Yoshimasa Wada’s concert at the Kitchen on January 13 featured four of his ‘pipe horns,’ which are simply enormous plumbing pipes with mouthpieces attached. They sound a little like tubas, although the sound is more direct, and the players can slide from one note to another without benefit of valves or slides. Playing against electronic drones, the four players made simple sliding melodies for about two hours, creating a meditative music strongly reminiscent of La Monte Young’s work. With the exception of Garrett List, the performers lacked sufficient breath and embouchure control to make their melodic lines consistently gratifying, though the sonorities themselves were appealing.
The electronic drone tones, all tuned to the root and fifth, made delicate adjustments in volume throughout the evening. This was accomplished by Liz Phillips, utilizing a remarkable set of equipment which processed the pipe horn sounds and made the adjustments automatically according to her program.