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Bondage and Multidiscipline

{mosimage} Used to be you could sneak into an art gallery or a museum or a car wash and seldom worry your head about eye things colliding with ear things. Huh. Well, our whole brave world is e-volving into a surround-sound cinespectickle, and it’s about damn time. Last year, MOCA had that history-packed “Visual Music” exhibit; REDCAT hosted some terrorizing audio-visual artists; Dave Douglas was re-zooming Fatty Arbuckle silent films with his electro-acoustic jazz. And a couple of weeks ago, the Weekly’s Doug Harvey wrote about the ways newly commissioned music paints the flaking plaster of our Natural History Museum’s dioramas.

Ain’t nothing new to Steve Roden, who’s been mixing stuff up for ages. He’s a sampling/electronic sound artist. He’s a painter and a sculptor. He binds his disciplines together in installations worldwide. And this Sunday, he and cohorts offer a solid excuse to ditch the televised Oscars carnival and consider something more cinematically exciting (c’est possible?) than the glory of gowns. Yo, TiVo the awards.

What’s going on is a spontaneous soundtrack to the 1918 Maurice Tourneur film The Blue Bird, which is based on a Maurice Maeterlinck children’s allegory and draws visually upon “imagination” (a faculty filmmakers sometimes employed before it was rendered obsolete by modern special effects). The sound folk are appropriate to the task. Roden’s visual background makes him an obvious pick. His brother Jeffrey Roden is an electric bassist with a minimalist bent — no Stanley Clarke gymnastics will distract. On microtonal metallophone, Kraig Grady has logged many an hour inventing stately ancient sounds to accompany Asian-influenced puppet theater. Loren Chasse is a vet in the field of “sonic hiking” who’s made space/sound interaction his obsession. Jacob Danziger is a violinist who knows from ambiance, as does Rh Band’s Damon Cleckler. The gang’s soundtrack to The Bells (sans Cleckler) came off so sparklingly last Halloween that they felt they had to revisit the concept. So here they are.

Sound like too many musicians? Maybe, if they weren’t these musicians, who fully understand the value of a single note’s attack and decay. And yes, it’s a non-musical venue, so you’re probably remembering occasions when some art gallery’s frigid environs slaughtered sound that should’ve flowed with mammalian warmth. I’ve seen Steve Roden and Kraig Grady triumph in similar circumstances, though — this is what they do. The only obstacle is our own feeble minds, and I figure if we can drive and listen to the Eagles at the same time, we can pull this off, too.

The Blue Bird screens at Otis College of Art and Design, 9045 Lincoln Blvd.; Sun., March 5, 7 p.m. (310) 665-6905 or http://otis.edu.

Steve Roden also has a show, “Lines and Spaces,” featuring his paintings, drawings, sculpture, sound and film, at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, 5795 Washington Blvd., Culver City; through April 1. (323) 933-2117.

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