The atmosphere held to the magical-thrift-shop theme, with strings of blue lights draped around the various instruments and a lamp with a blue-sky-and-clouds shade resting on top of a speaker. The powerful overall impression of the performance as a whole was of detritus cohering into beauty. In some ways, Pahl's art is akin to that of electronic music, which is constantly in search of new sounds, and to that of hip-hop, which seizes musical technology and puts it back within reach of the streets. But Pahl goes in a different direction: he is interested in what has been discarded. Technology in his music is not just humanized, it is rendered positively charmed. Pahl uses a digital sampler occasionally, but his collection of flea market instruments really amounts to manual sampling of a sort.
At any rate, there's no banging on a can, no eyeballs being sliced open, no confrontation. This is the most affirmative avant-garde creation you are likely ever to experience. At the end, Pahl said, "I don't know what time it is, but we're probably done."
Frank Pahl showcases his music and instruments at the Gallery Project on Friday, October 14.
[Review published October 2005]