lucio menegon | music•noise•art

Nightsoil, finally

The Overdub Club is proud to announce the completion of the HD video version of Nightsoil. We have worked long and hard to bring this former performance piece to a place where it can be screened. The premier is slated for Sept 30 at the The Exploratorium in San Francisco.

Nightsoil is a single channel video by filmmakers Thad Povey and Alfonso Alvarez with music by Lucio Menegon, collectively known as The Overdub Club. Derived from a triple projection, live performance piece, Nightsoil utilizes found footage that has been physically reconstituted using hand-processing, tinting, and other hands-on filmic techniques and features a powerful new audio score and soundtrack.

Nightsoil is a layered and evocative display of humanity’s ability to create both beauty and destruction, whose title echoes the archeologist investigating abandoned human latrines. Coming at a dramatic time in America’s history and created in the spirit of this zeitgeist, Nightsoil calls out with an appeal to “think what you’re doing” before choosing violence as a solution to humanity’s problems.

The music for Nightsoil was developed in a series of jam sessions where musicians Lucio Menegon and Mark De Gli Antoni improvised over a series of test reels and live presentations, mixing and matching sounds, manipulating and exploring audio textures – taking ideas from the morphing images and giving ideas back to the film-makers – until a dynamic three section composition coalesced. The move from the live presentation format presented a golden opportunity to re-compose and fully arrange and orchestrate the original score. Along with the musical contributions of John Hanes, Suki O’Kane, Jenya Chernoff, Rebecca Seeman, Jonathan Segel and Laurie Amat, a final soundtrack and score emerged that matches the intensity and emotion of the visuals – at times in syncopation with and at other times cutting against the multiple image presentation.

A Crimson Grail redux

After deciding earlier in the year not to be a part of the redux for Rhys Chatham’s A Crimson Grail for 200 guitars at Lincoln Center (was to be on tour and not in NYC), a change in plans and a last minute cancellation allowed me to see this adventure through from last year’s rained out disappointment.

Because of a Prehistoric Horse gig on Wednesday night, I was unable to make the first rehearsal and was hence relegated to repeating last years rather boring Alto 1 part (they are all pretty minimalist easy, but the Alto 1 is particularly so). Rehearsals on Thursday and Friday were very good and I will echo the sentiments of other 2008 veterans that the changes made to the score and group organization/planning were a big improvement. Fridays full rehearsal in the FIT Hall was really stunning and perhaps the peak of the experience. The enclosed environment and excellent acoustics brought out incredible overtones – at times it sounded as if it were hundreds of human voices chanting rather than guitars chiming, interspersed with moments of delicious, wall-shaking volume. Very pretty, yet very powerful. May I present this recording of a section of Part II at Friday’s rehearsal as evidence?

A Crimson Grail Pt II (partial)

Unfortunately, I found the actual performance to be a bit lacking in comparison. The execution did not seem as tight and the open air reduced the resonances that were present at Friday’s rehearsal. The effect was still large, the crowd certainly loved it (standing O) and it is always exhilarating to be appreciated by thousands of people! Couldn’t stick around for Liquid Liquid and the after party though as orchestra colleague, Scrote and I needed to rush off to a gallery gig in Queens right after the piece (more on that in the next blog entry). Overall it was a worthwhile experience – despite the amount of time required and the sometimes over-simplistic direction. But heck, got to play at Lincoln Center, make some connections and hang with some really cool people. Well, that’s alright, mama.

Sonic Demons Press

Music Emissions. This reviewer pretty much nails my intention with Sonic Demons:

“Sonic Demons, at least if the titles represent the intent, is an instrumental exploration of the darkness we invite into us, the demons we flirt with until it is too late to send them packing. This electronic divine comedy is pulled off with grace and grit.”

“Sonic Demons would be intense and impressive without the dark night of the soul motif. With it, it allows Lucio Menegon to let it rip with purpose, a goal of exploration into the uncomfortable. He wins on all counts.” full review

Music Extreme

Experimental guitarist Lucio Menegon shows pure experimentation with sounds on this recording. Going from free jazz up to almost noise or ambient within the same composition, he shows great technical and improvisational skills. On the recording he is joined in some of the tunes by other fellow musicians that interact cleverly with Menegon´s guitar phrases. There is a strong knowledge of intensity and volume here and that is evident in many of the compositions where Menegon goes into a crescendo of sound before exploding at the end of the tune. There are good combinations of sounds with some melodies and phrases that surprise the listener. This is an album for open minded people who are into sound exploration and improvisation.
full review

Downtown Music Gallery NYC Here’s an interesting one from their weekly newsletter (btw, I’m an American citizen by birth):

