Robert van Heumen Composer Improvisor Laptop-Instrumentalist Sound-Designer
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High Zero

The High Zero festival was a lot of fun. The concept is: you take 10 local improvisors, and invite another 10 from abroad (a lot of Americans though), put them together in combinations never heard before (yes, the old Kraakgeluiden concept), and wait and see and hear. Because of the big local base, the atmosphere is very friendly, 'instant family'. Everyone is put up at some local performer's house, and there are 5 evenings of 4 sessions each, and additional there are these Hijinx's, events during the day where sound is produced in public space. Somethimes very funny.

As for the evening concerts, I must say that not all sessions were musically great. Quite a lot were amusing, because of the awkwardness of the musicians, or because of the theatricality of it. Some performances that stood out:

Dan Blacksberg: trombone
Carson Garhart: inventions, electronics
Michael Muniak: electronics
This was my first introduction to Mike, who performed feedback with various pedals in a very instrumental way, capable of making split second decisions.

Robert van Heumen: electronics
Bill Nace: guitar
Ric Royer: voice, tapes
I don't think this one stood out musically, but the combination made for some weird action. Ric did not make any sound, but held up signs for the audience to make sound. I would sample that, and throw that back at them. Funny, but not very musical. Then there were some moments of heavy distorted interaction between me and Bill, that I enjoyed a lot.

Arrington de Dionyso: voice, bass clarinet
This was an amazing solo. The best musician of the festival. Working with resonance, throatsinging, great bassclarinet playing. Check this guy out. Also a sweet human being.

Tetuzi Akiyama: acoustic guitar
Susan Alcorn: pedal steel guitar
Tony Buck: drums
Paul Neidhardt: percussion, friction
A very quite, beautiful open quartet. Tony Buck was the star, but also Paul is a great and sensitive musician.

Arrington de Dionyso: voice, bass clarinet
Carson Garhart: inventions, electronics
Janel Leppin: cello, electronics, autoharp
Arrington again. With Carson, who makes very melancholic, melodic music with various guitar-like instruments, and Janel Leppin, who was struggeling in other sets with all her electronics, but here played some beautiful cello.

Aside from the music, we were fed every night, there was a dance party on Saturday night (very funny to see all these 'non pulsed' musicians dance their ass off) and a barbeque with crap (uh, crab) on Sunday afternoon. Great festival, great people. Recommended!

I also performed with ABATTOIR (my duo with Audrey Chen) at the H&H building, and held a lecture at Peabody conservatory. O, and then there was a recording session on Friday afternoon with Liz Albee, Arrington de Dionyso, Mike Muniak and myself. That was great, finally some duo work, and I was very glad for this opportunity to play with these great players.