Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Spin-17: John Cage's "Aria with Variations II" Sept 23 2006

Spin-17 at the 2006 NYC John Cage festival.
On the downtown Contemporary Classical circuit...

Ed Chang: Electronics
Motoko Shimizu: Voice

     In the Fall of 2006, Spin-17 (a duo comprised of myself and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Motoko Shimizu) were invited to perform a John Cage piece as part of a Cage festival in downtown Manhattan. John Cage is, of course, the famous avant-garde composer noted for his playful use of chance and randomicity to generate unpredictable events in his compositions. Although probably most notorious for his "silent piece" ("4'33"), to me his individuality was probably best expressed by his unselfconscious and playful approach to trying new things. In contrast to the European avant-gardists, Cage always seemed to be more mischievous and "tongue-in-cheek", and less concerned with measuring up to some kind of musical legacy (such as the one established by revered giants like Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, and Schönberg). Oftentimes his music can also be characterized by a Zen-like disregard for purposeful continuity (or narrative), and is punctuated by blocks of silences (or rather, silences are punctuated by dabs of sound).

     Anyways, Motoko and I had recorded a version of Cage's "Aria" (for solo voice) on our 1999 eponymous debut CD, in that case coupling Motoko's performance with a semi-improvised 4-channel tape collage (one of my musique-concrete-based "Compos'T" pieces, as briefly described in an earlier entry). This idea was an homage to the premiere recording of "Aria" by Cathy Berberian (Time Records, 1962) which, for that record, was coupled with Cage's jump-cut tape collage piece "Fontana Mix". Since 1999 we had performed "Aria" with improvised electronics dozens of times (such as at the Knitting Factory), but for this Cage festival event I decided to actually learn and perform a "real" Cage piece instead of just improvising (Cage actually frowned upon free improvisation). Ultimately, I decided to do a rendition of Cage's contemporaneous "Variations II" piece using my homemade "Noise Machine" electronics set up. The premiere recording of "Variations II" by David Tudor was performed with the use of contact-miked piano innards (strings and coils), and so I felt that my guitar-pickup-based contact mike methodology was an appropriate analogue.   

Ed Chang during a performance of "Cartridge Music".
     The live performance went off without a hitch, and I was also fortunate enough to participate in a rendition of Cage's "Cartridge Music" with John McDonough, Paul Spencer and Kurt Gottschalk. Sadly, I never got any recordings from this gig, but I do have rehearsal recordings, which are featured below. In brief, these performances can be described as fast-changing, isolated vocal fragments (employing various "characters" and languages), in dialogue with a stream of amplified and distorted "junkyard sound effects". 

     In the playlist below, the first track is the 2nd take of "Aria & Variations II" using a "24-event version" of "Variations II" (this is the arrangement that Motoko and I ended up using at the Cage concert). Following this are "bonus tracks" featuring additional vocal and Noise Machine takes with differing levels of density (55 events being the most dense). I must have used a mixture of miking and direct signal, since I can hear police sirens in parts...(somehow I don't think Cage would have minded).


     This track below is a "meta-coupling" using two takes, in effect having 2 "Arias" and 2 "Variation IIs" going at the same time. A similar multi-tracking strategy was used on the premiere recording for Cage and David Tudor's "Cartridge Music". I kind of like this "meta-collage" mash-up version, although admittedly it's not as Cage-ian anymore.

     What follows are closer looks at Cage's compositions and the performer choices Motoko and I made in realizing them (preparing for them).

"Aria", Page 6. Each color or line style indicates a pre-assigned vocal style to be used.
© C. F. Peters Corporation
"Aria" (and "Fontana Mix")
     "Aria" is performed by a solo vocalist from a 20-page score, with each page having graphic notation describing pitch curves, timing and vocal "character". The sung text is in 5 different languages: Armenian, Russian, Italian, French and English (why no German?). During preparations, the performer chooses 10 vocal styles to use in the performance (mapped to the 10 line styles/colors). Motoko chose the below approaches for her 10 different vocal styles:
  • Dramatic
  • Sprechgesang (speak-singing)
  • Chest voice
  • Operatic (coloratura)
  • Screaming
  • Coquettish (Betty Boop)
  • Nasal
  • Whispered
  • Chant with chest vibrato (religious)
  • Inverse breathing
     There are also 16 auxiliary "noise" markings interspersed (also based on performer preference). Some of the auxiliary noises Motoko used include a stomp, a lip smack, a hand clap, a lip trill, inverse gasping, a growl, croaking, etc.

