High Zero 2010
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Julie Benoit
sound installation

Julie Benoit is an artist that is interested in bringing attention to the overlooked incidental moments that make up the everyday. She is interested in the subtleties that are constantly happening, that are so banal that one tends to not even notice them. Benoit is interested in focusing attention on that moment where the clouds pass overhead, the way their movement just barely darkens the leaves on a tree, and then seconds later the leaves are bright again because the cloud has passed. She is interested in the blade of grass that grows through a crack in the sidewalk, that barely moves with the wind. She is interested in the siren that we can barely hear in the distance as it slowly nears. It is these all of these small things that make up the everyday.

Shelly Blake-Plock
stringed instruments

Shelly Blake-Plock couldn't make it to this year's festival, so he sent his twin brother -- also named Shelly Blake-Plock.

Karen Borca

Bassoonist/composer Karen Borca is one of the best-kept secrets in creative improvised music. She is virtually alone in many fields—for starters as a double-reed player, and specifically as a bassoonist. Karen is neither a saxophonist who branches out to double on bassoon, nor a concert instrumentalist dabbling in Jazz. To say that she is the foremost practitioner of her kind conveys only part of the story: She is a player of choice as an improvising artist. She introduced her persona as a composer and leader in the early Seventies with an eleven piece ensemble which performed at The Newport Festival Salute to Women in Jazz and quartets and quintets appearing at Soundscape, The Berlin Jazz Fest, The Tampere Jazz Happening, (both 1998), The Taktlos Festival in Switzerland, the Vision Festival (since its inception) and many other venues. She has performed and/or recorded with Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Lyons, Bill Dixon, William Parker, Andrew Cyrille, Alan Silva, Denis Charles, Frank Wright, Rob Brown, Newman Taylor-Baker to name a few. She engaged in important concert studies with John Barrows, Arthur Weisberg and the New York Woodwind Quintet. Through her awareness of the Jazz tradition among her varied roots, Karen Borca has dignified the bassoon as an impressive front-line instrument. Her playing and compositions and improvisations continue to maintain the vital freshness forever at the core of this music. Remarking on a retrospective of Lyons’s activities, Bill Shoemaker found hers to be "...the crucial catalytic voice… the most dazzling double-reed player in jazz history."

photo: Peter Gannushkin (downtownmusic.net)

Ami Dang
sitar, voice, electronics

Ami Dang (or Amrita Kaur Dang) enjoys the luxury of having rooftop access in Baltimore, MD. As a solo artist, her music, featuring sitar, voice, and electronics, awaits a record release from Ehse Records (ehserecords.com) in December 2010.

Drew Daniel

I started making 4-track noise cut-ups and playing scrap metal percussion in a hardcore band in highschool in Kentucky. In college I joined the hundred-member-strong Young Inspiration Gospel Choir (as lone atheist member), then got a sampler and started sequencing, and met my partner M. C. Schmidt and learned how to edit audio with computers. Together we are the musique-concrete / electronic pop group Matmos. As a member of Matmos I've released over eight albums and collaborated with Terry Riley, Marshall Allen, The Kronos Quartet, Zeena Parkins, So Percussion, Antony & the Johnsons, David Tibet, Wobbly, John Wiese, and Bjork. I also make house music as The Soft Pink Truth. I'm not, generally speaking, an improviser, but I’m going to try to do my best. Thanks for listening.

Dan Deacon
electronics, tuba, special projects

dan deacon studied composition at the conservatory of music at the state university of new york at purchase college. in 2004 he and several friends moved to baltimore and started the collective wham city. at that point his musical output focused primarily on loud, dense, noise based dance-pop which he could tour as a solo performer. in 2007 deacon started to gain media attention and has toured internationally over a dozen times. his live performances involve large amounts of audience participation and utilize the audience as a means of improvisation and collaboration.

photo: Josh Sisk

Tiffany Defoe

As a recent transplant to Baltimore, Tiffany DeFoe went looking for familiar territory. Soul and blues, maybe some jazz, funk if she got lucky. She found all that, buckets of it, but took an unexpected turn along the way. Judging by her last communication, she's happily exploring the interstices of her improvisational approach, learning to find sounds between sounds and beauty in extremes. She plays with the Bellevederes, Lafayette Gilchrist and the New Volcanoes, the Multiphonic Choir, Tommy Tucker and the Supernaturals, the Baltimore Afrobeat Society, and wherever else she gets the chance.

