Ear Pollen debut: Tim Crump, Colin Bragg, Blake Helton and Andrew Levine get it together. (digitally transformed photo, credit: Mark Gresham)

Review: Ear Pollen series offers fertile environment for fresh creativity

Mark Gresham | 21 JAN 2020

“Pollination” is the transfer of pollen from a male part of a plant to a female part of a plant, enabling fertilization and the production of seeds. It may be within the same plant, it may be between different plants that are similar enough, whether within a species or between species. In the latter case, the cross-fertilization can produce hybrid offspring Often, pollination is due a pollinating agent such as wind, animals, birds or insects – an intervening entity that brings some of the pollen in contact with a flower’s stigma, from where it makes its way to the ovary to complete the pollination process and create new seeds.

This past Wednesday saw the debut of Ear Pollen, the name of a new monthly experimental series at “378” – a contemporary art gallery and performance space located in the Candler Park neighborhood, a part of Atlanta’s east side that extends into DeKalb County. Ear Pollen is curated by Atlanta percussionist Klimchak, who created it at the request of gallery director Tom Zarrilli. The performance took place in the gallery’s cozy downstairs space. Seating on sofas and chairs could accommodate a couple of dozen, but the audience was a bit larger than that. Fortunately there as plenty of standing room. Available with out crowding,good sound and decent sight lines except for a few structural columns here and there.

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Wednesday’s series debut opened with solos by Tim Crump, local saxophonist, clarinetist and composer who brought a handful of saxes and clarinets which he swapped between during his set. Long drones, multiphonics, accumulation of short figures that repeated and varies, and a willingness to use edgy, at times raspy articulation marked the course of his playing, swapping between instruments in an musical monologue.

The featured performer, around whom the concert was constructed, was Andrew Levine of Hamburg, Germany, improvising in a compact array of instruments: Theremin, a small 0-Coast (“No-Coast”) analog synthesizer, a STEIM Cracklebox (“Kraakdoos” in the original Dutch) and a Haken Continuum synthesizer. It as a superb performance with a good feeling of looseness to it, and what was most surprising is that is was Levine’s first solo public performance ever. Prior to Wednesday’s show, he had only performed publicly in ensembles

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After Levine Atlanta-based, jazz-oriented drums and guitar duo Helton & Bragg (Blake Helton and Colin Bragg) brought forth an enjoyably solid,well-grounded performance as the third set of the evening.

After that, all performers gathered on the small stage for a final group improv – the culmination of the series’ intent for cross-pollination among different musicians whose music share some compatible commonalities but have not likely worked together before. It’s a kind of creative engagement, Klimchak observes, that used to be a hallmark among Atlanta experimental music community in the past, but has since gone missing in the city’s more fragmented music scene as venues come and go. The objective is for the ear Pollen series will recapture that kind for fertile creative spirit. Current plans are for Ear Pollen to present concerts at Gallery 378 every third Wednesday through the end of 2020. ■

EarRelevant recommends this related article:

Read Doug DeLoach’s preview of the Ear Pollen series, published by out good friends at Creative Loafing: LISTENING POST: Ear Pollen spawns experimental music [Doug DeLoach | 01 JAN 2020, Creative Loafing-Atlanta]