     Cage created the composition itself from measurements taken from the realization of his piece "Fontana Mix". Essentially, through the use of various arbitrarily-placed transparencies with shapes and lines on them (see sample "draw" below), measurements are made between various specified points - in effect generating "unpredictable" numbers. These numbers determine the various musical parameters for every sound in a "version". In "Aria", the "Fontana Mix" measurements were used to organize a semi-random sequence of changing language texts and vocal styles. The timing, rhythmic values and pitches of the graphic notation curves were also probably derived in the same manner. 
(Example of a "Fontana Mix" draw (result))
Variations II
     Similar in many ways to "Fontana Mix", "Variations II" also uses arbitrarily-placed transparencies with dots and lines to generate a semi-random string of numbers, which are then used to "program" musical events in a performing score. In "Variations II", the values obtained from measurements are used to assign the following parameters for each "note event":
  • Frequency (pitch)
  • Amplitude (volume)
  • Timbre (tone)
  • Duration (length)
  • Point of occurrence in an established period of time (timing)
  • Structure of an event (the number of sounds at the same time, or bunched together)
     The actual "sound-producing instrument" is left open, as well as the number of players (Cage doesn't mention how a multiple-player version works, but I assume each player creates and plays their own realization of "Variations II" and they all play independently of one another - or alternatively, I suppose they could distribute the Events of a single sequence to multiple  players based on readings from the transparencies).

     Following the instructions of the score, I did several "transparency draws", took pictures of them, and then arbitrarily assigned parameters and numbers to lines and dots. After measuring the prescribed distances, I used the obtained numbers to assign the 6 parameter values for each Event in the performance score. Since the actual number of Events and the time-scale for "Variations II" is left open in the score, I at first tried to fit 55 events into 8 minutes (the approximate length of Motoko's "Aria" version). This seemed a bit busy for a Cage piece, so I redid the score for just 24 events, allowing for a more "patient" flow. 
Transparency sheets with dots and lines were haphazardly dropped into a pile.
The distances from the dots to lines (using a perpendicular angle) was measured for each "draw".
Above are four "draws".
For each of 12 drawings, I measured 30 dot-line distances, and categorized them as Short, Medium or Long
(except for the timing parameter). These were listed in Event rows with the assigned line parameter (Frequency, Amplitude, Timbre, Duration, Timing, Structure).
At the top right of this worksheet is an early concept "infographic" to visually show the parameters for one row/Event. This was ultimately replaced by the "box" notation shown below.

The Noise Machine
The Noise Machine (circa 1999).
The "machine" itself is the guitar pickup mounted in the watch case,
and arranged around it are some of the implements used on it
(you could say that, instead of bringing the contact mike to the piano,
I brought the piano to the contact mike).

     The Noise Machine is essentially a used humbucker guitar pickup pulled out of the back of a drawer at a guitar store, and mounted in a plastic watch case. This pickup "sans-guitar" is processed with the SansAmp amplifier simulator. The Noise Machine is "played" by hitting/rubbing/scraping things on the pickup in various ways, and adjusting the control knobs and switches on the SansAmp pedal to adjust tone and volume. An "overdrive" setting on the SansAmp can deliver Merzbow-like textures, while a "clean" setting approximates a Cage "Cartridge Music"-like sound.

     In order to perform "Variations II" live, I created a visual shorthand score designed to work more intuitively with the Noise Machine (David Tudor did a similar series of "nomographs" for his performances). Below is Page 1 of the final performance score I used. Read chronologically as two columns, I tried to "portray" the knobs of my SansAmp pedal in my notation. The top left 1st event has markings indicating what each line means (t = duration, fr = pitch, dist. = distortion (timbre), vol. = volume, right hand "o"'s indicate the density of the event).
John Cage's "Variations II" as a performance score (Ed Chang).

