There have been some amazing events in the KC area so far this year, and even more lined up in the coming months, but Light + Sound was truly something unlike anything else I have been to before.
I had purchased tickets for the sold out show weeks in advance. The line up for the event was top notch, and showcased the wide array of audio in the ever growing Intelligent Sound collective. Four musicians were paired with four visual artists and each set was truly unique in it's own way.
Showcasing first was a young X.Wilson, who's razor sharp sound moved at incredible pace. I hung out with Thomas Wilson once at my studio and can tell he is a true craftsman by the way he controls the keyboard. Melodic, heavy hitting, and crystal clear, Wilson set the bar for the evening right away. The visuals from his counterpart Noah Hogan were vivid, and colorful. I would have to say I enjoyed Hogan's display the most, as his work changed in pace to match that of Wilson's tempo changing style. Quote's like "Transcend with me bb." and "Only the troubled see the truth." appeared on screen in a basic sans serif text overlay, and I remember seeing the contrasting colors of neon green and purple a lot. I didn't really know what to expect at Light + Sound but Wilson and Hogan delivered on both ends of the spectrum.
After Wilson, Intelligent Sound frontman and SP404 master Rick Maun took center stage. Sitting relaxed on a white sofa, Rick did what he does best by mashing thick, organic drums against his patented lo-fi sample heavy sounds that we've all come to love. He wore an anime inspired mask that reminded me of Okami, the Nintendo game about a magical wolf (or something like that). The familiar sounds of the Dilla race car siren were perfect throughout his hip hop based set. The visuals for this were equally amazing because they were also live. Will Funk ran a live video feed and manipulated the color, space, and texture around Maun while he bumped up and down to his music. Midway through his set, Martinez Hillard of the well respected EBONY TUSKS trio appeared from the crowd, as he shouted mostly inaudible words from a distorted megaphone. While I could only make out a few words from Hillard, the intensity and delivery was very captivating. The live factor of The Rick Maun Show was amazing, and afterwards I congratulated the intoxicated producer on his truly inspiring display.
Following intermission, Jpino, a producer I'm not too familiar with was up and his set was TRIPPY AS FUCK. Where Maun displayed lively, energetic vibes, the finely detailed work of Jpino went in the exact opposite direction. Incredible sound and structure with great use of effects, set in a dark and eerie scene, he and Zach Latas delivered the most captivating set of the night. Red triangles danced from the projector as the subtle audio filled the room. At one point I thought I was being brainwashed and a portal to another dimension was going to open up in the auditorium. Afterwards I was talking to Squibs and he said most of Jpino's set was live field recordings, and they recorded most of it under a bridge. To understand what it takes to utilize field recordings and manipulate them through stretching and delaying and pitching is truly remarkable. I will definitely pay more attention to this audio wizard moving forward.
To close the show was a crowd favorite, LION, whom I introduced to my girlfriend as Brian, also known as LION. I first heard LION at Granada, where he opened up with a live beat set for an artist who I can't remember. Afterwards his project as LIONMAKER (a collaborative effort with Barrel Maker) became one of my favorite projects the year it came out, and I still listen to it today. His sound was bass heavy, and moved quickly as he transitioned from one style to the next. As a producer, one thing I strangely noticed was his amazing selection of percussion, most notably snare drums. His evolving electronic sound was set to visuals from Branson Hundertmark, who opened up with a sci-fi inspired loading screen which I thought was very creative. The night closed out with Brian twisting and turning the knobs on what I assumed as was his MPD32, and as the last visual on screen came to a close, all the artists involved recieved a well deserved standing ovation from their audience.
Light + Sound was a huge success, and showed what can become of audio and video when brought together in a live setting. I have never been to a show like it, the energy from a hip hop show was meshed with an art exhibit style and presented in sync. It was almost like being at a rap concert, a private movie screening, and a fashion show all at once. I will probably never see another show like it, of course until Light + Sound 2 occurs, which is a must happen for the culture.
Hats off to Peter, all the musicians and artists, the Intelligent Sound family, and beyond. Thx.