LUCIO MENEGON – Sonic Demons (Edgetone 4092; USA)
Italian guitarist Lucio Menegon is currently a Bay area-based musician, as well as a friend of local drummer David Grollman, a friend of DMG who shows up almost every week for our in-store performances. Hence these live performances feature most west coast players except for Grollman, Rob Price & Valerie Kuehne. ‘Lucifer’s Meltdown” opens with a solo guitar & loops excursion that on the verge of coming apart as it throbs to an intense ending. “Shrunken Head” features Lucio & Rob Price on guitars & electronics & Dave Grollman on drums. It sounds as if there are layers electronics & static erupting together into a brooding storm. I can’t really hear the drums but the results are scary nonetheless. It is often difficult to tell that Lucio is playing guitar since the electronics and distortion is more prominent than any plucking. On “Gasping for Air” Lucio plays tortured noise guitar fractures with intense drumming of Laurie Arnat. Lucio inserts four solo guitar and/or electronics pieces in between the small group improvs and each one is different, sometimes twisting the feedback or noise sounds inside out. Each piece is quite effective yet occasionally disturbing. Overall there are some impressive bouts of well selected noise segments and it all fits together. – Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

Paper Cuts Magazine Sept 2010 issue
LUCIO MENEGON – Sonic Demons (Edgetone 4092; USA)

It’s hard sometimes to listen to instrumental music and not create movies or stories in your head. For me that’s often the best part. Lucio Menegon’s album “Sonic Demons” does the work for you by providing a short story in conjunction with the music. I’ll let you discover the story on your own as I don’t want to ruin it, but with or without this strange backdrop the album is a beautifully executed collection of free-jazz-ish-noise and ambient pieces that can take the listener to many unusual places.

Menegon performs on all the tracks here with his ability to mix effected guitar with electronic and atmospheric sound elements to create a unique aural picture. Sounds range from spacey layered guitars as in the opening piece “Lucifer’s Meltdown” to harsher improvisations with enough squeaks and screeching to satisfy any noise fan as on the track “Shrunken Head”. Additional yummy layers of interest added by a fun vocal piece with Laurie Amat (The Residents), Jonathan Segel (Camper Van Beethoven), the fantastic drumming of David Grollman, John Hanes, and others. “Sonic Demons” has a bit of something for anyone with open ears and is certainly worth checking out and creating some fantastic dream-movies to. In the Sept 2010 issue of full review

Sea of Tranquility:

Lucio Menegon is an experimental artist, guitar player and some sort of electronics wiz. He gathered a bunch of guest artists to add “improvisational” elements to his journey.

This type of “music” is a bit hard to appreciate and is not for everybody, neither is it the thing you’ll most likely spin at any time. I found the compositions mostly cohesive in their own experimental way. Off course improvised parts came into play to bring touches of surprises and variation. Some of this music carries an ambient feel, while other parts are more psychedelic or even totally hectic. I can feel inspiration coming from bands of the seventies like: Egg, King Crimson and the Mothers of Invention. I can hear Dave Stewart going nuts over the tone generator in a few instances, such as on ” Shrunken Head” and “Experiments with the Force”. Ian Underwood seems to be “wipping it all” on the sax in “Shrunken Head”, while the hectic drumming of the Mothers is quite present on: “Resident Tourette” and “Killing Green”. Lucio’s guitar playing is pretty un-orthodox too. He deliberately de-tunes his guitar in some way unknown to me, in a number of places. Examples of this could be heard on “The Debigulator” and “Vulcan’s Wish”. My personal favorite tunes are: “Lucifer’s Melt Down: (dark/psychedelic) , as well as tracks 10 to 12, namely “Vulcan’s Wish”, ” Scattered Brain” and “Sonic Demons”.

Prehistoric Horse Tour Wrap

Prehistoric Horse plays a very intense and dynamic form of improvisational music that sometimes borders on sheer noise but also incorporates the dramatic and absurd. Our sets morphed with the miles logged and the tenor and pacing changed dramatically from the first chaotic show in Albany CA to the final mellow moments in NYC. There were many good shows on our 13 gig cross-country run with Oakland, Seattle, Minneapolis and New York being particular highlights.

Since my last post in Madison, we played Louisville, KY (where I managed to leave the power supply to my laptop – thanks to Mateo for mailing it back), Pittsburgh, Toronto, Baltimore and NYC. The lack of laptop partially explains the drop off in the tour blog, but in truth, the last few shows were difficult, involved much driving and were not necessarily inspired. The NYC show was the exception, so I will wrap up a brief description of it.

The gig was in hipster Williamsburg at a place called Monkeytown, a space that boasts four walls of projected imagery, with musicians in the middle and comfy low-rise couches behind spartan japanese style tables on the perimeter. In response to said surroundings and perhaps inspired by a terrific quartet improvisation featuring cellist Okkyung Lee, we upped our game (New York does that to you) and performed a rather ‘cinematic’ set, quite different from others we have done before. David used a stripped down percussion setup and the overall tone was much less frenetic, with more melody and ‘playing’ from Valerie and I. The audience seemed to appreciate it and despite some of the usual second guessing, this feeling was verified a few days later when a gent stopped me in the street to favorably comment on the performance 🙂

Below are some links to videos, pics and audio. Plans are afoot for more shows/tours in the next year. Enjoy.

Here is a particularly interesting section of improv from Toronto, Canada. A gig with the dubious distinction of having ‘not a soul in attendance.’

photo slideshow

more to come…