Society tends to explore music at a surface-level, focusing on the listenability and melodic components of the art rather than the artistic expression and genuine craft behind each bar of music.
In Pawtucket, an exploration of sound will come alive on Saturday, August 20, when the DOT AIR experimental music festival lands with a roster of its most eclectic lineup, including everything from improv vocalization to psychoacoustic percussions and every other musical genre you probably never knew existed.
DOT AIR’s roots are in its inaugural iteration in 2014 with its mission to “explore sound, art and performance in ways that push boundaries and utilize creative spaces that are constructed or left behind by modern and post-modern technology and culture.”
Deterring from the norm of traditional music festivals, DOT AIR structures its yearly lineup not around the most popular musicians, but around those performers who add a sort of eclecticism and best exemplify the foundation of sonic architecture and its stability over the past century.
Since its inception, the festival has hosted 29 musicians as well as various film and art installations, and this year, DOT AIR hosts more than 10 more musicians that all have their own stake in the realm of noise-centered music.
Headlining the festivities will be the prolific Hailu Mergia, the Ethiopian instrumentalist who merges modern technology and classical instrumentation to rise above his dictatorial past under the Mengistu Regime. Just imagine if the Sun Ra Arkestra went electronic and toned down on the psychedelics (but not too much) and poof, you have Mergia’s smooth stylings.
The undercard of DOT AIR is just as commendable as the headliner, with a wide array of genre bending and unique improvisation.
MEMi, a husband and wife duo out of LA, mixes the elegant melodies of their cellos with modern DIY technology to create one of the most original sounds that certainly deserves anyone’s ears at the festival.
However, the pinnacle of noise music transcends with the sounds of Providence-based, WORK/DEATH. I’ve been following Scott Reber for the past year as he’s explored new avenues with noise music and WORK/DEATH’s material is paving the way for a noise music renaissance in Rhode Island.
Other notable musicians are trumpeter Forber Graham, composer and percussionist Sarah Hennies and guitar duo F/I/P.
If you count yourself a fan of the visual arts, DOT AIR has you covered with a roster of experimental architects and painters as well as dancers, including the supremely talented Elm City Dance Collective and one of the most adept modern artists in Providence, Alex Hamrick, who incorporates text-based content into his artistic vision.
With technology progressing at breakneck speeds during the 21st century, DOT AIR aims to showcase the dynamic strides that this technological revolution has had in the domains of the visual and performing arts. Though as we dive further into this era ruled by technology, we must ultimately remember to use this technology to our advantage and hopefully not create Skynet in the meantime.