By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
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By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
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Fibonaccis keyboardist and longtime friend John Dentino remembers a range of Grady presentations: “The most effective have been the ones with either shadow-puppet theater or films. The films he made with Keith Barefoot, accompanied by an ensemble playing his instruments, were often beautiful and perplexing.”
Grady’s half-smile and stooping, prayerlike posture conveyed a gentle intelligence, but his intense eyes and occasional bursts of hostility made him hard to read.
Dentino would needle him about his behavior: “I used to joke, ‘You got any pot, Grady?’ One night, he finally yanked me in front of his face and yelled, ‘No, I don’t have any pot. Why do you think I‘m such a pothead? WHYYY?’”
Though Grady has settled down quite a bit personally, his gig schedule is even more erratic than it used to be. At the moment, he‘s in the middle of a long hiatus (“I hate playing around the holidays”) before a couple of May shadow-play performances at Silver Lake’s Holly Matter art gallery.
One recent date finds him at the Sound Compound, a music series in a downtown art gallery where tonight the walls are covered with photo-collages of war atrocities. Out the front door, you can smell an exposed sewer line. Toxic solvent has been spilled in the back alley.
The guitar-tuba-electronics group Equinox has improvised atmospheric noise at some length, and the audience, not aware there‘s more, starts to drift. But Grady and his ensemble have been prepared for a long time already, their instruments (mistaken by attendees for art) set up in a wide area away from the stage. So they begin.
Grady and two cohorts (no visual aids tonight) stand at his marimbas, while perennial collaborator Erin Barnes commands the pump organ -- all tuned to a Grady microtonal scale. The organ drones while the marimba players improvise sparsely, using first mallets then violin bows, around a sequence of notes Grady has scored.
The music is chimy and peaceful, but the overtones gradually build, distort, beat against each other and ring, sometimes moving around the space stereophonically. After a while, it sounds like it’s not out there at all, but actually inside your head. Most of the audience are not listening: sitting on the floor, talking loudly about relatives‘ impending visits.
Without notice, the quartet move to the Meru bars -- several large metal plates, each suspended atop a wooden column about 4 feet high, tunable by moving a stopper inside the column and named after the holy Mount Meru of Tanzania, and also after a mathematical relationship first noticed 4,000 years ago in India. Louder than the marimbas, they fill the whole gallery with massagelike reverberations.
So the conversationalists have to shut up. They even seem a little stunned. Or entranced.
The author of this story is at home writing about Kraig Grady and listening to Anaphoria: The Creation of the Worlds. His wife, an attorney, calls from work. She’s been dealing with indescribable assholes all week. She begins to vent. Then she stops. “I feel the tension flowing out of me,” she says. “What‘s that you’re listening to?”
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