Infinite Loop Opening Reception, with music by Man Forever and People of the North
Secret Project Robot
Saturday, January 14
Better than: Any venue without free pinball.
Infinite Loop, the month-long art show by Val Britton and John Colpitts that opened at Secret Project Robot’s new location in Bushwick on Saturday, comes with the eternal promise of combining image and music. It also comes with fresh accoutrements for the venerable art space, in the slow process of rebuilding since its autumn relocation. They now have a stage, for starters. They have white-painted walls. Perhaps soon to grow thick with layer, for now they represent something like a flag-planting: the symbolic arrival of virgin gallery surfaces to Melrose Street. They also have a pinball machine (Bally’s Medusa, 1981) with a bowl of quarters, a cool cut-away bar that opens into the gallery, a rocking chair, and set-break music provided by a single turntable.
Britton’s map-evoking art, hung on the walls and in a light jungle from the ceiling, recalls ghost-coasts, ambiently dotted topographical details, and off-chart-pointing paper-slits. Colpitts, the Oneida drummer who usually flies under the name Kid Millions, anchored two bands and three sets of perfect accompaniment to Britton’s abstractions. There was wine and cheese and cupcakes, but Colpitts’s two bands, Man Forever and People of the North, almost overwhelmed Britton’s delicate dream-maps. At least at first. While Oneida continues to set up their new recording studio in Secret Project Robot’s new rear, Millions has plugged on with his numerous projects; People of the North’s Steep Formations comes out on Brah in February, while Man Forever’s Thrill Jockey debut is scheduled for a May release.
Since its debut in the Monster Island basement two years ago, Man Forever has folded from a Boredoms-like multi-drumkit ensemble into one more suited to its creator: Millions and another drummer (this time, Guardian Alien’s Greg Fox) face off over a single tuned snare and monastically drum while top-volume guitar, bass, and keyboards subsume the drums into an overpowering and delicately changing rush, until everybody stops abruptly. For the evening, the band included a pair of snares, two keyboards, two members of Oneida, and Yo La Tengo’s James McNew on bass. It wasn’t the music’s volume or intent that necessarily overpowered the art on the walls. In fact, the noisy color-pulses were a great frame for Britton’s collages. But it was also impossible to pay attention to anything but the blindingly loud octet on (and, in the case of the two keyboards, just off) stage. Perhaps for similar reasons, the art crowd gradually trickled out, off to sample whatever else was popping off in L-train-less Bushwick.
The crowd thinned a little more during the set-break, as the band stripped to a People of the North trio of Millions and Oneida’s Bobby Matador and Shahin Motia. Where Millions had to play a rigid snare during Man Forever’s set, in People of the North he was able to lay out entirely, and often did. “I love airplane noise,” read a sticker on one of Matador’s keyboards; that declaration set the tone for performance and, when the band announced a short break, ensured the clear-out of anybody there for the wine and cheese. The smaller the crowd, though, the more intimate the trio’s improv seemed to grow, and during the second set they reached moments of quiet, Millions picking out small drum melodies.
For Millions, Infinite Loop is a deeper step into into the world of free improv. Each weekend through February 3, he will collaborate with a different group at Secret Project Robot, including Borbetomagus’s Jim Sauter (January 21 and February 3), Notekillers guitarist David First (January 27), and others. And if the future gigs follow the form of the opening, by the end of each night, when it’s down to a half-dozen people, one might be able to experience Britton’s artwork and Colpitt’s music together simply by sitting with it.
Critical bias: I also love airplane noise.
Overheard: “I play in 12 bands. Well, 11. One hasn’t played out yet.”
Random notebook dump: A rocking chair is a really good place to listen to drone jams, turns out. Gnarly oscillations.