Sound

A Festival of Noise and Experimental Liberation

by Charles Eppley on May 13, 2014

End Tymes Pedestrian Deposit (all photographs by Charles Eppley for Hyperallergic)

Pedestrian Deposit performing at Ende Tymes festival (all photographs by Charles Eppley for Hyperallergic)

The fourth annual Ende Tymes festival summoned a deluge of harsh noise, heavy drones, and electronic improvisation upon Brooklyn this past weekend. The four-day festival of experimental music was split between the rejuvenated Silent Barn in Bushwick and Outpost Artists Resources in Ridgewood, drawing large crowds to the outer boroughs, despite the rain. Ende Tymes expanded in its fourth year in size and scope, offering a diverse lineup that attracted noise-heads and newcomers alike. Local sound authority Bob Bellerue, who also performs under the Blessed Thistle moniker, has organized Ende Tymes since its inception in 2010.

This year’s festival presented an impressive selection of artists, juxtaposing legendary figures like Hiroshi Hasegawa (of the infamous Japanese noise unit C.C.C.C.) and Phill Niblock with recent mainstays like Kevin Drumm and Bhob Rainey (Nmperign). The festival also features local figures, including MV Carbon, a recent resident at the former Clocktower Gallery, string duo Marcia Bassett and Samara Lubelski, and Crown Heights space explorers Telecult Powers.

EndeTymes - TelecultPowers02

Telecult Powers

The mixing of generations may be incidental, but Bellerue nevertheless understands the importance of the chance meetings, which set an inclusive atmosphere:

They party, they rage together, they listen to what each excels at… I think there is a huge amount of respect going both ways. The older artists are certainly well respected for their well-honed aesthetic confidence, and the younger ones are respected for their dynamic innovation and ability to spazz out. They are just people intersecting in their own cosmos.

Indeed, Ende Tymes felt less like a music festival than it did a communal gathering, in part because of its no-frills attitude and open structure, as Bellerue notes:

I book artists who make work that I love… harsh noise, heavy experimental music/video, gnarly drones, DIY electronics, rich abstract innovation, feedback feedback feedback, and extreme sonic mayhem. I don’t consider their ages or their looks or their political status. I just see people who are good at what they do, and I ask them to come play in Brooklyn amidst all these other maniacs.

The first evening provided a concise introduction to contemporary experimental music, a continuum that is exceedingly inclusive and disciplinarily ambiguous. The more sonically aggressive side of this continuum was represented in part by the psychedelic feedback of guitar-noise outfit Slasher Risk, as well as the gestural, feedback-laden power electronics of Bellerue’s own Blessed Thistle project. In contrast, the glacially-paced tonal swaths of Niblock, a veteran droner who has hosted experimental and improvised music in New York for over four decades, provided a slower, more controlled aural composition. The evening peaked with the deft electro-acoustic gestures of Scott Reber, performing under the Work/Death moniker, who managed to cover vast sonic territory without ever receding into a kitschy “everything in the kitchen sink” aesthetic.

EndeTymes - Clang Quartet

Clang Quartet

The second night opened with local brass and string duo Grasshopper, who artfully crafted a murky, dystopian wash of amplified muted trumpet and viola, invoking the siren-like glissandi of Krzysztof Penderecki. Heavy distortion was contrasted by the careful, meditative gestures of C. Lavender, a perennial student of Pauline Oliveros, founder of the Deep Listening Institute and current Whitney Biennial artist. However, meditation was disrupted by the “mutant techno” of Mincemeat or Tenspeed, and all but destroyed by harsh noise artist Jeff Carey, whose fractured, circuit-bent gesturalism was intensified by a seizure-inducing light show. Following this spectacle, the rest of the night was a bleak affair, and quickly turned toward the darker end of the noise spectrum, best embodied by the flailing, chain-swinging antics of noise outfit Pedestrian Deposit. The group knocked out the power at the beginning of their set, immediately spawning an explosive mosh-pit upon its return. The evening was capped by a slow, heavy wall of noise constructed by Kevin Drumm, performing with an unannounced guest, Chris Goudreau (of Sickness).

The festival continued in a similar vein on the third evening, mixing harsh noise with immersive, meditative drones and noise-laden ambience. Brooklyn-based Telecult Powers brought the festival to near metaphysical ruin with a warped “music of the spheres” aesthetic, performing on homemade modular synthesizers and anointing the crowd with unknown oils. If Telecult Powers summoned heavy spirits, then the onslaught of piercing feedback by Liz Gomez, performing as the power electronics act Dromez, successfully exorcised any lingering spirits. Grimness carried out through the efforts of Bastard Noise, Sickness, and Clang Quartet, but was best epitomized by the harsh noise wall of Hiroshi Hasegawa, who was undoubtedly the loudest of the festival. However, the night was pointedly driven home by Cleveland scummer, Skin Graft, who performed all of five minutes, provoking a violent fury resulting in more than a few bruises. Ende Tymes wrapped up on Sunday evening, including performances by avant-saxophonist Bhob Rainey, sound artist and composer Maria Chavez, and local feral techno guru Pete Swanson (formerly of Yellow Swans).

EndeTymes - Room3

Crowd view

The festival also hosted substantive screenings of video art in addition to experimental music, underscoring the medium’s (often overlooked) aural component: the first three days at the Silent Barn featured a corner-room with a looping display of video works, amidst screen-printed posters of past events, and the Sunday session at Outpost Artists Resources featured three hours of curated screenings.

Ende Tymes is relatively new compared to others like Unsound and No Fun Fest, but it is quickly becoming an emblem of the noise community, locally and internationally. The festival has changed in recent years – e.g., expenses and ticket prices have increased, reflecting a larger schedule – but Bellerue believes that its core DIY identity has remained intact since its beginning four years ago:

After living in Brooklyn for three years and booking smaller noise shows, I had a few people say to me kind of out of the blue, “You should book a fest,” so I took that as a sign. I emailed 12 or 15 people who I would like to invite and they universally said, “Fuck yeah,” with no conditions. It was easy to get people on board. The only guarantee that I usually give is: “We’ll give you good gas money and you will have a fucking good goddamn time.

Ende Tymes IV took place at Silent Barn (603 Bushwick Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn) and Outpost Artists Resources (1665 Norman Street, Ridgewood, Queens) May 8–11. Watch sets from Ende Tymes IV care of Tor Sten and ((unartig)) on YouTube.

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