C. Spencer Yeh & Jessica Rylan — Images via flickr.com/photos/non-event & flickr.com/photos/rarefrequency

C. Spencer Yeh & Jessica Rylan

Crow With No Mouth Concert Series

I can’t claim to be a connoisseur of noise music, but I’ve listened to enough of it to know that, in the best examples of the genre, the seeming randomness of indeterminately generated noise operates in the service of an underlying structure and direction. Such was the case in Saturday’s installment in the always-adventurous Crow With No Mouth concert series, which turned over the floor of Saint Paul’s Studio Z to musicians C. Spencer Yeh, a prolific solo artist and director of the project Burning Star Core; and Jessica Rylan, who also performs as Can’t.

First up was Rylan with a long piece performed on one of her custom-built modular analog synthesizers. The piece began with a slowly developing drone punctuated by subtle beat patterns. Eventually, noisier elements made their way into the mix, with waves of aggressive electronic sound generating jerky rhythms under the surface. After a climactic section into which Rylan injected some ambiguous vocals, the piece ended with a brief coda of quieter and sparser sounds.

Yeh’s set was made up of two very different pieces. The first and longer started off with sounds reminiscent of clopping hooves that formed themselves into dense polyrhythms, eventually becoming the base on which Yeh layered a variety of other sounds. The second and more confrontational piece was made up entirely of the sound of the artist’s vibrating lips, both recorded and live, ending when it seemed that Yeh could not continue this taxing sort of performance any longer.

What Rylan’s and Yeh’s pieces had in common was a certain spaciousness that, even at the noisiest and busiest moments, gave listeners room to process what they were hearing rather than merely allowing themselves to be overwhelmed. That is not to say that these pieces could only be appreciated intellectually; they definitely acted on the body, and I wondered more than once why people don’t dance at these concerts. (Admittedly, Yeh’s vibrating-lips piece would not have been very danceable.) In any case, this was music worth hearing that rewarded close attention, and Crow With No Mouth can chalk up another success in bringing these artists to the Twin Cities.

Photos by Susanna Bolle

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Eric Prindle

administers Bad Entertainment. He is also an attorney who leads a team of legal marketing copywriters at FindLaw. He is not Eric Prindle, the mixed martial arts fighter.