S T Y L U S
STYLUS [‘staɪləs] is a device attached to the cartridge in the pick-up arm of a record player that rests in the groove in the record, transmitting the vibrations to the sensing device in the cartridge; a Washington DC-based turntable ensemble that performs with multiple vintage classroom turntables as their instruments, using locked-groove and prepared vinyl to create a sound that is minimalist, pulse-like and hypnotic yet also dynamic and punctuated.
STYLUS performers to date include mainstays of the Washington, DC avant-garde, free improvisation, modern composition, noise and electronic music scene: Janel Leppin and Anthony Pirog (Janel & Anthony/21st Century Ensemble); Chester Hawkins (Blue Sausage Infant); Jeff Bagato (Tone Ghosting/Mercury Fools the Alchemist); Matt Boettke (Scant); Andrew McCarry (Borborites); Layne Garrett (Weed Tree); Keith Sinzinger (Fast Forty); Gary Rouzer (Nine Strings/amptext); Guillermo Pizarro, live sound mixing; and JS Adams (BLK w/BEAR), artistic director.
STYLUS warmly embraces the modern compositional elements of turntablism and the contemporary sound-art of Christian Marclay, Leyland Kirby (The Caretaker) and Philip Jeck, while championing historic constructs such as the Futurist manifesto L'arte dei Rumori, Dadaism, Samuel F.B. Morse, Automatism, Louis Braille, Milan Knížák's Broken Music, the graphic scores of Cornelius Cardew, Fluxus performance, and the prepared instrumentation and happenstance of John Cage.
STYLUS collaborated with BLK w/BEAR and Insect Factory as STYLUS!BLACK!FACTORY! for the annual Sonic Circuits Festival at the Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Lang Theatre. Their collaborative composition, our reasoning + safety falter under increased scrutiny + atmospheric weight, manifested an audio-visual maelstrom, navigating harmonious ambient drones and caustic acoustical squalls. BLK TAG – a project between Tag Cloud and BLK w/BEAR – contributed a foreboding and ominous background track to the piece while STYLUS members used prepared vinyl from Insect Factory and BLK w/BEAR in a score informed by Morse code and evangelical eschatology.
STYLUS!BLACK!FACTORY! performance (our reasoning + safety falter under increased scrutiny + atmospheric weight; 30 September 2012) audio at Soundcloud
STYLUS returned to the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage on Saturday, 23 May 2012, as Sonic Circuits presented a celebration of classic John Cage compositions re-interpreted and performed by local artists. STYLUS performed Credo in Us (1945) re-scored for 'prepared' vinyl recordings of the original Cage piece and augmented with 1960s sound-effects albums, electric buzzers and hand-held radios. Special thanks to Dave Vosh, Doug Poplin, STYLUS member Jeff Bagato and Keith Sinzinger's nephew Ryan who added the sounds of buzzers and radios to the STYLUS performance from out in the audience in true Fluxus happening fashion. (Extra special thanks to Keith for constructing such amazing electric buzzers!)
STYLUS performance (Credo in Us; 25 May 2012) video at the Kennedy Center
STYLUS performed live soundtracks to two classic silent films, Lot in Sodom (James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber, 1933) and Emak-Bakia (Man Ray, 1926) for the Sonic Circuits 2011 Festival opener at the AFI Silver Theatre on Wednesday, 14 September. For Lot in Sodom, STYLUS was augmented by Doug Poplin (Bach Sinfonia; BLK w/BEAR) and ensemble member Janel Leppin on cellos. Eschewing their locked-groove vinyl for this performance, STYLUS in place used prepared Jazz and Classical 78rpm recordings altered in homage to the Man Ray readymade Cadeau (1921) and subjected to additional inscriptions and machinations. Program Notes (PDF file; 1 page)
STYLUS soundtrack performance for Lot in Sodom at AFI Silver Theatre (Halite; 14 September 2011) on Soundcloud
STYLUS on Facebook
STYLUS on Flickr (Intangible Arts)
STYLUS combine.monogram (District of Noise Vol. 4 compilation vinyl album) on Soundcloud
STYLUS performance at Pyramid Atlantic (AWL; 07 May 2011) on Soundcloud
STYLUS debut performance (The Ancient World was All Silence; 23 September 2010) video at the Kennedy Center
Images: © Intangible Arts