Concert Reviews

Some of Denver's Most Challenging Music Finds a New Audience at DU

This edition of Concrete Mixer found a rare showing and audience at Newman Center for the Performing Arts for the Convocation for the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. Past editions of this event featuring live musique concrète have been held at The Walnut Room because of the superb sound quality of that room. The Newman Center, designed for various kinds of performance, measured up as well. The audience was mostly students though the show was free and open to the general public. DU is certainly no stranger to experimental music on campus, but it is certainly rare for this sort of performance to happen at a university in general.

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The performance lasted roughly an hour, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., and included collaborations and solo performances from each of the players including Rick Reid, Mark Mosher and his daughter Lizzy, Thomas Lundy and Victoria Lundy.

Using the sounds made by tools, a saw and dry ice rubbed on the copper heart that was used in Victoria Lundy's old band Carbon Dioxide Orchestra, the event showcased a broad spectrum of the sound ideas and methods used in crafting musique concrète.

Though Mosher used his synth and other electronic devices he mainly used samples of sounds turned into what he described later as instruments created from that raw sound source material. He also took live video footage of the various performers and processed it in what he calls "video synthesis" and projected it on to the big screen behind the performance space pictured above and below.

Though relatively short for a musical performance that one might see in a club or the event's usual performances at The Walnut Room, it's a fair bet that the students weren't used to seeing this sort of thing for a convocation. The performers took questions from the audience at the end and one student asked where one might find other experimental music in Denver and Victoria Lundy candidly told him about DIY spaces like Rhinoceropolis and Deerpile and other venues like Mutiny Now and, of course, The Walnut Room. Perhaps out of this performance, a new crop of adventurous musicians will take root in Denver or at least a greater awareness of the existence of an experimental scene in Denver spread to people who might be completely ignorant of it.

Critic's Notebook

Bias: Been into decidedly avant-garde music since consciously hearing Laurie Anderson and Kate Bush for the first time in the late 80s or early 90s.

Random Detail: The Newman Center is large and I accidentally went into one theater where a solo recital was happening before tracking down the rather large hall where Concrete Mixer was going down.

By the Way: Mark Mosher, Rick Reid and Victoria Lundy are all members of The Boulder Synthesizer Meetup, a group and gathering where like-minded synthesizer enthusiasts meet up to talk and exchange ideas.

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If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.