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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Turn up that noise: A night of metal, electronic improv

July 30, 2007|Greg Burk | Special to The Times

Conceptual art is often all conception and no fruition. Not so with Saturday's "Noisy Night" of music at Hollywood's Steve Allen Theater: It was a kick.

The idea, which co-curator and announcer Jeremy Drake hatched for the "Sound" series presented by the, uh, Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound, was to toss five noisy electronic artists together with three heavy-metal grinders. They would improvise in multiple configurations.

Two players especially helped the mass to congeal. Gabe Serbian's regular outfit, the San Diego modern-metal quartet the Locust, is no stranger to bridging art and noise; his demon-beating drums often located a rhythmic vortex around which the electronic winds could whirl. And David Scott Stone, who has brought his mutational talents to groups such as the Melvins and Fantômas, lent theatricality by flogging his synth with a patch cord, whipping his hair (to which he had attached a contact microphone) and shaking a sheet of bright aluminum.

Although odds were slight that the chemistry would always gel, the success rate skewed high, notably when the volume swelled loudest. A few attendees fled or clutched their ears, but most got involved with the uncharted colors and mysterious sub-rhythms that group improv can conjure.

Far from shredding, bassist Troy Oftedal (of San Diego's Cattle Decapitation) confined himself to a droning, foundational role. On a wide variety of electronic processors, Bob Bellerue, Bobb Bruno, Shannon Walter, David Kendall and Jessica Rylan lavished a full spectrum of chirps, glitches, whirs, loops, hisses and feedback.

"Noisy Night" will inspire no lawsuits for false advertising.

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