Saul Stokes and Charles Cohen
Saturday, December 12th, 1998 at St. Mary's Church, Penn Campus
Charles Cohen and Mike Hopkins opened the evening. Their sound was a fascinating mix of old and new. The bleeps and blorps of the old Buchla analog synthesizers were enhanced by modern reverbs and other processing. The middle of their set was driven by the uniquely gentle percussive sounds of the old Buchla that has distinguished Charles' compositions in
the past. Another feature of the Buchla is it's ability to accept external modulation. At the 'Stupid Robot' show in January Charles used an AM radio as a source. This evening though, he appeared to use samples from a MAC laptop. Next the synths were made to both thunder and screech. Lastly the duo brought us down with earthly, gentle washes and cricket like
sounds combined with a deep voice sample heavily reverbed.
Saul Stokes performance was best described as intense, evolving drones. The bulk of his equipment is hand made, so I had no idea how it really worked. Observing the performance did give me some clues, however. Central to the rig was some kind of random voltage generator that both controlled 'note' generation and accepted external control. Some of that control was provided by another box that had purple lights going in a continual chase sequence. These visual oddities only added to the performance. There were no visible labels on the home made modules, making Saul's creative process all the more mysterious. Saul's drones
had a metallic sheen to them, but in no way were harsh. Hand triggered drum sounds were added here and there, too.
Later the three musicians joined in an improvised jam. Old and new sounds were blended in a fascinating mix. Charles and Mike layered more processed Buchla sounds over Saul's drones. I couldn't tell what else Saul was doing, but he must have had extra sounds going because the
layering got quite thick in the middle. Saul ended the jam with a deep space randomly repeating waveform. I felt like I was listening to a quasar from far away.
Saul is a recent relocate from the west coast and we look forward to his next perfomance. Maybe the next Stupid Robot?
Review by Andrew Wing
December 17th, 1998
Comments by "Bill" of Bridgeton, NJ
December 19, 1998
Visit The Charles Cohen webpage at: www.starsend.org/ccohen.html