Dorit Chrysler / Alexander Thomas review online!

Posted: 2/19/2007 3:35:11 AM

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

I love it.
Posted: 2/19/2007 6:06:35 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Nice review!

Now I am all the more irked at not making it to Spitz. How did it go? How were the acoustics at the venue - still all mushy in the bass?
Posted: 2/19/2007 6:53:57 AM

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

To be honest I didn't feel like the Spitz was my finest hour - my tremors took over in the first few minutes of the set, in my left hand more than my right - so although my pitch stayed alright (although strayed noticeably on one or two layers) the swell and push of the notes in the first piece could be described as "jerky".

In the soundcheck I asked for the engineer to lower a lot of the low end and thin it out. I've started to think that because of the range of frequencies and in particular the tones the Theremin produces, it and large, powerful soundsystems do not agree. My best form is always on cheap PA systems or my crappy practice amp (the cheapest Fender guitar amp around that I nicked off my brother). Although big stomachy bass and clear high frequencies sound good, the resonant qualities of the sounds can really interfere with your sense of intonation, especially when layering stuff up in the way that I do. I was happy with the way it sounded during the check, the engineer (who also happens to engineer on tour with the band Tunng) was really helpful and attentive.

Getting onstage was a different matter, for two reasons - one, the room was filling up and the behaviour of sound in the space was being affected, and two, the engineer did what a lot of engineers did when this happens and turned everything up. I'm not blaming him for my problems during the set, it's a pretty standard thing to do when rooms fill up, but it did reintroduce the problems we'd eliminated during soundcheck. I found this out a little too late when the high and low frequencies began phasing and blotting out my recognition of which notes I was actually playing. Later, people said they didn't notice any pitching problems - my hope is that I was playing the notes I [i]thought[/i] I was, and that the sounds I was hearing were merely a case of what was coming through the monitors and not what everyone else could hear.

My first two tracks were untitled pieces, the first one really just to serve as an introduction to what I do. It went okay for a little while, but my nerves got the best of me and a little too much of that "frantic tapping" caused my looper to seize up (this happens if you feed the RC-50 too much information at once). That was embarrassing. Luckily it had stored the loops and I was able to finish the piece. Problem was, the same thing happened again in the second piece. Again, stored, recovered.

I think the latter half of the set may have shown my better side, as I invited my good friend Chris Cook (look up Hot Roddy and Same Actor when you have the chance), who I met doing a gig at a night called "Gluerooms" in London late last year, to join me on stage for a free improv session, myself on the Theremin, him with his extremely skilled fingers on the Sitar. We started out very sparse and haunted, with quite a few helpings of reverb. Chris gradually worked his exciting, quick-paced Sitar style into the set, and as he did so I dropped my effects one-by-one until we were both playing our instruments in their rawest form. My tremors don't allow for aerial fingering, but I've been working on my own style with comfortable hand positions and more precise wrist movements. I took some risks and tried my best to match Chris's rapid playing with my own, and was amazed when I actually stayed in tune with him.

I finished with Rachis & Barb, a half-improvised piece about birds that seems to be something of a crowd-pleaser. None of my earlier problems came into play here.

Afterwards, a number of people came up to me, all with (thankfully) good things to say. Everyone who spoke to me said the same thing - "don't worry about the technical problems, I still loved it" which was very encouraging, despite said problems leaving me feeling drained. I didn't expect this reaction from a crowd who'd come to see Simon Breed, the songwriter I was supporting - after all, our music is rather far apart on the spectrum (although
Posted: 2/19/2007 9:38:20 AM

From: Kansas City MO USA

Joined: 11/26/2006

The short version of what Alexander said is, “I feel I could have done better,
but the audience said they liked it”

i'm sure we all have thought that.
Posted: 2/19/2007 9:51:32 AM

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

Yeah, that!
Posted: 2/19/2007 11:52:29 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Congratulations Alexander!

Sounds like a great event despite the technical problems. (Which happen to everyone and the theremin seems like a lightening rod for extra helpings of them.) And this is good coverage with pictures even!

The more the theremin gets out there as an instrument the better it is for us all. Like the reviewer said: "but this sort of music should, nay, needs to become a familiar household sound and not the reserve of sci-fi soundtracks." Do you submit recordings to Spellbound? It's worth a thought.

Thanks for posting the review, I'd come across those pictures of Dorit but had no idea what the setting was.

Posted: 2/20/2007 3:37:28 AM

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

The gig in the review and the Spitz gig are too different events - I was really happy about the way the reviewed one went, I was on a total high for about a week after that.

Music is scary. My biggest fear is different today: I'm afraid of hum. I recording something yesterday and there's hum and hiss all over it. C*cks.
Posted: 2/20/2007 7:00:23 AM

From: Leicester, UK

Joined: 9/23/2005

I am very familiar with the situation you describe about problems theremining thru big standard PAs. NEven with quite good monitoring, suddendly the sound seems to be coming from "over there" rather than nearby. Still audible, perhaps too loud, but not "right here" - which makes precise fingering a bit like walking on ice. PLus one gets the note to one's ears "later", it seems.

I'm beginning to think taking my friendly gigging amp (SR Jam 150) I usually use for cafe jazz piano/vox gigs, is always going to have to eb with me on guigs even when PA is suplied. It is mono tho so for the stereo fx and stuff maybe a little mini PA is required or a mini desk - mono monitor feed to your amp, then stereo out to the PA - yes that's the cheap solution.

I did a gig a few weeks ago (and I;m there tomorrow) where the PA is arranged with speakers all around the bar, but none near the stage. Which meant etiehr playing very safe or very crazy/atonal.

Fair play to you for getting out there and doing it live with theremin & new looper and no safety net. No live experience is without it's lessons.
Posted: 2/20/2007 8:40:35 AM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

Is it generally easier to get reviews in Europe than it is here in the United States?

Getting any mention in the press here is an exceptional event which most players of any type never enjoy and some will employ extreme efforts to get their names in print.

I get the impression that outside of this country it's rather common place and not unusual for beginners to get exposure early on while experienced performers get regularly tracked through out their career.

True or just my feelings of "the grass is greener..."?

thanks gang.
Posted: 2/20/2007 9:36:11 AM

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

It depends on what your music scene is like - the Bristol scene, from promoters to performers to journalists, is largely "DIY" and as such there is usually someone on the case at most gigs. Skipthebudgie is Dave Ashby, he's just one man who loves going to gigs so he reviews 'em. In my various guises and bands I've been reviewed by Drowned In Sound, Venue magazine (Bristol & Bath ents mag), Decode (Bristol & Bath ents mag), Choke (Bristol underground music mag) and Skip there. I'd say that in two years of performing, I've had between 8 and 10 reviews, not all of them exactly glowing.

That's Bristol - there's a lot of "ground troops" as it were, a lot of people who're just eager to write about things or organise things, it changes from town to town I guess.

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