     In retrospect, I wonder why I didn't do a guitar version of "Fontana Mix" (following Cornelius Cardew's example). The score for "Aria" specifically names "Fontana Mix" and parts from the "Concert for Piano and Orchestra" as possible accompaniments. Oh well, just being "mischievous", I guess...

The Last Variation
      In contrast to my own free-improvised performances using the Noise Machine, I found that a rendition of Cage's "Variations II" forced me to isolate distinct sounds within long silences. Typically in an improvisation, ideas organically develop as an uninterrupted sequence of sound textures, with a few impulsive jump-cuts/non-sequiturs here and there. The textures usually evolve through the gradual shifting of one or more parameters. "Variations II" was quite different in that no event was purposely related to the previous one, and silences separated each of these short sound event fragments. I suppose this description of unrelated sounds separated by long and short silences is applicable to many of Cage's pieces (including "Aria", of course). Although "Aria" was a favorite of Motoko's to perform, I have to admit I never did "Variations II" again, preferring instead to concentrate on more textural explorations than structural ones.

     It's interesting to note that David Tudor's piano-string recording (see YouTube video below) is drenched in feedback, due to the loud monitor speakers interacting with the piano strings. This "unintentional" feedback element actually provides a background "sea" upon which his isolated Events float (or submerge under). In this regard, my version is technically closer to what Cage intended in the score, but Tudor's version sounds better to me because this "accidental" feedback element gives his performance a more organic flow, based on "cause and effect" (for example, attack and feedback). Nonetheless, Cage was perfectly happy with Tudor's rendition. I don't know, there seems to be some tongue-in-cheek sentiment here, if you ask me...

More info:
"David Tudor's realization of John Cage's Variations II" (essay by James Pritchett)
"The Shapes of Indeterminacy: John Cage's Variations I and Variations II" (David P. Miller)
David Tudor's original version of "Variations II" (YouTube)
Cathy Berberian's performance of "Aria with Fontana Mix" (1958)
"Aria", Page 4.
© C. F. Peters Corporation

Monday, May 14, 2018

Case #17: Blindfold, The NYU Studio Demo Oct 21, 1993

L-R: Matthew Heyner, Rich Gross, David Nuss, Ed Chang: Rutgers University performance, Dec 1993
Structured Improv Days in The Early '90s (NYC)

Ed Chang: Electric Guitar
David Nuss: Drums
Matthew Heyner: Acoustic Bass
Samara Lubelski: Violin
Blaise Siwula: Alto Sax
Rich Gross: Alto Sax

Blindfold Workshop
     In the early 1990s I started getting heavily into the dissonant "noise rock" of Sonic Youth, as well as the turn-on-a-dime jazz blast-beats of John Zorn's Naked City. These two musical forces had a pivotal influence on my musical direction during this time, and in 1993 - shortly after moving into Manhattan's East Village where all these crazy people lived - I began playing with fellow musicians similarly interested in exploring the possibilities of "out" music. Starting from shared fringe-rock backgrounds, we eventually expanded our stylistic horizons to include free jazz, avant-garde/contemporary classical and, to some extent, "outsider" art music. Most of these formative sessions took place at the weekly "Blindfold" free improvisation workshops held at Sound OWT, an entire floor-sized rehearsal space in Chinatown, run by Downtown electro-acoustic composer/drummer David Linton.

     The initial core group of the weekly Blindfold workshop group was myself on electric guitar, Dave Nuss (Angkor Wat, No Neck Blues Band) on drums, and Matt Heyner (No Neck Blues Band, Test) on bass. Alto saxophonist Rich Gross (later in All Time Present and Fist of Kindness) also soon became a regular member of the Blindfold group. These weekly workshops initially began as loose, rock-tinged, modal power trio jams, but with the addition of reeds our sound increasingly began to embrace free-jazz/funk. As relatively new transplants to NYC, we were all learning as we went along, and each player also brought influences from outside projects and bands (it also didn't hurt that NYC had the best record shops in the world for free jazz and avant-garde music). The core Blindfold members were also sometimes joined by guest players such as alto saxophonist Blaise Siwula (later curator of the legendary, weekly "COMA" improvised music series) and violinist Samara Lubelski (Pacer, Thurston Moore band, solo projects, etc). The sessions at the Chinatown rehearsal space were based on open improvisational forms, allowing for organic additions to the sound.

NYU Session:
     Although the initial Sound OWT Chinatown sessions were generally dominated by lengthy free improvisations, it wasn't long before the regularity of our sessions gave us the opportunity to explore compositional/structural ideas. Of course, the employment of structures in an improv group isn't necessary for its success or longevity, but at least for us - at that stage - skeletal compositional ideas proved to be useful in pushing us into areas we might not have otherwise gone (at least, in my opinion). In the fall of 1993, the then-5-months-old Blindfold group got an opportunity to record in New York University's semi-professional studio facility. Engineered by John Riegart III, this quickly-produced demo resulted in a decent snapshot of the kind of early structured improvisations we were trying out at this time. In contrast to the eventually-released Picture Show CD the following year, these recordings (presented below) more accurately represented the original Blindfold as a collaborative group, since they included compositions by all of the original band members (not just myself).

Picture Shows
     Fascinated by Downtown music maverick John Zorn's cue-card-prompted "game pieces" (ex. COBRA) and their tendency towards jump-cut ensemble transitions, the pieces I came up with during this period typically involved a couple basic ideas:
  • Placing strictures on the length of a section and the instrumental arrangement (solo/duo/trio/etc).
  • Proposing a general texture or dynamic to explore (for example, "dense", "fast", "rhythmic", etc.).
     As I had become more and more fond of "non-idiomatic" free improvisation (as typified by European free improv), I generally avoided using any kind of set melodic or rhythmic figures as a thematic or structural device. Probably inspired by the graphic notation I was coming across in liner notes found in Cage, Stockhausen and Anthony Braxton records, I began to use a form of shorthand writing I dubbed "Picture Show" notation. These Picture Show notations were simply abbreviated textural or dynamic instructions, such as fast, slow, dense, sparse, rhythmic, accelerate, decrescendo, engage in a dialogue, etc. This concept of directed, "indeterminate" textures was not exactly new of course - but this notational tool sure as hell made it easier for me to blast out a lot of pieces in a short period of time without having to patiently jot down lots of dots and stems.

     The initial batch of Picture Shows were multi-sectional compositions in which one or more textural ideas were assigned to each instrument for each section. In each of these relatively brief "scenes", the players could play free, but guided by the indicated notation (unless "free" was the indicated notation). Each Picture Show would typically have 8 to 12 of these discrete ensemble sections, with some sections being reprised (employed as a kind of textural refrain). These sections followed one after by way of jump-cut transitions, hand-cued by a conductor (usually myself).

     In a sense, these Picture Show pieces were my take on Zorn's improv game pieces and Butch Morris' "conduction" works, with an important difference being that my constructs were not being spontaneously formulated during a performance (for better or worse). More importantly on a personal level however, these things helped me to explore arranging for and playing in different kinds of focused improv textures. For the NYU recording session, the Blindfold group ended up recording two Picture Shows, #2 and #5 (both in single takes).

Picture Show 5 is structured as 2 mirror images, with Parts 1-4 reflected in Parts 5-8 in a kind of structural "retrograde inversion" (backwards & upside-down). This is followed by a coda in Part 9 comprised of an ensemble trill, followed by two simultaneous "dialogue trades" (drums/guitar versus bass/sax). A second coda based on round-robin free figures was planned, but ultimately eliminated. The recorded track is mostly faithful to the score above, except that I misread my own score on Part 8. This NYU session recording and the next feature Blaise Siwula as a guest saxophonist.
  • Ed Chang: Electric Guitar
  • Blaise Siwula: Alto Sax
  • Matthew Heyner: Acoustic Bass
  • David Nuss: Drums

Picture Show 2 uses "round robin" trills/scalar runs as a textural refrain in Parts 1, 9 and 10. Modal "groove" sequences in Parts 2 and 3 (featuring violin, sax and guitar) are interrupted by three ensemble "rave-ups" in Parts 4-6, in turn followed by a solo saxophone accelerando sequence. The sax solo is answered (in reverse tempo) by a violin solo in Part 8 (supported by a free drum part). Reprises of the round robin figures are followed by an acoustic quartet coda playing "sparse" textures. The personnel is the same the previous tune, except with the addition of Samara Lubelski on violin.
  • Ed Chang: Electric Guitar
  • Blaise Siwula: Alto Sax
  • Samara Lubelski: Violin
  • Matthew Heyner: Acoustic Bass
  • David Nuss: Drums

