242.Pilots Live in Bruxelles

Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco's new book, Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer (Harvard Press), contains a quote that says a lot about live electronic music performances. According to British synth pioneer Peter Zinovieff, "Anybody who has listened to electronic music a lot knows that it's nearly 100 percent terribly boring." While this statement is overly brazen, there's no denying that over its history, electronic music has been plagued by its practitioners' persistently staid public displays. In fact, today's digital musicians are even less compelling that their analog forefathers; where first-generation synthesists had to manipulate a complex array of keyboards and patch chords, contemporary technoists click their way through user-friendly interfaces, a tactic at odds with their music's oft-visceral connotations. 242.Pilots is a trio of digital video artists who employ their own custom software in pursuit of uncharted cinematic realms. Live in Bruxelles captures the trio in action earlier this year. To the accompaniment of a beatless soundscape, the Pilots paint the screen with shards of concrete and geometric images, augmenting received modes of visual manipulation like chromatic reversal, with a host of unduplicateable real-time techniques. While many A/V performances subordinate one medium to the other — by deeming that a given change in the aural will automatically trigger a preset change in the visual — Live in Bruxelles is a truly organic enterprise; as musician Jason Bennett says during the disc's bonus interview: "It's like improvising a soundtrack to a film, but the film also responds to what I do. [The Pilots] are also listening, obviously. So it's very much a two-way process." MUTEK's curators would do well to book 242.Pilots for the 2003 festival. They're at the leading edge of a newly energised field. Extras: interviews. (Carpark Records)