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Live at Roulette

by Snake Union

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A document of a live experience, this extended sonic meditation was first performed in February 2020. We intended to take this set on the road as part of an extensive tour to the midwest, culminating in a series of shows in Chicago. In a now familiar refrain, the novel coronavirus put those tour plans on an indefinite hiatus.

One aspect of working with analog and modular synthesizers is that the tones, timbres, and sequences are all set via the physical interface. Once you work out a patch with your cables and dials, it exists only as long as you keep the configuration. There are no presets, and it is somewhat difficult to ever recreate a complex patch with 100% accuracy. Once the tour was postponed, we held out hope that the lockdown might be short enough to keep our patches intact…but the wait proved too long. New sounds needed to be made, especially considering the gift of indoor time we’ve been given. The cables are pulled, the dials are set back to zero…and this recording is all that remains.

We worked for quite a while on this piece, often practicing early in the morning (for musicians), as the studio building is quietest then. We fell into an enjoyable rhythm of meeting up over bagels, discussing the set, the tour, our lives, and then delving into refining and organizing the 40 minutes of music we needed to play. We were lucky enough to have been booked by David Weinstein for the annual Mixology festival. We had an end date and a set length we needed to work towards. We carved out ample time to create.

Chuck arrived with a sweeping, spaced-out sequence already patched; you can hear it begin at approx. 16 mins in. Using that “mega jam” (as we dubbed it) as the center of the piece, we built the rest of the set out from there. Many of the transitions involved us handing off the central theme to each other, sliding between percussive sections, sequences, and more open-ended tones and textures.

Knowing that Roulette had a wonderful projection system in place, we asked our friend Katherine Libervoskaya to perform live visuals along with us. An accomplished, longtime video artist, Katherine is known for her digital manipulations of abstract analog source material. The day of the show, we arrived early to soundcheck and sort the visuals. When the Roulette staff lowered the screen, the scale was truly breathtaking. That night, after weeks of preparation, we played the set. Under the massive, glowing screen, we felt our way though the timing and transitions, some slightly early, some slightly late, some just right. We were transported back to those early mornings, shaking the cobwebs out of our minds with beating frequencies and lowpass filters; and after 37 minutes that felt both much longer and much shorter, it was over.

We hope you enjoy this document of that night. Play it in the background, use it to reminisce, or use it to meditate on the future. In its fragile temporality, it was an unwitting testimony to the days that would soon come.


released May 1, 2020

Chuck Bettis - electronics
David Grant - electronics
Katherine Libervoskaya - live visuals & cover photo
David Weinstein -Curator/MC
Ian Douglass-Moore -Sound engineer
Roulette -Venue
Colin Marston/Menegroth: A Thousand Caves - mastering


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Snake Union New York

SNAKE UNION is Chuck Bettis (Meta-matics,Mossenek) & David Grant (Action Patrol, On A Clear Day). A duo that works in improvisational rhythmic explorations that match analog synths and digital sound processing, modular wires and max patches. By turns psychedelic, delicate, and fuzzed out, the sequenced collides with the freeform as these two soundmakers push into new realms. goo.gl/eC0dlZ ... more

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