     One piece we recorded which did not utilize Picture Show notation was "Twenty". This piece was essentially a way to feature very short, rotating solos, duos, trios and quartets in a continuous sequence, with each "round" becoming shorter and shorter in duration. The title "Twenty" came from the number of seconds allowed for each round in the initial cycle of solo-duo-trio-quartets. The second cycle of improvisations would be made up of 19-second rounds, then 18-second rounds, etc...leading to a free section at the end, once the rounds became too short to be manageable. Below is a studio version of "Twenty", but in this case starting with 12-second rounds (in order to keep the length of the piece "radio friendly", I guess). In this recording, some rounds may not be technically "full-length", since the shrinking durational value for a round was only used as a maximum limit. This recording and the next feature also Samara as a guest player.
  • Ed Chang: Electric Guitar
  • Samara Lubelski: Violin
  • Matthew Heyner: Acoustic Bass
  • David Nuss: Drums

Blindfold at Collective Unconscious, NYC
     Matt and Dave each contributed tunes exploring melody and rhythm. David's "Triplets" is based on a free-melodic triplet motif, beginning in rhythmic unison and then sustained as a shared rhythmic sequence between three instruments. A rotating fourth soloist navigates the changing groove and instrumental landscape. The sequence of soloists in this rendition is bass, drums, guitar, violin.
  • Matthew Heyner: Acoustic Bass
  • David Nuss: Drums
  • Ed Chang: Electric Guitar
  • Samara Lubelski: Violin
Let It Be
     Matt's tune, "Let It Be", is based on a more funky melodic idea, interrupted by rhythmic, accented cadences in non-metrical intervals, and leading to a looser, free atomization at the end. Alto saxophonist Rich Gross was only featured on "Let It Be" at this particular session, but his bluesier approach is a nice contrast to Blaise's more "biting" attack on the previous tracks. Rich would be featured more in later recordings.
  • Rich Gross: Alto Sax
  • Ed Chang: Electric Guitar
  • Matthew Heyner: Acoustic Bass
  • David Nuss: Drums

Vantage Point From A Quarter Century Removed
     Although this period probably contained some of my most "cringey" guitar tones (it was the '90s...) I think the tunes still have some legs on them. Considering the compressed time period in which these tracks were rehearsed and recorded, some really pleasing things resulted. With structured/prompted free improvisation, it seems to me (still) an open question as to whether pieces like these would benefit from more rehearsed shaping, or if that kind of "ossification" would deprive a performance of its spontaneity. In any case, for whatever reason, I never really used Picture Show notation to this degree again after 1995, instead generally going for much looser scenarios. Thus, this was a pretty unique period in my creative timeline.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Case #158: Ed Chang & Motoko Shimizu: "1st Encounter" Aug 10, 1997

 Ed Chang & Motoko Shimizu (Catch 22 Gallery, NYC, 1997)
"Adult Music With Children's Toys"

What is Experimental Music?
     By definition, "experimental music" is when intrepid musicians try out something new and unknown to see what would happen. In that sense, experimental music is a form of research, and if something in the result ends up as being appealing to listen to, then the experiment may be further developed into a style or "school" (through shows and recordings). The initial spark for a new experimental music piece can come in several forms: a new compositional idea (melodic/rhythmic themes), a new kind of musical instrument (textural explorations of "prepared instruments"), or even some kind of exotic musical "limitation" or rule (emphasizing silences, bowed textures only, etc...). However, one of the most exciting kinds of experiments is when contrasting musical backgrounds or approaches are pitted against each other in a duo free improv situation. Sometimes the results are interesting as a "one-off", but don't seem particularly promising for further development. However, other times these kinds of collaborations can lead to an entirely new aesthetic approach, which could be applied to any number of stylistic/structural ideas or performance settings.

