Theremin reappears in experimental band Wednesday at Outpost 186
Cambridge, and specifically Rob Chalfen’s gallery and live music venue Outpost 186, continues to be a home for experimental and challenging music. Wednesday brings a quartet of percussion, trumpet, synthesizer and theremin — probably the first appearance of a theremin here since 28 Degrees Taurus played T.T. the Bear’s Place nearly two months ago. (A video of that performance is here or at the bottom of this post.)
Chalfen runs down the Wednesday show, making a strong claim for the gold in any contest of encyclopedic knowledge of esoteric music, as follows:
Seijiro Murayama formed A.N.P. with KK Null in 1984, creating an in-the-red mixture of free jazz, heavy rock and industrial noise. He was also a member of Keiji Haino’s Fushitsusha, appearing on that group’s (first) self-titled double album on P.S.F. in 1989. Recent years have seen him deeply involved in experimental improvised music, including recordings with Lionel Marchetti, Michael Northam, Jean-Luc Guionnet and Eric La Casa and performances with Axel Doerner, Toshiya Tsunoda and Mattin among others. Tonight he will be performing with James Coleman and Greg Kelley of the BSC and the undr quartet.
The theremin, for those who haven’t kept up as well as Chalfen, was invented in 1919 in Russia and is still unique: It’s the only musical instrument that is played without being touched. Instead the devices are electronic and controlled by hand gestures near two oscillating antennae — one for pitch, one for volume. They’re reputed to be difficult to control and demanding of great concentration. And, while the physicist who invented them saw theremins as just another instrument for great classical music, their spooky sound has more or less relegated them in the United States to the realm of cheesy space films.
Or spaces such as Outpost 186, the art gallery where you can still catch the future of music that never fully arrived.
Percussionist Murayama, trumpeter Kelley, theremin player Coleman and Keith Fullerton Whitman, the synthesizer player, begin at 8 p.m. for a ticket price of $10 or best offer. Outpost 186 is at 186½ Hampshire St., Cambridge. For information, call (617) 876-0860 or click here.
Here’s 28 Degrees Taurus with theremin player Kris Thompson, playing Jan. 27 at T.T. the Bear’s Place: