Feel it. Set your body on ‘vibrate’ at ambient bass-guitar concert 1


I’m up for a bath. Any kind of bath — I’m dirty!!! But an ‘ambient soundbath’ particularly rings my chime. That’s what’s on offer at bassist and electronic producer John von Seggern‘s immersive audiovisual experience, a concert held in a structure of fascination on Los Feliz Boulevard — the one that houses the Philosophical Research Society.

The event, Thursday, June 15, celebrates the release of von Seggern’s Ambient Bass Guitar album. The venue, known as the PRS to Los Angeles’s brainy-spiritual hipsters, is the spot for a pre-concert reception with the artist at 7 pm, with sound immersion starting at 8 pm. Esoteric video projections will add the visual element — they are by Steve Nalepa and Branden Sahagun.

From 2014-2020, John von Seggern worked closely with legendary trumpeter and electronic music pioneer Jon Hassell, resulting in the acclaimed 2018 release Listening to Pictures, named in The Guardian as one of the top contemporary-classical releases of that year. For his current album, von Seggern has taken the software setup he created for Hassell and used it on his bass guitar instead, creating a vast universe of transcendent ambient sounds from the five strings of his bass.

“All the sounds you hear are produced in real-time using complex chains of processing and effects, a live dialogue between me, my bass, and my computer. These sounds are made possible by advanced audio technologies, but every note here was played by my very human fingers on metal strings.”

John Von Seggern

The PRS is a venue steeped in esoteric history and lore (a Los Angeles blog named it “One of LA’s “13 Weirdest Things to Do“). It’s the perfect place to vibrate to ambient noise — if you can tune out the traffic sound. The composer promises ‘no edits, no overdubs!’ The audience needs to promise back no cell phones — just body cells set ‘on vibrate.’

John von Seggern, ambient bass guitar | Philosophical Research Society | Thurs, June 15

leave a comment

REVIEW: ‘Rise’: dance film earnestly misses its pointe

Dance · Film · Reviews

The French film En Corps, curiously translated as Rise and presented by Blue Fox Entertainment, is a well-made, earnest, and thoroughly innocuous movie. It will interest anyone who watched Natalie Portman in Black Swan and railed to the heavens, “Why didn’t they cast a real dancer in the role!?” This new film will more than satisfy. Marion Barbeau, who stars, is an esteemed première danseuse with Paris Opera Ballet who has distinguished herself in contemporary works by Ohad Naharin, William Forsythe, Crystal Pite, Hofesh Shechter. As the protagonist Elise, seen in almost every frame, she delivers a naturalness to the text and visually transfixes with her movement and simple gamine beauty. Despite the film’s many strengths–Elise’s newfound friend, Sabrina, played by Souheila Yacoub, who steals supporting scenes with delightful comic energy and Hofesh Shechter’s satisfying moments of choreography on stage and in rehearsal–Rise doesn’t, well, rise to the level it aspires as cinema.

Veteran director Cédric Klapisch and Santiago Amigorena’s script opens with a promising wordless fifteen minutes. We are offered a closeup off and on the stage of La Bayadère. In performance, we witness a romantic rupture and the subsequent inciting incident of Elise’s injury that propels her on a physical and spiritual quest for a second career and new life. We follow Elise as she visits surgeons and physical therapists and finds work as a caterer to pay her bills. There are moments of social commentary about current social norms and outdated rituals delivered with wit. There’s even a fun discourse, with choreography, on why tutus are ridiculous. If Rise had committed itself to a more biting, even cynical, discussion on present-day schisms between classical and modern, vegan versus viande, politically correct versus long-held values, with its seamless integration of dance, it would expand not only its audience but allow dance to add a unique voice to the cultural conversation.

What we are left with are tropes: working against all odds (Elise is told she may never dance again); unrequited parental and romantic love (Elise’s father unable to say the words “I love you” and her physical therapist’s awkward romantic advances); the wise elder (a Yoda-like figure who uses a cane giving Elise advice); bucolic frolicking on the Brittany coastline (in perfect choreographic bliss after a grueling but relentlessly ecstatic studio rehearsal). It’s refreshing to see artists embrace their world and work. But Rise’s narrative is couched in too many banalities and dramatic roles that unspool in the most predictable manner.