     For me, the most successful of this kind of "odd-couple" musical experimentation has been my work with Motoko Shimizu in our duo project Spin-17. Starting from the latter part of 1997, we toured and recorded together on a regular basis up until about 2008 (after which I went into a form of semi-retirement). Stylistically, we ultimately explored so many musical genres and approaches that one could say that Spin-17 was for me what Naked City was to John Zorn. In other words, just as Naked City was completely unhindered (or unhinged) in its willingness to try anything in any stylistic wheelhouse, so too was Spin-17 a platform from which Motoko and I could pivot from genre to genre, mixing stylistic tropes at will. During a decade of near-constant recording and gigging, we explored a plethora of styles, including noise-punk, ambient "installation" music, "harsh" live electronics, etc. - on the way doing cover renditions of things like John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" (the whole album!) to obscure segments of Stockhausen's "Hymnen", to a 20-song medley of Kiss, Nirvana and King Crimson songs.

Spin-17: 1st Encounter
     This particular "case" is the very first improvised music session that Motoko and I ever did together. I had initially met Motoko when she was looking for a guitarist for her alternative rock band (although I don't recall if that band ever actually played out). A few months later, an open spot at a gallery gig presented itself and I asked Motoko if she might be interested in playing some free improvisation music, even though she had never played this kind of music before. It might be relevant to highlight some of the essential differences in our backgrounds, and why those differences seemed like intriguing elements for experimental music-making.

     For my part, I had at this point been well-exposed (almost jaded) to the major ideas and stylistic concepts commonly heard in free improvisation, free jazz, noise rock and avant-garde classical (ie - "contemporary classical"). In the immediate year leading up to this point, I had been concentrating more on exploring extreme examples of "noise" music - essentially the kind of textural live electronics made famous by Japanese noise-artist Merzbow (and probably reaching its "cult"-ural saturation point at the Brooklyn No Fun Fests of the mid-2000s). From a guitar standpoint, my playing style had reached what I consider in retrospect a "mature" stage (downhill ever since!), and most of the following years would be spent developing concepts and playing techniques on other instruments, in particular reeds and electronics. In other words, this period probably featured my "best guitar-playing ever". Motoko's background was very different, in that, as a vocalist and pianist, she had developed her style in the realms of "normal" jazz and classical. For example, in jazz performances she had played with bassist Ron Carter, and in classical recitals she included works by Schubert, Purcell and Schoenberg (although later she would also be involved with Bang On A Can's choral adaptation of Brian Eno's "Music For Airports").

     The differences in our musical backgrounds may already seem sufficient enough to expect interesting results from a collaborative session. However, what made this meeting doubly unpredictable was the fact that in this setting Motoko didn't sing or play piano at all, but instead was limited to "small instruments" - i.e. toy horns, whistles, plastic souvenir instruments and various kinds of percussion made from clutter ("found objects"). Since Motoko was not technically an "accomplished player" on these noise-makers, her non-disciplinary approach here could be viewed as a form of "free folk" improvisation or "outsider art" (this characterization is all in retrospect, of course). In contrast to her role as a "naive artist", I played electric guitar, an instrument on which I had been developing a refined style for the preceding 13 years. Additionally, I was at a stage where my familiarity with the guitar was reaching an "entropic" endpoint (or at least a stylistic plateau).

     Truth be told, the contrasting elements described above probably weren't such "well-framed" musical-tactical choices in my mind leading up to the session and following gig. However, heard now as a result of juxtaposed, contrasting backgrounds (noise/classical as well as stylistic entropy/nondisciplinary freedom) it's interesting in this context to trace how we navigated through these challenges during this first session. In the following decade, different pieces would "rebalance" this dynamic between us (for example when Motoko sang a straight jazz version of Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight", while I accompanied her on my homemade "Noise Machine", a form of live electronics). Also, the very fact that we were unafraid of playing (or trying to play) any kind of musical instrument we could get our hands on (and in NYC, one could get quite a lot) undoubtedly helped Spin-17 sustain such a varied output over such a long period of time.

