Keeping It Weird: The Best of Times at Ende Tymes Festival

Oakland, California's Sharkiface plays the festival June 3.
Oakland, California's Sharkiface plays the festival June 3.
Photo courtesy Ende Tymes

In early 2011, a friend of experimental composer Bob Bellerue told him that, considering how long he’d been around New York’s noise scene, he should start a festival of his own. And then, later that week, so did another friend, and another one. Two weeks later, he caved. “I wrote to a dozen people, and every single one of them said, ‘Fuck yeah!' ” he tells the Voice by phone.

He’s still going strong. From June 2–5, fans with an ear for the strange and exciting can head to the Ende Tymes Festival of Noise and Experimental Liberation, which brings together over three dozen artists who work in weird, awesome ways. It’s a unique event, and that makes it easy to sustain. “I’m not having to hound people, or call agents, or write contracts,” Bellerue explains. “[Last year] everyone was saying that it was like a family reunion. They were there because they wanted to see their friends, and they wanted to perform for their friends.”

The community is both international and omni-generational. Artists featured on this year’s bill include L.A.-based noise lifer Hive Mind, whose fifteen-plus-year catalog ranges from the eerily crepuscular to the wildly out of control; Swiss outsider art collective 5chimpfluch Grupp3; and the chameleonic Maine sound sculptor Jason Lescalleet. “Usually there’s one person I haven’t met,” says Bellerue of the lineups, “but this time there’s a handful. Keeps it weird.” It’s not uncommon, he adds, for surprise sets to spontaneously arise at the end of the night; attendees are likely to get more than they’re paying for (in a good way).

Live music sets happen at Silent Barn, where a blend of Ende Tymes regulars and newcomers fill the bright space with disparate sounds. Telecult Powers, composed of Witchbeam and Mister Matthews, have appeared at Ende Tymes in various permutations over the years, interrogating homemade electronics to produce buzzing drones that can feel physically affecting; this year marks the first time they’ll play in this setup. “We haven't had an opportunity to perform together since last December, which makes the Ende Tymes Festival even more exciting,” says Witchbeam. “We're looking forward to turning the Silent Barn into a flying saucer one more time, and entering the pleroma.”

On the newcomer side is Spiteful Womb, the project of NYC-based artist Nora Luisa. Her sets tend toward the cryptic and murky, immersing vocals and voice samples in grinding, blackened-synth sound streams. “Ashes, an urn, knives, processed vocals, and tape loops created from old cylinder recordings” will figure in her late-Sunday performance, she says, while a visual accompaniment will draw from the “traditions of gothic and body horror and pure wound worship.”

Ende Tymes also includes an installation component, which has expanded this year to span seven pieces at Knockdown Center in Ridgewood. The presentation is co-curated by experimental turntablist Maria Chavez and co-presented with Downtown Brooklyn performance space Issue Project Room. Included are pieces by Rhode Island’s Scott Reber, whose installations include pianos and coffee cans turned into speakers. “He also has scores he might hang on the wall, and a durational performance [where] he’s going to play for four hours straight,” says Bellerue. Argentina’s Cecilia Lopez, meanwhile, has created a web of speaker wire and contact mics that will hang from the ceiling, creating continuous airborne feedback.

Last year, Brooklyn’s Julia Santoli offered a choral installation piece, and this year, she says, she’s following it up with “a nonprescriptive theme, an improvisation that is kind of like research for a new piece” inspired by the story of Judith and Holofernes from the contested biblical Book of Judith. “Festivals are amazing for the energy and collective feeling of the space,” Santoli continues. “The energy allows you, as a performer, to be really loose and spontaneous. It's an inspiring atmosphere, an incredible opportunity to become introduced to so many new artists and sounds.”

Bellerue thinks that newness and excitement is what makes Ende Tymes special, and he doesn’t ever want to lose that sense of discovery. “I don’t like to think about the festival being established or anything,” he says. “I don’t want to think about it being significant; I think about it as being a really good goddamn time.”

The Ende Tymes Festival runs June 2–5 at Silent Barn and Knockdown Center. Head to the Ende Tymes site for details. 

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