‘Electro’ festival turns up the voltage


Tribal ambient, chaotic meditation, multidimensional polymorphic expressionism - the artists’ own descriptions of the music hint at the incredible diversity of sounds to be heard at the Asheville Electro-Music Festival at White Horse Black Mountain on Friday-Saturday, May 5-6.

Starting at 2 p.m. each day and lasting late into night, the festival convenes more than 20 electronic and experimental musicians sharing their visionary soundscapes. Accompanying them will be live video art. There will also be seminars.

“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,” the festival’s website states. “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.”

Atlanta musician Kevin Spears, for example, starts with an ancient instrument, the African thumb piano, and using effects and loops builds up massive dance grooves. Fellow Atlantan Klimchak makes and plays a huge array of unusual percussive and nonpercussive instruments to layer what he calls “fiendishly fun” compositions.

Other composers work strictly in the virtual realm, with all sounds and sometimes even compositional techniques generated electronically. There are even nods to nostalgia, like Tenderlash’s retro synth pop and 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.

Adventurous listeners can expect the unexpected and even the previously unimagined. A full list of the performers can be found at whitehorseblackmountain.com.

Feel the vibe

What: Asheville Electro-Music Festival

When: 2 p.m. May 6-7

Where: White Horse Black Mountain

Cost: $25 two-day pass, $15 single-day ticket