December 14, 2020
Real-time improvisations between semi-autonomous electronic systems
with active intervention by Christopher Burns and J.Soliday.
Recorded across networks between Philadelphia and Chicago, September-October 2020
Electronic musicians J.Soliday and Christopher Burns have been playing more-or-less weekly network connected rehearsals between Chicago and Philadelphia since August 2020. That process has been a bulwark of sanity: keeping them connected to the joys of music-making, and reminding them of the social dimensions of the art-form. Through play, chat, experiment, and iteration they’ve honed an aesthetic that is rich and strange - which leads to this week’s public launch of their new project, neural goldberg.
J. performs with a modular synthesizer laden with enough feedback paths and complexity to produce unpredictably evolving sound; meanwhile, Christopher performs using custom software that spins out continuously developing variations on a theme. Call it “supervised machine improvisation,” perhaps, or “loosely coupled generative systems”: it feels like the electronics propose ideas, while the human performers listen and communicate by nudging and influencing the direction of the machines. Their opening salvo, Flash Fouls, is brimming with gritty sounds and densely layered textures — but also with double handfuls of humor, joy, and rhythmic vigor.