I recently pointed out that certain aspects of our local scene are a tad…stale, but I made a vow I would search out the groups that diversify Santa Fe's musical landscape. So I called up Max Friedenberg to ask about High Mayhem Emerging Arts.
Friedenberg founded the evolving arts nonprofit roughly 10 years ago as an outlet for those who wanted to hear exciting, unique and challenging music. What began as Friedenberg and friends getting together to play music soon grew into open rehearsals for anyone interested, and then into a full-fledged avant-garde musical venue and art space.
"Ten years? Wow. I hadn't really thought about it," Friedenberg tells SFR. "That makes me feel sticky."
"Is that a good thing?" I ask.
"It is a good thing. We've lasted. We've stuck."
High Mayhem—much like the acts it produces, books and promotes—is itself an experimental idea come to life. "It's all on the fly," Friedenberg says. "Sometimes it works wonderfully, and other times it fails."
Granted, much of the music is not for everyone.
"With pop music, it only takes about five or 10 seconds to get it or not get it, but with our 'music,' or noise bands or experimental bands or whatever, sometimes it can take a little longer to pick it up and understand what is happening. Maybe even years," Friedenberg says.
Detractors come with the territory. Some have described High Mayhem as a "cool-kids club" or an inaccessible bunch of pretentious jerks.
"First of all, we're not a gas station," Friedenberg says. "That is to say, we're not something that everyone needs. However, we are all very accessible people. We're all evolvers, searchers, chameleons…In order to do [this] kind of thing, you have to be very good at listening."
Anything new or different can seem scary, and the "fight or flight" response is typical. But if a newbie listener works past the initial terror that comes with unfamiliar territory, he or she just might be blown away. Love it or hate it, High Mayhem is a labor of love by and for Santa Feans who want more than the same old bullshit.
Wednesday, Oct. 7 heralds Entertainment v. Infinity, an interesting show in the form of local act Al Faaet and Friends, and Frank Rosaly's Milkwork from Chicago. The most impressive performer of the night is Rosaly, who is equal parts improvisational jazz drummer and experimental weirdo. At times almost tribal, the soundscapes created by the percussionist are ones to get lost in. The sounds inspire memories of great anger and despair, but also times of pure calm and hope. It's not often that I am moved so deeply and through so many emotions by a piece of music but, as I write this, I still find myself reeling.
If I might make a suggestion, attend this show, close your eyes and see where Frank Rosaly's Milkwork takes you. I'm betting it's someplace good.
Entertainment V. Infinity
8 pm Wednesday, Oct. 7
High Mayhem Studios
2811 Siler Lane