It’s entirely possible you’ve heard the name Radical Abacus bandied about, but maybe you haven’t quite figured out what it is yet. Is it some kind of atomic counting device or a company that builds hoverboards? It was hard to know for sure, but be confused no more, Santa Fe, because I’m here to tell you it’s a concert venue in the Siler Road area, and its location may be more familiar than you think—it’s connected to metal venue The Cave. And it’s cool, I promise. Think of it as a sort of spiritual successor to former house venue/promotions outfit The Process or like a young cousin to emerging arts/music collective High Mayhem.
The recent surge in house-like venues dotted around town has been a godsend for local creativity and traveling acts that may not have name recognition but do have the goods. In fact, this particular warehouse space has been quietly on the cutting edge of the avant-garde for a couple years now, and an upcoming event that goes by the name Lyric Concrete aims to solidify (Boom. Concrete jokes!) its place as a local music venue on the rise (he said in his best 1940s newsreel voice).
"I've been interested in throwing more focused shows of work the likes of which I don't usually get to see in Santa Fe, so when Tara [Khozein] told me she was interested in this stuff, I invited her to put together a show with me," host/organizer John McKissick says of the upcoming event.
By "this stuff," McKissick refers to contemporary forms of lyricism and experimental forms of classical and vocal music. Now, this might read as inaccessible, but the most important thing to know about the event is that while it may be technically experimental, it is still musical. Just ask Khozein herself, who will appear for two sets alongside improvisational saxophonist Rhonda Taylor, found audio composer Angelo Harmsworth, composer/pianist Grisha Krivchenia and members of Theater Grottesco. For her part, Khozein will perform works composed by Krivchenia that focus on the physical manifestation of the concrete concept as themes on imprisonment, as well as pieces by Cage, Berio and Aperghis.
"Often in contemporary classical, it'll just say that it's for 'voice' or 'female voice,' and these newer compositions will focus on what they call extended techniques or mumbles and grumbles or things you could say that metal vocalists have been doing for years," Khozein says, displaying her self-described crazy eyes. "I've been trying not to use the word 'weird' to describe this music, because that just seems a little apologetic."
Khozein studied at New Mexico State University as well as with vocal programs in Germany and performance programs in France. If that's not enough to entice this fucking town, I don't know what is. And really, that's just one performer.
Harmsworth, for example, has quietly performed in Santa Fe as a student of Santa Fe University of Art and Design's contemporary music program or with killer acts like rock throwback trio Sex Headaches. He creates stunning soundscapes with electronics and loops that also focus on the lyric connections music can create. Rhonda Taylor's set is similar, but the dramatic improvisational component of her work promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience. The real pièce de résistance of the evening, however, will be Theater Grottesco's vocal representation of an entire day. It's hard to explain it beyond that, without spoiling the big surprise, but suffice it to say, it will surely be a moving experience full of beauty.
But let's get down to brass tacks here, you guys. What is the overall selling point, especially in a town where everyone hates what they don't know? The selling point is that it's important to experience some things that exist outside the norm. And while McKissick and Khozein readily admit that Lyric Concrete won't be for everyone, they've both promised a tangible emotional response to the performances.
"In the end, I'm in the business of trying to make people ravenous for new sounds, and I think the best way of going about that is in just presenting them," Khozein says. "I think the people who are interested in new theater or experimental theater or classical music they aren't used to will really find something they'll like."
Lyric Concrete with Tara Khozein,
Angelo Harmsworth, Rhonda Taylor,
Grisha Krivchenia and members of Theater Grottesco
7:30 pm Saturday, Dec. 5. No cover.
1226 Calle Del Commercio, Ste. D