[posted by Tim DuRoche]
Amid the thumpa-thumpa, chugga-chugga, and hubba-hubba of last night’s Dada Ball (in a bright-white corner of the Works compound) art happened. Call it what you will: Lo-Fi, DIY, ready-made, party-crashing—The Portland Bike Ensemble and Slomo’s kamikaze action-event in the Ripe space was a riveting display of disarming visual and sonic poetry.
The improviser-cyclists of the Bike Ensemble are suitcase inconoclasts who produce sonic wizardry with limited resources—upside-down bicycles, contact microphones, violin bows, small amps, metal rods, assorted stomp-boxes and simple electronics—essentially anything you can carry to the gig on your bike. With spokes spinning, the effect creates aural roto-reliefs that are mesmerizing. Overtones, pulses, and metallic thrum coalesce, creating a fantastic fulfillment of John Cage’s prophecy: “the use of noise to make music will continue and increase until we reach a music produced through the aid of electrical instruments. This will make available for musical purposes any and all sounds that can be heard.” Adding to the juxtaportational experience the white-clad Slomo (a butoh-inspired performance collective that includes such speedy-as-molasses dancers as Kestral Gates—who made the architectural hooped costumes, Lam, Kathleen Keogh, Lily Chamberlain, Karla Betts, among others) infiltrated the space with a burrowing insistence that was beautiful to watch.
The most sublime irony was that this pristine “noise” provided a personal fall-out shelter (a la the Fluxerrific, neo-dadaist Japanese performance group Hi Red Center) from the real noise and ungainly din.