Arma Agharta – Touring the US Pt. 1

I doubt that if you’re somehow involved or really following what’s happening on the European experimental music scene could have missed the charming personna of Arma Agharta. A sound artist, performer and curator from Vilnius, Lithuania, whose activity in all the fore-mentioned fields is equally enviable. Arma has recently finished a US tour, which according to himself has had a huge impact on his person, both as an artist and as a human. In order to shed some light on that fascinating man we’ll be reposting his stories, because seriously, who doesn’t love a good dismemberment… ermm… a good tour diary, I meant. In the meanwhile you can catch up on all Arma’s doing by following his updates on arma.lt.

Arma @ Venclovu namai-muziejus

In a few parts of the report I will write the main thoughts and discoveries, while the untold part will stay more in the level of feelings, which are not easy to describe. Although North America had a really really big impact on me it’s a another world, which at first wasn’t really easy to accept. However, quite soon it became a pleasant place to be.

Firstly I want to thank the main person to help me arrange this – Robert, from PAS Musique. Without him all that wouldn’t happen. Our friendship began in 2011 when I organized concerts for his band in Lithuania. And this time he invited me to his annual experimental music and film festival named “ExperiMENTAL” #6, based in New York.

So, my first tour show was during this festival, but before that I had a few days to adapt to the new time, which was very hard. I’ve never experienced such a jet-lag! It took me 5-6 days to recover. Brooklyn felt chilled, especially the place where I stayed, but Manhattan is crazy. That constant flow of people, those tall buildings, traffic, rap music… completely crazy atmosphere, but somehow I liked it! And I already miss it. I wasn’t in places I shouldn’t be, and overall can’t say that I saw much of the city, but that was enough to be excited and to want to come back.

So, the festival (which lasts 5 days – September 25-29th) started in a venue called “Spectrum” situated in Manhattan. The first day didn’t impress me much, it was ambient / improv / no wave music evening, a sitting concert.

The second one was way better. The other venue “Silent Barn” based in Brooklyn, looked like more a party place, so the atmosphere was easier. The next three days of the festival also happened there. Although I missed the amount of people I’m used to seeing on the festivals in Lithuania, I understand, there’s so much happening in NY that makes it hard with the attendance. This is why Robert tries to mix the scenes, so that artists from different circles invite their friends. This is why the whole festival is so ecelctic and I really liked that mix of experimental – noise – psych rock – jazz – breakcore – improv – ambient – drone – dance music etc.

The main discovery of this night was Borts Minorts, kind of a new thing for me – highly energetic, extremely acrobatic and fun show! Here’s a short clip from their performance that night:

The other act that caught my eyes/ears was The Use. It’s Michael from Pas Musique on electronix, synths and theremin. As he claims, it’s electronic glitc hop, idm, psych pop.

SIS – were three girls, two made kind of dance performance and the other one music and voice. It was beautiful, atmospheric, modern, kind of very actual type of electronic music, but not banal or very trendy looking. And the voice was charming. No suprise big companies are already interested in this project:

The third night was mostly noise orientated. And so I played too. Bob Bellerue aka Half Normal was the one who I really enjoyed with his guitar-based noise, contact mics, voice and amps. Solid, serious, quite slow, but effective noise. Bob is the main guy of the well known End Thymes festival. Here’s a video of his full performance:

The fourth night had more guitars and drums, which I kind of missed in the previous two nights. I mostly enjoyed Big Plastic Finger and Din Machine. Big Plastic Finger (what a name!) as a band looked a little weird, but the sound was good. Spaced out psych rock avant jazz. Din Machine was more jazzy, fusion, in general they felt more musical. More notes to my ears was good for that time.

The last night was films. Experimental short movies. Was good to relax after seeing 7-8 acts of music every single night. Overall the festival was well organized. I really wished it would get a bigger crowd and more feedback, although I know the organizers are satisfied with this edition. Also I think that it could be shorter than 5 days and maybe have less performing acts, as it’s really hard to hear and experience them all. Especially when you really don’t want to miss any. So, anyway, this festival was a really good introduction to (mainly) the New York scene and yeah, it’s so huge. I believe next year they won’t have a less interesting programm.

Visit fest web here: http://emfmusic.com

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