Shayna Dunkelman

Shayna Dunkelman is a percussionist active in the San Francisco Bay Area and she recently moved to Brooklyn, New York. She performs classical, contemporary, avant-garde, rock and pop, among other genres in the US, Japan, and Europe. She has recorded for composers John Zorn and Maryclare Brzytwa and is an active member of the Willie Winant Percussion Group and Phantom Orchard Orchestra (Zeena Parkins, Ikue Mori, Fe-mail, Sara Parkins, Maggie Parkins). Percussion pieces taking advantage of her versatility have been written for her by Steini Gunnarsson, Fei Wu and many others. As a former member of the rock band Mute Socialite, she has shared bills with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, XBXRX, and many others. Graduating with honors in both music and mathematics from Mills College in Oakland, CA in 2007, she studied percussion under William Winant, and during her time at Mills, she performed pieces by Terry Riley, Meredith Monk, Jose Maceda, John Bischoff and Chris Brown, among others. Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan to an Indonesian mother and a Jewsih-American father, Shayna began playing Electone at 3, clarinet, piano and percussion at 8, and embarked on her professional career at the age of 15, playing percussion, drum set and gamelan alongside her mother, a musician and composer active in Asia and the Middle East.

Karl Ekdahl
sound installation

Karl Ekdahl was born in Uppsala / Sweden and moved to the USA around 2005. For Ekdahl, musical creation and electronic/mechanic engineering have always been an obvious combination, starting with the building of a computer sound card at age 11 for the purpose of making noises and electronic pop music. Always failing at school, he was self taught in the arts of music, electronics, computer programming and clothing design. In the late 90's he started making clothes, combining things like electronics, liquid latex, inner tubes, gas masks and bread pans. At the same time he also started making "serious" analog electronic instruments, including modular synthesizers. Never quite understanding the electronics, Ekdahl often failed miserably but grew to appreciate the broad sound-palette that he could squeeze out of the half-working equipment and realized that no ready-made equipment would be it's equal.

Today Ekdahl runs a successful company utilizing the essence of that thought, deliberately mis-designing musical instruments for the future.

Owen Gardner

Owen Gardner was born in 1985 in Annapolis, MD and raised in Dubuque, Iowa. His work in composition and improvisation (and dish-washing) is informed to a great extent by his involvement in Baltimore's non-rock underground, as well as his study of Medieval European and certain non-Western musics. He has worked almost exclusively in Just Intonation, a tuning system too arcane and fascinating to adequately explain here, since 2006. He has been a member of the Red Room Collective since 2009. As a performer Mr. Gardner flies solo as often as not, but also works or has worked with groups including Black Vatican, Janitor, Matmos, Second Nature and Teeth Mountain.

Ayako Kataoka
electronics, special projects

Ayako Kataoka is a transdisciplinary artist originally from Tokyo. Her performances, installations and videos have been shown and exhibited at spaces including; Tokyo International Dance Video Festival, San Francisco International Arts Festival, High Zero Festival and Los Solos Series. She is a resident of Baltimore since 2009 and lives with her husband and a child.

Hans Koch
bass clarinet

Hans Koch has quit his carreer as a recognised classical clarinetist to become one of the most innovative improvising reed-players in Europe. He has been working with everyone from Cecil Taylor to Fred Frith since the eighties. As a composer he has shaped the sound of Koch-Schütz-Studer since the beginning as well as working for radio-plays and film. Since the nineties he has been working with electronics as an extension of the saxes/clarinets as well as with sampling/sequencing/Laptop. As a reed-player he is always working on his very own vocabulary and sound, which makes him a very unique voice on the actual scene.

