Asheville Electro-Musical Festival is an electrifying experience
Asheville and the Swannanoa Valley are home to an intensely innovative electronic music scene, in part because synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog settled there in the late 1970s.
Asheville is home to the Moog Music workshop, the Moog Foundation and modular synth manufacturer Make Noise as well as a host of creative users of the technology.
It’s also now the home to Greg Walzer, an prime organizer of New York’s Electro-Music Festival. He and his wife, Hong, moved to Asheville in 2011, and not only spearhead the offshoot Asheville Electro-Music Festival but also provide digital art projections to accompany the music.
At their invitation, an innovative array of sonic styles and aesthetic outlooks will converge on White Horse Black Mountain on Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 starting at 2 p.m. each day and lasting late into the night. More than 20 electronic and experimental musicians will share their visionary soundscapes at the two-day festival, accompanied by live video art and interspersed with seminars.
Given the panoply of styles and subgenres that shelter under the electromusic umbrella, the festival website offers this description: “Electro music is made with synthesizers, homemade circuits, computers, found objects, voices, signal processors, wooden flutes, ambient recordings, and virtually anything imaginable that makes sound - even conventional orchestras. It can be slow and spacey, or fast and rhythmic; it crosses many genres. The primary motivation for its creation is artistic and spiritual expression, not show business.”
Sound sources at the festival range from acoustic instruments to computers. Atlanta resident Klimchak makes and plays a broad array of unusual percussive and nonpercussive instruments to layer his “fiendishly fun” compositions. Other composers work strictly in the virtual realm, with all sounds and sometimes even compositional parameters generated electronically.
There are even nods to nostalgia, like Surreal Estate’s “old Berlin style” music. At the other end of the spectrum, Paul Harriman plays the Eigenharp, a digital controller that has existed only since 2009 and whose parameters are still being charted.
Schedules and a list of performers are at emavl.com.