Volume 7 of the Mugen Series presents live sessions from Fluxbikes (Rob Frye) and Quidditas (Raleigh Booze), two artists that meld the transporting effects of drone and noise with primal percussion performance.
Rob Frye’s saxophone, flute, and drums charge the music of Chicago-based psych/kraut ensembles Bitchin Bajas and CAVE with the manic energy and mutated “classical” sensibilities of Steve Reich and/or Sun Ra. Solo as Fluxbikes, Frye layers his multi-instrumental output alongside a sonic element that could, in less competent hands, come off as a gimmick: rhythms performed using bicycle wheels as percussion. The wheels clatter and pop with a timbre something like a steel drum, as Frye’s West African-inspired rhythms spin out in self-consuming patterns of transfixing repetition. On his live session for the Mugen Series, Frye exploited the low tonal buzz of a broken portable cassette deck, harnessing it as the root note for an all-encompassing drone. “Driftless” blasts its sound source through effects and loop pedals into a time-slowing wall of sound streaked with filter sweeps, subtle phasing effects, and resonant bass swells. As we sink into a trance across minutes of La Monte Young-like pure tone bliss, Frye punctuates the atmosphere with bike tire beats, elevating the performance into a polyrhythmic ritual fit for a solitary bonfire meditation out under the stars.
Under the Quidditas moniker, Philadelphia-based multi-instrumentalist Raleigh Booze has released a growing catalog of tapes that testify to his singular drive as a percussionist and his uncompromising noise artistry. In live performance, Booze stands at his stripped down drum kit above a rig of pedals and oscillators, bruising the skins with forceful strikes as he toggles switches and manipulates knobs with his feet. His maximal sessions possess the scorched static detonations of harsh noise, the grim resolution of one-man black metal, and the incessant tom battery of Bullhead-era Melvins. “Reawakening,” his session for the Mugen Series, stretches across 20 minutes of non-stop aggression, flitting from tribal beats peppered with cymbal crashes, to passages of his demonic squelching oscillator (named Total Destruction, as it were) wailing into the void, to eerie crawls through more ethereal atmospheres of effected drum bursts and lo-fi hiss. Booze’s live session exceeds the sum of its savage parts as a showcase of extreme multi-tasking via octopus-like limb control and audience-alienating (or enthralling) command of his squalling sound sources.