So, again – and I know I say this as if I’ve just figured it out for the first time, but I believe that this is something always worth reinscribing – one of the magnificent things about living in one of Earth’s great cities is that there’s something on just about every single night of the week, no matter what or how obscure your taste.
Any serious metropolitan area is such an almighty catchment basin for talent and interest that the odds of finding something you’ll like are in your favor, and this is true even if your predilections run to “difficult” media. I really cherish spaces dedicated to such minor tastes, which always share a certain common otaku vibe, no matter how institutionally serious they are, no matter what city they happen to be rooted in.
In New York, this means venues like Printed Matter, Storefront for Art and Architecture, Anthology Film Archives, or the late, much-lamented Tonic at the more institutional end of the scale, and sundry others still more grassrootsy and nomadic.
The space we went to last night was definitely one of the latter. Issue Project Room, relocated in the relatively recent past to a former factory building in lovely Gowanus, is basically a single blind room deeper and taller than it is wide, roofed with craquelured old beams, provisioned with a grid of suspended speakers, and lit (for performance, anyway) solely by flickering candlelight: the ideal environment for an evening of immersive minimal music.
This is head music, to be honest. What you would have seen, had you poked your head through Issue’s front door around quarter to midnight, was thirty-odd people sitting or lying on the floor, journeying inside themselves with nary a booty shaking. This is clearly not to everybody’s liking on a
Saturday Friday night, but it suited us to a T.
My own clear favorite of the three acts on the bill was Brooklynite James Elliott, performing under the name Ateleia. If you can imagine a region of sound roughly described by a less evil Scorn, a heavier My Bloody Valentine, and a Growing with actual beats, well, somewhere in there is where you’ll find Ateleia.
All of which implies, correctly, that Elliot’s music is something that you really have to experience live to get the full impact; as with Growing, we snapped up the discs he had on offer, and found on getting home that even a decent sound system did the music no justice. (Both technically and because I do try to be a good neighbor, I just couldn’t push things Heavy enough.)
It’s being able to act on that imperative to witness the live and unmediated performance that makes me so grateful to live in a place that supports spaces like Issue – and, of course, so acutely concerned that the economics of real estate are making it more and more difficult for places like this to survive in New York. They’re the true laboratories, playgrounds and test sites of creativity – and any city deserving of the name had damn well better make sure it can provide for them, lest it become a net consumer of culture, rather than a producer.