When the rave scene hit the US in the ï¿½90s, ravers participated in a kind of communal bonding experience complete with its own language, rituals and transcendent quests. But raves ultimately stalled out as nothing more than elaborate parties. The most interesting element of the scene was the ancillary lifestyle associated with the music: great drugs, cool fashion, etc. The music was secondary to the experience, an afterthought to dancing until the X took hold. Still, the rave scene introduced a new way to experience music, one that combined the concert and club experiencesï¿½but without the rock stars and the encores.
By embracing technology, electronic musicï¿½through all of its guisesï¿½became the weather vane of sonic innovation. Digital and electronic equipment can expand the organic sound of traditional instruments through the use of***image1*** emulators and harmonizers, or it can dispatch with instruments all together, and thus create a limitless potential for new grooves.
That it was dubbed club music is telling, in that it remains largely compartmentalized. But in reality, bands and artists that tinker with sequencers and software to create sound also refresh live musical performances by bringing the creative process of making music onto the stage.
The former percussionist for the jam band The String Cheese Incident, Jason Hann, is talkative and an expressive thinker when it comes to music. Since the bandï¿½s demise, Hann and String Cheeseï¿½s drummer, Michael Travis, have been performing as EOTO (e-oh-toe), an improvisational electronica band that functions like a work of site-specific art; it plays entire sets without any prior rehearsal or design.
Hann and Travis allow the environment, which includes the venue and the audience, to inform the tone of the eveningï¿½s music. Each night EOTO creates and mixes compositions on the spot, erasing any division between creative conception and execution. The result is a continuous range of big-beat sound played through equal parts synthesizers and traditional instruments. On the surface, this is just another electronica band, but in reality, EOTO, much like the aforementioned rave scene, may be the herald of things to come. At the very least, it provides its own nuance on a theme.
ï¿½Thereï¿½s a whole generation thatï¿½s grown up with music thatï¿½s been produced with sequencers and drum machines,ï¿½ Hann says.
Hann and Travis use electronic music to express themselves in ways not possible with other types of music, which is surprising for two musicians known for their work in a jam band. String Cheese combined everything from bluegrass to reggae to compose its songs, which turned into sweeping improvised jams during its lives shows.
ï¿½It started out as something that Travis and I would do after String Cheese practice to entertain ourselves,ï¿½ Hann explains. ï¿½Eventually, it turned into adding gear and getting more into certain types of music...itï¿½s almost like sound sources from outer space; theyï¿½re definitely not organic. They provide their own portal for a different kind of experience.ï¿½
Generally speaking, electronic musicians, such as Hann, tend to be gearheads. From recording equipment to instrumentation, musicians have a tendency to pass their creative restlessness onto technology, which leads to innovation by stretching the possibilities of recorded and live sound. Hann and Travis decided to follow their new musical direction and create an improvised sound that could be recorded and manipulated on the spot. The technology allowed them to expand their improvisational instinctsï¿½developed through years of
playing with String Cheeseï¿½even further. According to Hann, not all String Cheese fans are thrilled by the shift to electronic music.
ï¿½Itï¿½s very similar when the electric guitar was first coming out. At first audiences were like, ï¿½What is all that noise, thatï¿½s not real music,ï¿½ and after a lot of years, you start seeing a lot more people integrating it into what they do,ï¿½ Hann says. ï¿½There was a little bit of that same attitude when Dylan started playing electric guitar.ï¿½
The rave scene was an interesting blip on the cultural radar. Like the drug-addled atmosphere of Ken Keseyï¿½s Acid Test parties, where The Grateful Dead played with abandon, the live act still belongs to the artists.
8 pm Monday, Jan. 28. $10
Santa Fe Brewing Company
35 Fire Place, 424-3333