Now that anything can become an instrument, musicianship can become the practice of finding the spirit in the unexpected. It’s what Matt Moldover championed in the notion of controllerism, what years of DIYers have made evident. It’s not just a matter of finding a novelty or two. It’s really taking those novelties and making them a creative force.
Adriano Clemente, the Italian-born, Brooklyn-based artist (aka Capcom), is a shining light of just that sort of imagination. Regular CDM readers will see some familiar techniques. There’s a laser harp, a circuit-bent toy, mic transducers making objects into triggers, a Numark Orbit controller, a LEAP Motion, a Kinect, an Ableton Push, and I’m fairly sure that’s fellow Italian Marco Donnarumma’s wonderful Xth Sense controller in VICE/Motherboard’s featurette on the artist. But it’s the way Adriano puts it all together that becomes the magic.
To put it simply, it’s hard not to get infected by his enthusiasm. He doesn’t just play these unusual objects – he really plays. He’s exploring the reality around him.
This is in fact the perfect companion to last week’s story by Matt Earp, with Spanish artist Ain TheMachine:
Music That’s All Human Body and Objects, No Instruments: Biotronica with Ain TheMachine [Interview]
The scene for this kind of work, once limited to isolated experiments and academia, is really heating up. It’s actually becoming a realm in which people are outdoing one another, as the world community of experimental performance grows.
I think readers here will also respond to what Adriano says about encountering conservatism – about the people who try to put these different approaches into boxes. (The “that isn’t real music” argument is something we’ve all certainly found.)
Watching the VICE video, you may miss out on Adriano’s musical versatility – and there’s a lot. So, here’s more to see. He isn’t just using odd DIY tools; he mixes familiar options like Ableton Live and conventional MIDI controllers with more experimental approaches, and teaches both, as well. (He’s on the faculty at New York’s Dubspot – and now runs their mysterious and intriguing Dubspot Labs.)
I find his music across genres to be really evocative. Here’s a quick experiment with custom Rutt Etra-style visuals and rather lovely music.
In Den Haag, NL, he turned Leap Motion into a triply gestural controller for light and sound – a kind of Theremin light and sound organ. Done before? Oh, indeed. But by mixing in clever, glitchy rhythmic element, he ramped up the expressive, fun quality of that interaction. Implementation is everything. Visuals here are produced by Resolume Arena with sound by Ableton Live.
But he’s just at home improvising on more conventional controllers. Here he is (for Dubspot) on Ableton Push and (for KORG) on the Korg Tra. I actually think this is a better demonstration of Push improvisation than the promo videos Ableton themselves produced – but, then, Adriano has done a lot of expert work with setup. Ahem – that is to say, he can make the rest of us look clumsy. (I’d better practice my Push routines.)
Adriano on the setup:
In this video, I’ve made an effort to concentrate on the major features and options that users have to perform with in Ableton Push. I want to clarify that I don’t necessarily define Push as a performance controller, nor do I use it Live as a only component of my rig, it’s more a studio buddy which helps me to transport the experience of making music into a more engaging dimension and let me escape the classic keyboard-mouse setting. – Adriano Clemente
This sure does look like a performance to me, though I understand that he’s choosing different tools in his main performance rig. But maybe that’s the point: this sort of live improvisation can invigorate studio work, too.
He goes into more detail on the Dubspot blog.
With KORG taktile, he blows a huge hole with my previous argument that you don’t necessarily want pads on a keyboard by showing just what you can do combining a keyboard with X/Y controller and pads all in one device. (This is part of what makes KORG taktile an interesting rival to Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol – the NI option is more minimal, which could be a factor depending on your tastes.)
None of this would be worthwhile if it was just flailing arms around. Fortunately, his music can send you into a state of glitches-out mental vacation. For instance, here he is going nuts in a trippy, game-inspired world:
And there’s a lot more on SoundCloud:
Previously, I covered his Kinect work.
Ableton has the best profile of his background and inspiration – as much about the nature of the interactions he explores as it is about their products:
Adriano Clemente: Human Interaction
You’ll find lots more via his official site (including links to social media):
Thanks, Adriano, for the latest inspiration!