Ju Suk Reet Meate

Eric Stewart was born in Covina, Calif in 1952, to a non-Musical family and began playing Trumpet (poorly) in 4th grade. Thanks to Gram-pa's Spike Jones 78's a Nonmusical Music seed was planted. After moving to Pasadena in 1972, with no further training ,'Artist' Ju Suk Reet Meate was born, and with a few friends started the "Band Without Musicians" SMEGMA in 1973. Worked with LAFMS, started Pigface Records after moving to Portland 1975, and put out, in tiny quantities with hand made covers, Legendary Smegma and Ju Suk Solo records. Sticking to an old school, 20th century Musical aesthetic he has recently taken his Slide Guitar, Pocket Trumpet, Electronics and toys to acclaimed performances in New York, Chicago, Cork, Paris, and in the UK.

Liz Meredith

Liz Meredith (b.1981) is a string player, improviser, and composer originally from Baltimore, Maryland. Her music explores many creative facets, from composing chamber works to making ambient music, song-oriented pieces, graphic scores, and solo improvisations. "Baltimore’s Liz Meredith [is a] creator of string-based, electronically textured drones made to soothe souls…" Liz enjoys playing her friends' music too! She has premiered 21st century music by emerging composers. Liz holds degrees from The Berklee College of Music (B.M. String Performance and Film Music), and Mills College (M.A. Music Composition). She has studied viola performance with Hank Dutt of The Kronos Quartet, and music composition with Fred Frith.

Marc Miller

"Everyone knows that I fall asleep at Marc’s performances. I want everyone to know that I fall asleep not because his music is boring, but because I drift. In fact, Marc’s music is captivating with its uneasiness: there is a discomfort created from the listeners' inability to navigate through the sequence of sound events and construe the structure of music. However this inability allows the listeners to find pleasure in the experience of sounds that happen instead of seeking some sort of directions or narrative in the music. In other words, there is a pleasure in Marc’s music because it is not flirtatious to the one’s ears." -Marc’s wife

Stewart Mostofsky

Stewart Mostofsky does many things, often simultaneously. One of them is that he plays electronic instruments. He is also a member of the Red Room collective and the High Zero Foundation.

Michael Muniak

Solve the puzzle with the following word choices: Chesapeake, Erie, Meow, Qi, Brains, Michigan, Charlevoix.

"Born by a great lake (____).  Grew up on the shore of a lake (____) that empties into another great lake (____).  Now down by the bay (____) finishing up a PhD in Neuroscience (____).  Married to an acupuncturist (____).  Caretaker of three cats (____)."

Andrea Neumann
inner piano

Born 1968 in Freiburg, Studied classical piano at the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin. Has been active primarily as musician and composer in the fields of new music and experimental music since 1994. Has co-organized "Labor Sonor," a series for experimental music, film and performance in Berlin since 2000.

Her exploration of the piano for new sound possibilities has led her to reduce the instrument to its strings, its resonance board and the cast-iron frame. Playing this unmounted 'leftover' of a piano, with the help of electronics to amplify and manipulate the sound, she has developed several of her own playing techniques, sounds, and ways for preparing the instrument. For reasons of weight, a lighter special instrument was crafted in 2000 according to the measurements of the original heavier inside piano (piano builder, Bernd Bittmann, Berlin).

photo: Sébastien Bozon

Tuna Pase
voice, flute, laptop

Tuna Pase is a musician based in Istanbul. Her areas of interest are electro-acoustic composition, improvisation, ethnomusicology, sound engineering and sound design. She plays flute, percussion and sings. She draws her musical inspiration from Istanbul, Jerusalem, Eastern hemisphere, nature, poetry, photography, street art and daydreaming. She performs her electroacoustic compositions in an improvised manner, where she "re-composes" them live using the elements that build those compositions. She is also an academician, teaching ethnomusicology and music technology. She loves inspiring children through workshops on sound and music.

She has played and attended projects and workshops in Europe (France, Germany, Austria, Italy ) and Turkey. High Zero will be her first appearance in the US.

She has been composing under the moniker "outoftune" and brings them together under the conceptual name "Discotheque Sounds From The Cemetery". The name "outoftune" is inspired by her ethnomusicology advisor Robert Reigle, when he told her that she was outoftune after her first ever classical music performance in front of an audience.

