The first time I saw Hentai Improvising Orchestra was on a sunny Saturday afternoon in the late aughts, out behind Doc’s Records & Vintage’s original location on Montgomery Street. The experience was very church-like. The stage was arrayed with instruments, electronic and acoustic, mass produced and homemade, and while some of the musicians played just one instrument at a time, others hopped from instrument to instrument, the resulting stylized racket almost as transfixing as the intensely focused musicians creating it. For a kid who grew up Roman Catholic, the show was challenging but cathartic. Like high-noon mass.
Hentai is no more, but there is Momentary Gamelan Ensemble, the mostly improvisatory sonic-art duo of Stone Machine Electric drummer Mark Kitchens (percussion, electronic and homemade instruments) and Hentai co-founder Terry Horn (electric zither; laptop; ukulele; tape recorders; toy, electronic, and homemade instruments), with occasional guests. Along with Breaking Light, a.k.a. ambient guitarist Kavin Allenson, MGE will perform at Shipping & Receiving (201 S. Calhoun St., 817-887-9313) on, of course, Sunday night. By that time, the blood that will have accumulated in your lower body parts over the hard-rocking weekend will be able to flow freely back into your brain.
And you’re gonna need your noodle, because MGE is some seriously heady stuff. Whereas HIO’s compositions consisted mostly of dissonant, apparently unrelated bleeps, bangs, and bloops, MGE’s music is all about mood, and that mood is dark, foreboding, and borderline evil. On Highly Infrequent Omens, Apparitions, and Extra Terrestrials, MGE’s debut album produced at Eagle Audio Recording by Britt Robisheaux (The Theater Fire, Drug Mountain, Bludded Head), some parts are the audial equivalents of tripping the event horizon of a black hole: loud, swirling, and alternately black and colorful. Other parts may frighten you into thinking a gigantic, growling digitized beast is about to jump out of your earphones and swallow you whole.
The music indeed lends itself to imagery, and as HIO did in the past, Momentary Gamelan Ensemble works frequently with Denton’s Big Rig Dance Collective. The musicians recently accompanied the dancers in a performance at the Marty Leonard Chapel and will join them next year at Texas A&M University in a MGE/Big Rig piece that premiered at a new media festival in Tulsa earlier this year.
Momentary Gamelan Ensemble also holds a monthly residency at The Cellar (2916 W. Berry St., 817-923-6116) on, yep, Sunday nights.
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