Holland Andrews and Chris Johnedis in an Improvised Concert Film
The experimental drum and vocal duo, called I’d Rather Not Talk About It, closed out the 2016 Improvisation Summit of Portland, last summer. It was the end of another long weekend in which even big fans of weird music and their acute ears were beginning to tire. This performance was the last blast of harsh noise and delicate notes. The sparse audience remaining was reenergized.
Using two Panasonic DSLR cameras for an impromptu shoot, Forrest Brennan and myself attempted to capture a riveting musical performance with no visual frills to work with. The film is raw, untreated. No flashy lights or visual effects, no color enhancement, filters, just the intimacy of two people together in spontaneous creation for eighteen minutes.
Holland Andrews and Chris Johnedis may not have the catchiest band name, but it makes an appropriate title for this film. The duo’s unspoken bond in the act of improvisation is what makes this concert a story. From beginning to end, the two never make eye contact, yet they perform the same piece, take the same direction. They don’t talk about it, but the “it” they perform is pure music.
I had considerations about the way this should be presented, and after much deliberation, I finally decided to present the concert in full. Branic Howard provided the stage audio recording (microphones hanging above the performers), while Forrest took care of cameras. We used available lighting. The artists contrast against the black curtain with the many shadows surrounding them.
The music and visual style may not please everyone, but I think once you start watching, you initially find that Andrews is just as charismatic as she is enigmatic. Her operatic prowess is deep and provocative. Her use of electronic vocal effects to smear bursts of color into the music sometimes drives it into different worlds. Johnedis has a soothing presence, although fierce in another way. Musically, he provides the engine for the journey, lifting her melodies, giving them structure. He plays with a light touch, but he can get cacophonous, groovy, or polyrhythmic, as needed.
This was recorded on June 4, 2016. I’m pleased to finally have the film available. If you haven’t watched it already, please enjoy it now.