Curator's notes: Kyle Landstra and Page Campbell
Our first season of GateSound concludes December 8.
Chicago musician Kyle Landstra's electronic compositions tend to need a lot of space and time. These are extended, nuanced pieces that work along a line between stillness and movement, using a lot of both as Landstra marshals together expansive harmonies and flickering melodies from multiple synths. Landstra usually accomplishes all this with a "live" approach and no overdubs. On December 8 at the Gates of Heaven, he'll be sharing a new, extended piece prepared specially for the space, closing out the year's final GateSound concert.
My starting point with Landstra's music is an admittedly recent one: 2014's Dream Array. For most of the piece, Landstra gradually builds up gentle, sparse phrases and ambient pads, but it's clear there's no intent here to simply create a droning soundscape. As the piece immerses you, it's also constantly prodding and evolving, though on a stretched-out time scale. The final movement of Dream Array lets fly with sparkling, arpeggiated melodies, which feel not like a dynamic shift but like a natural, if exuberant, evolution of everything that's come before in the piece.
This year's Jeweled Moon Codex starts out on a more somber note. But it creates its emotional imprint in a similar manner: patient, measured, and thorough, creating an atmosphere in which one or two slowly modulated notes can make a bigger point.
Opening up the show is Page Campbell, a Madison-based guitarist, singer, and songwriter who first established herself in Athens, Georgia, playing a lead role in the folk duo Hope For A Goldensummer and art-pop outfit Dream Boat.Her solo-acoustic set here will feature songs from both Dream Boat and Agoldensummer .She's also played in Patterson Hood's solo band and toured as a member of Dark Meat, and scored the 2016 independent film Henry Gamble's Birthday Party.
On Dream Boat's most recent release, 2014's The Rose Explodes, Campbell and bandmate Daniel Donahue flesh out their songs with pillowy synths and layers of harmonized, reverb-heavy vocals. But these are songs that would hold up with all of those sonic layers stripped away. In fact, before I ever heard Dream Boat, I saw Page play a solo set, paring the originals (and a couple of great covers, including Aaliyaha's "Are You That Somebody") back to subtle acoustic guitar and a richly aching voice.
I hope you'll join us at the Gates for this pairing of the acoustic and the electronic. I'd also like to thank everyone who has made the series a success so far this year, especially co-curator Rob Lundberg for really giving it the start it needed by booking all of the headliners who've played so far. We're working on next year's shows and will have some details to share before the year is out.
Additionally, some of the proceeds from the December 8 show will benefit the Anti-Defamation League. We're concerned about the resurgence of hate-group activity in the United States, and we wouldn't have this venue if not for the efforts of generations of Jewish people in Madison to build and preserve it.