Tristan Perich
sound installation

In all his creative activities, Tristan Perich is inspired by the aesthetics of math and physics, and works with simple forms and complex systems. The challenge of elegance provokes his work in acoustic and electronic music, and physical and digital art. The WIRE Magazine describes his compositions as “an austere meeting of electronic and organic.” His works for soloist, ensemble and orchestra have been performed internationally by ensembles including Bang on a Can (2008 People’s Commissioning Fund), counter)induction, Calder Quartet, New York Miniaturist Ensemble, Hunter- Gatherer and Ensemble Pamplemousse at venues from the Whitney Museum, P.S.1, Merkin Hall, the Stone, Joe’s Pub and Issue Project Room to Los Angeles’ Zipper Hall.

In 2004 he began work on 1-Bit Music to experiment with the foundations of electronic sound, culminating in a physical “album,” a music-generating circuit packaged inside a standard CD jewel case, which has been released by Cantaloupe Music. The Village Voice calls the device “technology and aesthetic rolled into one” and Surface Magazine calls the 1-Bit Music boxes “profound throwbacks to the traditional album, a response to the intangibility of iTunes and mp3s in the form hand-held artwork.” Working with 1-bit music profoundly influenced his music for acoustic ensembles, resulting in dual compositions for musicians with 1-bit music accompaniment, pairing the performers with on-stage speakers. His new circuit album, 1-Bit Symphony (due in April on Cantaloupe Music), is a long-form electronic composition in five movements. Its music explores the intricate, polyphonic potential of 1-bit audio, uniting simple with complex and celebrating the virtuosity of electricity.

As a visual artist, Perich has had solo exhibitions at bitforms gallery (NYC) in 2009 and Mikrogalleriet (Copenhagen) in 2010. His Machine Drawings, pen-on-paper drawings executed by machine, were featured in the 2005 book, “Makers” and described as “elegantly delicate” by BOMB Magazine. Expressing digital processes in traditional media, these drawings explore order and randomness within compositional frameworks, delicately executed by the minimal drawing machine. His work with 1-bit video, including Eighteen Linear Constructions on continuous view at Issue Project Room, employs binary electrical pulses to create images on cathode ray televisions. His artwork has been shown in group shows at LABoral, MCLA’s Gallery 51, Dactyl Foundation, ABC No Rio, the Philoctetes Center, and Greylock Arts.

His experimental music group, the Loud Objects (with Kunal Gupta and Katie Shima), perform electronic music by soldering their own noise-making circuits, live, from scratch in front of the audience, often on top of an old overhead projector to render transparent the meaning of their physical gestures. They have performed and exhibited in Germany (Art and Music with the Overhead Projector), Japan, Italy (Screen Music 2), Norway (Piksel), England (Evolution), Iceland (Pikslaverk), Sweden (Art of the Overhead), Denmark and the USA (including at the NIME, Bent and Blip festivals). They received a 2009 commission from Turbulence.org to create a networked noise toy development tool for open experimentation in hardware audio programming.

In 2009, Austria’s Prix Ars Electronica awarded him the Award of Distinction for his composition Active Field (for ten violins and ten-channel 1-bit music). Rhizome awarded him a 2010 commission for an audio installation with 1,500 speakers. Perich attended the first Bang on a Can Summer Institute in 2002, where his music was performed in the galleries at Mass MoCA. He was artist in residence at Issue Project Room during Fall, 2008 and in 2010 he will be artist in residence at Mikrogalleriet in Copenhagen and the Addison Gallery in Andover, MA. He has spoken about his work and taught workshops around the world.

Perich studied math, music and computer science at Columbia University after attending Philips Academy, Andover. More recently, he studied art, music and electronics at Interactive Telecommunications Program at Tisch School of the Arts, NYU.

Juanjosè Rivas
circuit bending
Mexico City

Sound and visual artist. He has studied at SABK in karlsruhe Germany. As well, He has been a resident artist at HANGAR Multimedia Center in Barcelona Spain And in the Multimedia Center in México City.

His work has been exhibited in different festivals and galleries: Germany, Argentina, Canada, Spain, U.S.A, Japan, Portugal, Morocco and Mexico. Juanjosè has collaborated and shared stage with artist like Elliott Sharp, Joker Nies, Bloodyminded, Angelica Castello, Burkhard Stlang, Chris Cogburn, among many more.

His work use a lot of media and resources like: Sound improvisations, performances, presentations, live cinema, circuit bending, glitch sampling, radio interference, sonic walls, white noise, static, magnetism, residual sounds. Audiovisual actions that plunge us into a dark abyss.

Dr. Johannes Rosenberg
special projects, violin, technology

For over 35 years, Dr. Johannes Rosenberg has been at the sharp end of experimental, new and improvised music on the global stage. Central to that practice has been 'The Relative Violin' project, a unique output, rich in content, realising almost everything on, with, and about the violin - and string music in general. Most celebrated is the worldwide Fence project; least known are the relative violins - over 20 home experimental string instruments, created specifically for and in Australia.

In the area of interactive electronics, his work is considered exemplary, having pioneered the use of the MIDI bow in the 'Hyperstring' project in the 1980s with the Steim Institute, Amsterdam - and with whom he continues to collaborate often in interactive projects involving sport, games, or the environment.

Dr. Johannes Rosenberg has appeared on more than 60 albums and collaborated with many of the mavericks of new music including Kronos String Quartet, John Cage, Derek Bailey, Butch Morris, John Zorn, Alvin Curran, Fred Frith, George Lewis, Otomo Yoshihide, Christian Marclay, Eugene Chadbourne, etc. at festivals of New Music, Jazz, and Sound Art world wide such as Ars Elektronica, Festival D’Automne, Maerzmusik, Dokumenta, North Sea Jazz Fest, Leipzig Jazz Fest, European Media, New Music America, the Vienna Festival, the Berlin Jazz Festival, etc.

Recently Dr. Johannes Rosenberg was commissioned by the Kronos String Quartet to write and build "Music from 4 Fences" for the Sydney Opera House; realised his bicycle powered "Pursuit" project at Carriage Works (Sydney) and The Mona Foma Festival (Hobart); performed a completely new and improvised solo part for the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; created two major radiophonic works for the BBC on the first Aboriginal string orchestra and the history of the piano in 19th century Australia; toured in Europe with his current improvisation groups 'Futch' and 'Strike'; premiered his interactive huge Ball project at The Melbourne Festival and Sounds Outback (W.A.); performed his interactive multi-media composition "Internal Combustion" for violin and orchestra at The Philharmonic, Berlin; and been apprehended by the Israeli Defence Forces at the Separation Fence near Ramallah in the occupied territories.

Tomoko Sauvage
porcelain bowls, water

Born in Yokohama, Japan, she grew up with classical then jazz piano education. Fascinated by the fluid sound of water she heard on an Indian traditional instrument, she has been working on a self-developed 'electro-aquatic' instrument, "waterbowls", porcelain bowls filled with water, hydrophones and electronics. She literally plays with water by touching and agitating it or by making water drops fall into the bowls. In this project, her search for musicality develops from a simple attitude of listening to nature in keeping fragile balance between being controlled and uncontrolled, repetitive and transient. She has made numerous performances internationally and her works have been released on labels such as either/OAR (US) and dokidoki editions (FR) among others. She uses H2a-XLR hydrophones made by Aquarian Audio Products.

M.C. Schmidt

M.C. Schmidt has lived in Baltimore for 3 years or so and has enjoyed it very much. He enjoys the way free improvisation infects every good scene here, and feels that the High Zero Festival is still the current center of that historical influence. He hopes it rubs off on him and his band Matmos in which he has been playing for 16 or 17 years with his evil-genius boyfriend Dr. Drew Daniel. He has also played with Marshall Allen, David Grubbs, Mary Baker Eddy, Jason Willett, Willa Cather, Marshal Tito, Ecstatic Sunshine, Bjork, The Beatles and The Guess Who. Sometimes he lies. He tires of writing in the third person now, but looks forward with excitement toward listening to and playing "music".

