We love you. We hope you like it. <3”

The band’s fans have been anticipating the release for quite some time. Since November of 2012, in fact, and the album’s intimate sound and intricate instrumentation reflect their hard work laboring in at Fishtown’s Headroom Studio.

Mobile Freedom Home is the kind of album that you listen to once through and can’t quite distinguish track by track (except for “Bottle It Up,” man, give that one a listen), but instead familiarize yourself with the sound, finding yourself humming the tune as you mosey through your apartment. Then, you find yourself wondering, “What the hell is that song called?” only to return back the 10-track album hunting through the tracks discovering additional treasures off of the album. That’s how Roof Doctor gets you.

But upon second and third listen, you’ll start to notice the small jangly, irresistable details that accompany each track’s unmistakable vocals.

Join the band and their fellow punk and/or experimental friends Son Step, Mumblr and Soda Bomb as they celebrate the release of Mobile Freedom Home on Saturday at 8 p.m. at PhilaMOCA. Oh, and of course, take a listen to the album itself below.

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Roof Doctor set to release sophomore album Mobile Freedom Home at PhilaMOCA

Roof Doctor | photo by Abi Reimold
Roof Doctor | photo by Abi Reimold

The “emo” genre can sometimes have a skewed connotation – often dubbed whiney, or flat out depressing – but local emo/rock band Roof Doctor have managed to completely redefine the term. Roof Doctor will be celebrating the release of their sophomore album, Mobile Freedom Home, at PhilaMOCA March 29th with Son Step, Mumblr and Soda Bomb. The album was recorded at Philly’s own Headroom Studios in Fishtown with Kyle Pulley.

The heartfelt and, yes, emotional lyricism of Mark Harper manages to weave beautifully with the band’s unbelievably catchy guitar riffs and intermittent sax-stylings of multi-instrumentalist Chet Williams. Roof Doctor have been compared to other emo-oriented bands like Built to Spill, but at Harper’s vocal height he comes eerily close to Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum – and it’s awesome. The sole single released from the album, titled “Dad”, takes the emo/punk route, and we can’t wait to hear what the album has to offer as a whole.

Get more info on Roof Doctor’s PhilaMOCA (Philadelphia Museum of Contemporary Art) album release show on the Facebook event page here. Stream and download “Dad” from Mobile Freedom Home below.

 

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