Live Review: Irene Moon at Art Damage

Good ol’ Art Damage Lodge opened up its doors last Friday to its regular crowd of chin-scratching art buffs, alcoholic hipsters and crusty noise mongrels, who filed into a hot, sticky room and plopped down on hot, sticky couches to get their fix of some hot, sticky, live experimental muse-sick. —-

The headlining act, performance artist, surrealist/etymologist and noise musician Irene Moon, kicked off the night’s festivities with a short film projection. It featured a series of still shots of a shifting, antlered dude connected to wires and moving in profile against an escutcheon-shaped background, its patterns constantly morphing and stretching from soothing and colorfully lit to stark, paranoid and bleak. A hypnotic, pre-recorded, amplified-insect-digesting-a-weed-whacker-in-a-trash-compactor soundtrack lulled the room into a wide-eyed stupor and eventually swelled to a suspenseful point. Interesting stuff, but it was somewhat unclear as to what the visual accompaniment was intended to achieve other than to provide a conceptual, creepy/gothic-looking background (or a disjointed, absurdist horror show) for the sounds.

Next, local shredder boys Pete Fosco and Chris Adams plugged in and proceeded to whip up a double-electric-guitar attack that aspired to epic wall-of-noise proportions. Hunched over with their backs to the crowd, the two fixed their attentions firmly on their Sunn amps and the effects pedals on the floor, tearing into their axes with thick, discordant glee. They whipped up a loud and breakneck improvisational guitar whirlwind, but in the end, it just kind of sounded like a Sonic Youth noise freakout extended into a 20-minute maelstrom. It didn’t really hit the major climax it could or should have, but it certainly sounded neat.

The one-sallow-man electronic project known as Three-Legged Race was on next. Stark, awkward beats that initially sounded, as my friend Charlie pointed out, like a guy doing a synth demo in a music store, were slowly engulfed into staticy washes of analog keyboard noise. Vocals that recalled Gibby-with-a-megaphone-era Butthole Surfers were added to the mix as TLR worked his synths and various other mystery devices. While he managed to build all of this into a cool, hypnotic drone that sustained itself for a few minutes, the experiment fell on its face when TLR anticlimactically ended his set with an annoying and poorly executed two-note keyboard line.

Irene Moon’s was the obvious winner of the three performances that night. She’s a pro, after all, having worked in multiple performance art and noise music capacities over the past 13 years. The renaissance woman positioned herself at a table of electronic instrumentation set behind a white screen. Moon, complete with pig-snout mask attached to her face, struck a shadowed profile upon the screen as the projector shone a giant circle whose color shifted from lime green to blood-red to an eerie orange glow. Black-and-white visual interference reminiscent of a possessed TV on a fuzzy, horizontal roll strobed madly by behind it. With a distorted, husky voice, Moon proceeded to tell a twisted, mostly incomprehensible fairy tale with a musical backtrack similar to the industrial lullabye that accompanied her opening film. Super-cool stuff. My only beef is that no one was passing around joints. I mean, seriously, people!

Check out some of Irene’s far-out videos on her YouTube channel.

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