Gary Smith
United Kingdom

Originally working professionally in commercial music, he formed the improvising group, The Acme Quartet in the late 1970's & moved away from the commercial arena. He studied harmony & counterpoint with composer John South. He has worked with, amongst others: John Stevens, God, Rhys Chatham, Mass, Bill Fay, Shoji Hano, Bernhard Gunter, Masayoshi Urabe, Aufgehoben. Known for his dense contrapuntal style, pioneering use of stereo guitar & more recently integrating extra-musical influences (such as birdsong, sound associated with computer generated music etc) into his musical language; these being realised without the aid of effects of any kind. Currently he is recording & performing with Bernhard Gunter (as Klangstaub), Aufgehoben & playing solo.

Dragos Tara
special projects, Max/MSP, acoustic bass

Composer, double bass player and electronic musician, Dragos Tara spends his time between composition and improvisation. His musical and extra-musical collaborations are motivated by an interest in game theory, diversion of social rituals and the extension of instrument and body by technology.

Keith Fullerton Whitman

Keith Fullerton Whitman is a composer/performer obsessed with electronic music; from its mid-century origins in Europe through its contemporary worldwide incarnation as "digital music."

Currently he is working towards implementing a complete system for live performance of improvised electronic music that incorporates elements from nearly every era: a reel-to-reel tape machine, a selection of small "jerry-rigged" / "circuit-bent" battery-powered sound-producing boxes, an analog modular synthesizer, an early "consumer" home-computer, and at the core; a contemporary computer running a custom-built Max-MSP based modular system that both controls these elements and acts as a central conduit into which their sounds are captured/collected, processed, then diffused to up to eight separate channels/speakers/amplifiers.

He is also, at present, composing an as-of-yet untitled piece for Egyptian Oud, Serge and Doepfer Analog Modular Synthesizers, and computer control/processing. It is his first through-composed long-form work.


Wobbly began as an improvised live mix radio program in Santa Barbara In 1990 and since 1994 has become the unintentional psuedonym of Jon Leidecker. Improvising music with pre-recorded sounds hardly precludes self-expression, but does emphasize the art of listening, which is at risk of getting lost in the name of the increasingly unrecognizable and distorted ideals of democracy. Previous albums have appeared on the labels Phthalo, Illegal Art, Vague Terrain, Tigerbeat6 and Important. Selected recent albums are freely available online. Previous and ongoing collaborators include Thomas Dimuzio, People Like Us, Matmos, Anne McGuire, Negativland, Tim Perkis, Xopher Davidson, Blevin Blectum, Lesser, Otomo Yoshihide, Zeena Parkins, MaryClare Brzytwa and Huun-Huur-Tu.

Musicians from Afar »

Karen Borca (NYC): bassoon

Shayna Dunkelman (NYC): percussion

Ju Suk Reet Meate (Portland): trumpet

Hans Koch (Switzerland): bass clarinet

Andrea Neumann (Germany): inner piano

Tuna Pase (Istanbul): voice, flute, laptop

Juanjosè Rivas (Mexico City): circuit bending

Tomoko Sauvage (Paris): porcelain bowls, water

Gary Smith (United Kingdom): guitar

Keith Fullerton Whitman (Boston): electronics

Wobbly (California): electronics

Musicians from Baltimore »

Shelly Blake-Plock: stringed instruments

Ami Dang: sitar, voice, electronics

Drew Daniel: electronics

Dan Deacon: electronics, tuba

Tiffany Defoe: saxophone

Owen Gardner: strings

Ayako Kataoka: electronics

Liz Meredith: viola

Marc Miller: guitar

Stewart Mostofsky: electronics

Michael Muniak: feedback

M.C. Schmidt: electronics

Special Projects »

Dan Deacon (Baltimore)

Ayako Kataoka (Baltimore)

Dr. Johannes Rosenberg (Australia)

Dragos Tara (Switzerland)

Sound Installations »

Tristan Perich (NYC)

Karl Ekdahl (Baltimore)

Julie Benoit (Baltimore)

» more details

Workshops »

Dragos Tara @ Goucher College (9/22)

Wobbly @ Peabody Conservatory (9/22)

Juanjosè Rivas @ MICA (9/22)

Hans Koch @ UMBC (9/24)

» more details