The Brink of Understanding

This new experimental music series will help you understand what all the noise is about

Sometimes when I hear -- OK, each and every time I hear the word "experimental" followed by "music," I get sad, and my mind conjures up scenarios of pretentious musicologists playing something I cannot comprehend; I promptly want to fall into a deep slumber. Unfair, yes, but true. And although an even grouchier cynic might pass up Other Minds' new music series, "Brink," missing it would be most unfortunate. Culling emerging talent from around the world, the events showcase innovative composers and musicians -- four of whom might just squelch those skeptical snarks.

Celeste Hutchins, who cites critically adored Anthony Braxton and local poet Jean Sirius as inspirations, describes her music as "text sound poetry" and takes the art of noise to a higher level. Asked what her new work will involve, she says she plans to piece together the pitifully pompous and sexually harassing voices of both Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly in a response to cable news media and President Bush's re-election -- but, she emphasizes, "not in an overly negative way." Indeed, don't confuse this well-trained artist with your average open-mike airhead who has a severe case of political diarrhea of the brain. Hutchins loops delicate, plink-y, simple sounds with gruff grunts; shove her stuff into your iPod, and her music makes for a great soundtrack to your life (for those of you brave enough to admit that you think a rolling camera is always aimed at you).

Bookending Hutchins' modern act is classically trained soprano Tokyo Nammy (aka Nami Sagara) and her band, the Eccentric Opera, who have racked up hit records in Japan, where their music is featured in several commercials. Trained at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts, Nammy's learned how to belt out more than just arias; jazz, rock, and sounds she likes to describe as "pure nuts" are her forte. One second she can pull you in with a lush high note, then she seamlessly switches to quacking and honking. With multiple genres and languages (English, Farsi, and Hebrew, to name just a few) under her belt, Nammy aptly explains her latest effort as "an exercise in vocal madness."

Nami Sagara as Tokyo Nammy  at "Brink."
Phyllis Christopher
Nami Sagara as Tokyo Nammy at "Brink."

Details

Starts Wednesday, June 29, at 9:30 p.m. (and the series continues the last Wednesday of every month)

Admission is $7

923-0923

ww w.hemlocktavern.com

Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk (at Post), S.F.

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Tarantism, a duo based in Oakland but conceived out of the mind-numbing boredom and heat of the Texas plains, will also be on hand to help launch the series. Employing homemade synthesizers, instruments, and whatever else it can use to deform sound -- and I mean that in the best possible way -- Tarantism is another good bet to help pique your interest in this forward-thinking music. And although you're sure to see many young audiophiles at "Brink," donning the blackest of their blacks while steeped in carefully crafted insouciance, feel free to ignore them. Instead, focus on the best the aural arty world has to offer: progressive, amusing tunes that satisfy the senses rather than swimming through your veins like Valium.

 
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