See this film if you want to spend a pleasant two hours with top French dancers as they rehearse, play, strive, love, and dance with a naturalness rare on screen. Rise’s tidy package, alas, pushes it toward cinema un-vérité.

Rise gets two tutus.

Rise | Laemmle Theatres | opens June 2

Stephan Koplowitz is a director/choreographer and the author of On Site-Methods for Site-Specific Performance Creation (Oxford University Press, 2022) by day. By night he’s an avid cinephile.

leave a comment

Jerry Robbins to be remembered on ‘Meaningful Monday’ at cool shul

Dance · Theater
They call it the Actor’s Temple. They also call it the “cool shul.” Both names work for artsmeme! Douglas J. Cohen and Carol Ostrow present an special event celebrating the Broadway career of the Broadway director and choreographer Jerome Robbins;  well as honoring Tony winner actor Jason Alexander on his Broadway debut as director of The Cottage.  It happens as part ...

For the kid in you! Saturdays with Max Fleischer cartoons at The Panorama

The great Polish-American animator Max Fleischer (1883-1972) and his production studios created iconic animations with characters like Betty Boop, Koko the Clown, Felix the Cat, Popeye the Sailorman, Superman and more. In 1926, Fleischer released the first cartoon with synchronized sound, My Old Kentucky Home. His love of jazz led to cartoons (live action & ...

What is Alonzo King’s ‘Deep River’ ?

Dance · Music
It’s a rare circumstance that we in Southern California have two viewing possibilities of an artistic-and-timely, multi-disciplinary work uniting a top-notch dance company with jazz artists, also of the highest caliber. Deep River by the San Francisco-based Alonzo King LINES Ballet features a score by jazz pianist, composer, and MacArthur Fellow Jason Moran, and in ...

At the Three Deuces with Art Tatum

Well, he was a genius. But that didn’t stop the yahoos in the audience from talking and smoking and drinking while he was playing. Here’s a chance to get a front-row seat on the great Art Tatum, as, in all good cheer, he pulverizes a little ditty with his inimitable rollicking harmonic deconstruction. 43/12/5, NYC., ...

Exiled Ukrainian dancers to unite ballet fans in Ratmansky ‘Giselle’ at Segerstrom

In a glorious summer classical-ballet event, a great patron of the arts, Elizabeth Segerstrom, in honoring the centenary of her late husband, Henry T. Segerstrom (1923-2015), Orange County’s peerless titan of business, philanthropy and the arts, is presenting the United Ukrainian Ballet in its West Coast debut at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The four-performance ...

At The Actors’ Gang, watching ‘(Im)migrants of the State,’ in mutual migration

It packs a wallop. So seeing it on a Sunday matinee was a nice way to go. After being intensely swept into a theatricalized showcase created and performed by a compelling chorus of the formerly incarcerated, I felt blessed to walk freely into the late-afternoon sun. It’s (Im)migrants of the State, a workshop-style production at ...

Through the doors of Abbey Road Studios — at The Wallis

Film · Music
Remember the famous shot …? Taken a few seconds after this one? The crosswalk photo of the Beatles crossing in London’s St John’s Wood before their recording session at Abbey Road Studios, in which the image of a barefooted Paul McCartney spawned a crazed conspiracy theory that Paul was dead? And that John Lennon’s subterfuging ...

REVIEW: Paul Taylor repertory a miss in Music Center dance-season opener 2

Dance · Reviews
Who signed off on the venerable Paul Taylor Dance Company’s repertory-mix shared with fans at the Los Angeles Music Center this weekend? What should have been a joyous Los Angeles reunion with one of the nation’s longest-lasting dance companies (it dates from 1954!) felt like modern-dance homework. This show, in its totality, did not connect. ...