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Wednesday, Jul 28 2010
Good sound artists don't do things halfway. Cheryl Leonard was interested in the Antarctic, so she went to the Antarctic. She collected field recordings — of penguins, seals, birds, ice, storms. She made instruments — of penguin bones, limpet shells, ice, rocks. (Here's an example of how you do such a thing: Jam two penguin bones into driftwood, amplify it with a hydrophone, pull a violin bow across it — slowly — and christen it "The Bone Slug.") Back at home, she took both her field recordings and her natural-object instruments and created compositions. All well and good: This is music that is inspired by and created from — and even sounds like — some astonishing source material (the Antarctic). Still, Leonard wasn't finished; she got a band together and started playing the work live. At a show in S.F. in April, A.L. Dentel, Cliff Neighbors, Felix Macnee, and Leonard sat hunched around the stage, which looked like the scene of a chaotic science project involving wiring and bones (which it was), and played works with titles like "Brash Ice," "Greater Than 20 Knots," and "Point 8 Ice," with live video of their manipulations projected overhead. For the finale, they played icicles, which dripped — bloop — into amplified beakers and petri dishes. Leonard performs and lectures at "Animosity in the Illuminated Forest," part of the Soundwave ((4)) Festival, which takes place in a scarily perfect setting: a gallery shimmering with the environmentally themed art.
Sat., July 31, 8 p.m., 2010

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Michael Leaverton


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