Mountain Oasis, indeed. Asheville, North Carolina, that land of impassioned musicians and Moog manufacture, is unusually blessed in musical riches, especially of the electrified variety. And where once Moog gathered informal performances from synth fans, a recent split in festivals has spawned not one but two blockbuster events, turning this southeastern US hamlet into a kind of mecca for musicians of all stripes. These multiply rather than dividing the events.
So, now there’s Moogfest, which this year will happen in spring. And then there’s Mountain Oasis, which took place last month. Both are overflowing with spectacular headliners, in the form of musical acts and pioneering inventors alike. That includes the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Gary Numan, The Orb, and an obscenely-huge, hard-to-believe-it’s-real lineup at Mountain Oasis. But for Mountain Oasis and the upcoming Moogfest, in addition to superstars, there are also smaller showcases that provide hands-on experimentation with tools and under-the-radar performances from adventurous underground musicians. (Keep your eye on nearby Knoxville, Tennessee, too: this year’s lineup of Big Ears Festival isn’t out yet, but past editions included Jon Hassell, Philip Glass, Pauline Olivieros, Fennesz, Matmos, and Negativland. Not too shabby, either. You thought the southern US was some kind of cultural wasteland? Guess again.)
And we get to enjoy at least a few of those fruits vicariously. With the help of Chris Stack of ExperimentalSynth, we’ve got photos of the goodness of Mountain Oasis. And we have videos from friends, as well.
Musical collective and purveyors of analog love TRASH_AUDIO were on-hand at Mountain Oasis for what they described as their Synth Meet. It’s half-machine, half-music in focus. Hardware makers set up their wares, laboratory-style, for anyone to explore and jam on. Then demonstrations follow with this unparalleled group of synthesists and sound designers. The TRASH_AUDIO personnel: Alessandro Cortini (Nine Inch Nails, How To Destroy Angels), Justin McGrath (Nine Inch Nails, former Senior Sound Designer for Motorola Mobility), Richard Devine (Recording Artist, Sound Designer), Surachai (Sound Designer, Location Sound Designer, Composer).
And finally, demos give way to live performances, as assembled by Richard Devine.
TRASH_AUDIO here gives their usual, quirky-good rough-cut impressions of the event.
Alessandro Cortini’s performance is exceptional – not the rambling modular stuff you might expect from a lesser artist, really nicely-shaped songs.
Some of the talks were also documented – worth watching if you can live with slightly crude video quality. For instance, via Keyboard Magazine, an interview with the legendary Gary Numan:
In ten videos, a panel of inventors: Richard Devine, Tony Rolando, Paul Vo, and August Worley, as moderated by Matthew Sherwood.
Other highlights: King Britt talking about his work at Mountain Oasis and LEAF, plus, from the Bob Moog Foundation, the hands-on playground that was Dr. Bob’s Interactive Sonic Experience, including an interactive installation by Mark Mosher.
Seems it was a spectacular event. More pics: