Noise Makers

“If you want something predictable, play a keyboard,” says Kevin Spahn, aka Spark Applied to Powder. Spahn plays a custom Sidrassi organ, a bizarre electronic instrument that looks like a xylophone, responds to pressure rather than percussion, and features a seven-bar circuit board wired to randomly placed brass pins. With this instrument, Spahn produces a droning, pulsing, ambient music that sounds like demons inhabiting a Victrola — and it’s fucking cool.

Within the genre of “experimental,” the range encompasses basically any empty space left over from what is characteristically defined as music: melody, chord progression, rhythm, structure, etc — from grindingly abrasive distortion, to garbled glitches, to broken walls-of-sound, to rakes scraping across sheet metal. 

“The umbrella of noise is huge,” says Spahn. “I follow my gear down the rabbit hole of its capabilities and try to get other avenues of sound to impact people.”

During shows, rather than overwhelming people with hours of any one musician’s noise, Spahn’s sets tend to include multiple performers each playing shorter single pieces.  “Eugene has a really well-developed, supportive noise scene and we put on shows together,” he says. 

Spark Applied to Powder plays with Chiefkirk, Hobby Knife, Thee Source vs. Ketamine Fight Club and Cohosh 7 pm Sunday, March 25, at New Zone Gallery; $5 suggested donation.