SXSW Review: Moritz Simon Geist, JFDR, Hinako Omori, March 15, Central Presbyterian Church

20240316 Moritz Simon Geist

Moritz Simon Geist’s approach to “sound ideation” is earnest if not eccentric and philosophical. This night, he was using a machine that senses tension/stress to make music. Technically, so does every string instrument, but I’m sure he has a very good reason to distinguish his creation. It is connected to what seemed like a small 16 pipe organ. However, I was not clear whether the music was LIVE, pre-recorded, or were the stress pre-recorded and then played-back and sampled to enable “live music.”

Regardless, the concert built a baseline drone like a bagpipe (baseline stress?) and then other phrases on top. While the music, if it can be called that truthfully, wasn’t exciting, the attending thoughts were interesting. Are we to hear the humanity buried in the algorithms only because a humanly intelligible tone or voice emerged? The accompanying visualizations are even more baffling in terms of how they were generated. Had I understood the process, I think there would be more appreciation of how/whether it is remarkable that the sounds/graphic parameters changed. As it was, the experience was meta-in-the-extreme: my mind tried to place reasoning into a void that I was never allowed to see. I guess that fits a church.

20240316 JFDR

Up next after Geist was JFDR, a duo playing ethereal, floaty folk with pop and electronic elements thrown in.

Their melody was not noticeable to me nor was it centered on creating hooks, but the singing is very strong. At one point the vocalist even swayed a bit too much and knocked the mic … we can never fault enthusiasm.

20240316 Hinako Omori

In comparison to the others this night, Hinako Omori’s performance was more stereotypical. It did not help the ambience that the set was delayed for 15 minutes, but seemingly not because of technical difficulties.

One could categorize her music as stream-of-consciousness and I think that really depends on your state-of-mind. She did not stop in between numbers, either, as light singing and spoken word numbers flowed into the next connected only by previous notes. To me, the point of live music was always to revisit it afterwards – especially for an album that one publishes. I find it hard to revisit states-of-minds IN ORDER to listen to music. And I don’t know which is the robot anymore – Geist’s algorithms, or the forced display of constrained, “creative” music from Omori.

Posted on by Gary in South By Southwest