Session Recording (and a Vintage Remix)
     Returning to the case at hand, as an historical record of experimental music, I can appreciate the ambition behind this session. However, I've probably only listened to it a couple times in the last 20 years, and that's probably because this recording is a little bit too "free-wheeling" to be enjoyed as a "composition" in itself. I suppose one could relate this kind of thing to an actor's "screen test", where evidence of a working chemistry is more important than the actual scene. Also, being aware of the more accomplished and focused pieces to come in the following decade probably puts this recording at a somewhat unfair disadvantage (although it is starting to grow on me a little, the more times I hear it...). Structurally, I think the most successful parts are when my guitar takes on the role of a background painter (using prepared guitar feedback drones or digital looping) and Motoko uses the "small instruments" to add foreground fauna and flora. One example of this texture can be heard starting from around the 12 minute mark (I also add a pretty creaky "bass line" over the loop at that point).

     From a technical standpoint, for my guitar I used a SansAmp amp distortion pedal, a Boss RV-3 Digital Reverb/Delay, a DOD DFX 94 Digital Delay/Sampler, a DigiTech PDS 8000 Echo Plus 8 Second Digital Delay / Sampler and a Digitech XP100 Whammy-Wah pedal (the XP100 pitch shifting probably over-colors the guitar tone, and as I recall it was only a short-lived period where I employed this particular effect). There was also a chorus unit in there somewhere, probably a Boss unit. No effects were used on Motoko's miked acoustic track (aside from sparingly-applied reverb from a Zoom pedal, I think). The entire session was recorded live to 2-track with no overdubs.

     You can stream the entire performance below or download it from Below the embedded player is a quickly-sketched verbal transcription.
  • Ed Chang: Electric guitar, live processing/loops
  • Motoko Shimizu: Toys, percussion, whistles, toy xylophone, toy accordion, panflute

     0:00: Percussive guitar and metal noisemaker, developed into downshifted underwater loop and upshifted drones.
     1:03: Staccato accents/scrapings and toy horns, rhythmic noisemaker with loop.
     2:01: Resonant "prepared" guitar with whistles (increased density), looped/shifted.
     2:54: Toy accordion with pickup noise accents (becoming polyrhythmic), upshifted power chord accents/toy horns (tight reverb).
     4:11: Percussion with objects, percussive textural guitar with chorus/shifting.
     4:53: High textures with triggered accents. Toy xylophone, intermittent distortion and toy percussion.
     6:02: Guitar volume swells and harmonica (misc loops).
     6:41: Isolated percussive accents/biting textures, wind sounds lead to heavier whammy.
    7:31: Feedback drones (developed with chorus) and toy horns.
    9:14: Acoustic slide over drone loop with harmonica dissonance.
    9:54: Fast scraping/scrubbing with background noise loops.
   10:31: Soft, layered guitar swell loops with sustained winds, isolated noise maker.
   11:26: Heavier textures introduce percussive guitar elements (some looped) and more creaking toys (developed).
   12:34: "Noir" bass line surfaces under ambient loop, joined by thin metal percussion.
   13:38: Various staccato percussive textures (with envelope filter) over ambient loop.
   14:18: Electric guitar shred joined by metal percussion.
   15:00: Heavy feedback drone develops, whistle, drone rises with toy horn.
   16:23: Percussive slide accents into percussion duo ("banjo").
   17:23: Sliding textures return, leading to wobbling guitar textures and tentative "owl hoots", percussive textures.
   18:49: Staccato percussive/rubbed textures.
   19:11: Heavier/resonant percussive strikes w duck calls/whistles.
   19:49: Percussive underwater guitar loop develops, resonant prepared guitar noises and metal creaks.
   21:06: Intermittent overdrive/looping/whammy pedal.
   21:31: Rhythmic whammy accents.
   22:04: Percussive impacts/loops with toy horns (developing).
   22:40: Loop becomes denser joined by duck call and auto harp melody (Middle Eastern vibe).
   23:40: Punk rock groove implied/developed.
   24:40: Less distorted percussive textures with intermittent distortion, slide harp textures.
   25:38: Triggered loops, rhythmic motif.
   26:21: Jazz chords (or "tuning"), "Spaghetti western" vibe, noise interruption.

     Considering the "historical nature" of this recording, I decided to have some "2018 fun" and filtered it so that it sounds like it was recorded in the 1920s. Crazily enough, I actually almost like this version better....