By Joe Hartfeil
EDMONTON – For multi-disciplinary artist Kelly Ruth, the decision to create music with a weaving loom represented an “obvious” progression in her career. To most of us, the ethereal sounds within Ruth’s upcoming Forms are anything but obvious, but then most of us haven’t used textiles as part of a visual arts practice while operating a sustainable clothing line and participating in Winnipeg’s experimental music scene.
Having relocated to Edmonton in 2017, Ruth notes some essential differences between the two capitals, despite the fact that “everyone seems to think they’re very similar cities.” Where Winnipeg has a more structured sound art community, including a variety of experimental music festivals “each with a different flavour,” Edmonton is notable for “the number of people doing noise and the enthusiasm amongst all those people to make things happen even if they have no funding to do so.” As a member of the loom/cello/bassoon trio Civvie (which, although each member currently lives in different cities, is still occasionally active), Ruth endeavours to restrain her contributions, operating in a largely supportive and percussive realm in order to leave breathing room for the other musicians. Pitches and squeals approximating human breathing are, incidentally, among the “anthropomorphic sounds” Ruth creates on her loom, with an assist from the contact mics and effects pedals supplementing the machine’s built-in pedals. In a solo context, partially thanks to the influence of her adopted city’s “very different aesthetic” of “blasting the walls off the space,” Ruth’s sound has grown bigger in scope and aggressiveness, as evidenced by the truly industrial (revolution) heaviness and propulsion of numbers like 4 Dimensional Persistance and Boreal Eclipse.
In a noise/experimental field often dominated by modular synthesizers and other electronic bleeps, the loom’s history as the “predecessor to the computer as we know it” resonates in each phantom weave enacted by its gifted operator.
The cassette release for Kelly Ruth’s Forms on Pseudo Laboratories is on Thursday, January 24 at Edmonton’s Sewing Machine Factory. The event is also a release show for Uncanny Valley by Private Investigators, while special guest Tension Collectors will be joining both acts on the bill.Kelly Ruth, Private Investigators, Pseudo Laboratories, Sewing Machine Factory, Tension Collectors, Uncanny Valley