The Detroit Bureau of Sound requires no introduction in Southeast Michigan’s experimental music scene. Since its inception, they have hosted an impressive array of performers representing a dizzying span of genres, in venues that collectively sample the dexterity of Detroit’s impressive spatial offerings. Without the familiar name that accompanies each event, the shows could easily be mistaken as the work of multiple presenters. Just over a year ago, DBS took over the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Rivera Court for an experimental music show. As if that wasn’t enough, they recently did it again.
I arrived to the sound of woody masses thoughtfully contacting marble floors, guided by the will of musicians that exhibited their meritorious presence in a demanding room while somehow still demonstrating the humility expected of anyone that occupies such a space. I watched as the quartet produced coordinated sounds that fell in and out of one another, oscillating in waves of ominous crescendo and disonent auditory pokes. Each piece presented such impressive ranges manifested in different patterns, through the use of tools as distinct as a bowed vibraphone and amplified hand saws. The program featured the work of established experimental musicians, along with the world premiere of Zac Brunell’s “Architexture.”
As with almost any experimental music presenter, DBS seeks to respect the integrity of challenging and forward-thinking music while also making efforts to present such music in a palatable manner. Sometimes that means strategically organizing a lineup, other times that means throwing an event at one of the premier artistic institutions in the City of Detroit. The Rivera Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts possesses undeniable presence: the walls drip with character, and even recalls past memories and emotions for returning visitors. In these and other ways, the music was presented within a thoughtful and even familiar context, establishing an avenue through which seasoned enthusiasts and curious passers-by alike could appreciate the work.
After a short intermission, Matthew Dear hauled his rig to center-stage to present Audion, his live techno alias that bears little resemblance to his more dance-centric work. Following an impressive introduction to his meticulous form of experimentation, Dear decided to engage the audience by narrating his impressively analog demonstration, priming the crowd for each transition while still preserving a sense of surprise. The resulting sounds pulsed in and out of rhythm, leaving the audience (including some enthusiastic children, perhaps technophiles in the making) to latch on to their own beat, finding their connection to the music in the process.
All in all, DBS has not only proved that they are a committed champion for the world of experimental music, but also that they possess the capacity and charisma to bring their version of moving sonic stimuli to any place it is welcome. In proper form, each subsequent opportunity has been met with tact and prowess, which means that the next DBS event, wherever it is, is not one to miss.
Photos By: Karl Otto / The Ottolab
Video By: Evan Zott