What: Yao Guai, Dave Mead, Kurt Bauer, and Steve Gordon, with artist Anthony Moulton
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Absolute Vinyl Records and Stereo, 5356 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 303-955-1519
Cost: free, requested donation
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Maybe you haven’t noticed yet, but there’s a whole lot of cool music going on at the new Absolute Vinyl location. This Friday, owner Doug Gaddy is hosting musicians including David Mead and Kurt Bauer, along with artist Anthony Moulton, for somewhat unusual show. They’re going to be improvising off of each other — the musicians playing from the paintings and the artist painting based on the music. This sort of thing can be a recipe for awkwardness, but Mead, Bauer, and Moulton are all good enough to make the evening interesting. In fact, Mead has done this sort of thing before, most notably two years ago when he and a 50-piece band improvised on a series of sculptures in Denver’s Botanic Garden. We caught up with Mead and Moulton to find out what’s in store.
You collaborate with a lot of local musicians. What have your most recent projects been?
I play a lot in the improvised and avant-garde scene around town, which goes from being in noise bands all the way through world music and drone and jazz and all that. I’ve got a band right now that’s getting a lot of play, called Echo Beds, our music is somewhere between Throbbing Gristle and Wolf Eyes, something like that. It’s in the harsh industrial vein. We’re going to South by Southwest in March and then we’re hoping, if we have enough money, in May or April the Midwest and eventually New York and then to the south and make it a two-week tour. And I’ve been playing in a band called Aenka in the past two years, and that’s got a lot of great people in the avant-garde scene around town … It’s a free jazz creative kind of group that adds and subtracts members at will. Kurt [Bauer] and I are both involved in a really large band called Super Secret Messengers. That is sometimes as little as five people, and we’ve had shows sometimes up to about 50 people.
What’s your approach to this Friday’s show?
I was offering for us to do some kind of improv to a painting just based on the color and shapes and stuff in the painting, but I also asked Doug [Gaddy] if the painter wouldn’t mind doing a live painting to what we were playing. So if he’s interested in doing live painting, I think he might come with a canvas and do something with us. And we’ve done this in the past. I don’t have a problem going up to a painting and improvising … We’ll set our stuff up so we’re facing one of the pieces and interpret it and do the song.
How do you think about the connection between visual, still art and music?
I don’t know if it’s something that would be definable as the same for everybody. But I know, for instance, when I close my eyes and see music, if it’s really splattery music and it’s really loud, I see a lot of colors that don’t have a defined shape. And some things I see so clearly, they’re like building blocks — like Duke Ellington or something. There’s structure if you listen to Stravinsky. And some things have a sphere shape or a box shape and they’re repeated in a basic pattern and it becomes like a building block. There’s always some kind of visual shape if you yourself can relax, and that’s something for me as an improviser, I play with my eyes closed.
Have you ever painted based on music before?
You know, I have because I am an artist and I do paint to music, but never live music, so that’s what makes it exciting. I’m excited I’m actually doing some freeform painting with freeform music.
Do you have a game plan?
Well, you know, you kind of have to have a game plan in your mind, but the fact is, that what’s going to happen, is going to happen. It’s going to be very experimental.
Have you listened to their music to try to prepare?
No I haven’t. Frankly, I’m keeping it open to the air. I want to be surprised.
What kind of music do you think they’ll create from your work?
Everyone’s going to have a good time. It’s not going to be stuffy. It’s going to be an event. I think what I want people in Boulder to kind of understand is contemporary art isn’t for the stuffy, it’s for everyone. Everyone can do it. Some people just happen to have more fun doing it. You can see that the art is pretty much real powerful freeform. So I mean, you can go any direction. I mean, my paintings are non-objectionable, so you can really get what you want out of it. I’m not trying to impose, it just comes out of my fingertips.