Ka Baird: Espylacopa (A Reversal in Three Acts) with Chris Penalosa, Muyassar Kurdi, Camilla Padgitt Coles, Thistle Jemison and Sandy Gordon

For her ISSUE debut, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Ka Baird presents Espylacopa (A Reversal In Three Acts), an interdisciplinary collaborative work that incorporates organic and processed sounds, human voice, projected and ambient lighting with performance art, sculpture and movement. Espylacopa, the reverse of apocalypse, takes the form of a ritual contextualized as a performance conjured to reverse current, unwanted processes or trends to flow in an intended direction.

Throughout this reversal, Espylacopa utilizes the pinecone, symbolic of the pine cone-shaped pineal gland that produces melatonin, a serotonin-derived harmone modulating sleep patterns in both circadian and seasonal cycles. Studies on the pineal gland and melatonin have contributed to chronobiology, the branch of science that explores rhythms in living organisms. From the point of view of biological evolution, the pineal gland represents a kind of atrophied photoreceptor. In the epithalamus of some species of amphibians and reptiles, it is linked to a light-sensing organ, known as the parietal eye which is also called the pineal eye or third eye. Rene Descartes believed the pineal gland to be the "principal seat of the soul” while French writer and philosopher Georges Bataille used “the pineal-eye” as a reference to a blind spot in Western rationality, analyzed at length by literary scholar Denis Hollier in his study Against Architecture:

“When I carefully seek out, in deepest anguish, some strange absurdity, an eye opens at the top, in the middle of my skull. This eye opening up onto the sun in all its glory, to contemplate it in its nakedness, privately, is not the work of my reason: it is a cry escaping from me. For at the moment when the flash blinds me I am the splintering brilliance of a shattered life, and this life - agony and vertigo - opening up onto an infinite void, bursts and exhausts itself all at once in this void.”

The piece is presented in three acts: Embodiment, Incantation and Transfiguration. Baird’s collaborators include Camilla Padgitt-Coles (light design/synthesizer), Muyassar Kurdi (movement), Chris Penalosa (modular synthesis), Thistle Jemison (harp) and Sandy Gordon (vibraphone).

Embodiment

Ka Baird -- Piano, Voice
Chris Penalosa -- Processing of Piano through Modular Synthesis
Muyassar Kurdi -- Movement

Incantation

Ka Baird -- Voice

Transfiguration

Ka Baird -- Flute, Voice
Camilla Padgitt Coles -- Korg Delta
Thistle Jemison -- Harp
Sandy Gordon -- Vibraphone
Muyassar Kurdi -- Movement



Light Design/Projections by Camilla Padgitt-Coles and Ka Baird
Set Design/Sculptural Element by Muyassar Kurdi and Ka Baird
Conceived and Directed by Ka Baird


Ka Baird is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist living and working in NYC. She is one of the founding and continuing members of the long running avant psych project Spires That In The Sunset Rise. Described by Jack Rose as a "female Sun City Girls," STITSR have contributed a different slant to the New Folk movement by incorporating various avant-garde and world music influences into their music. Their most recent album "Beasts In The Garden" was described by Marc Masters as "some kind of long-lost Terry Riley/Angus MacLise collaboration, equally devoted to divine repetition and center-seeking ritual." Since 2001, they have released eight full length records and several side releases.

Since relocating to NYC in November 2014, Baird has set off in numerous directions apart from Spires with new collaborations as well as honing in on her own solo work. Her current work explores piano improvisation, electroacoustic interventions, extended vocal techniques, physical movement, and her unusual electronic manipulation of the flute. She released an album of piano improvisations through Brooklyn label Perfect Wave "See Sun Think Shadow" in November of 2015 and a tribute record "A Love Supreme" dedicated to John Coltrane through Chicago label No Index in January of 2016. She has toured extensively both nationally and internationally with performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), MoMA PS1, Roulette Intermedium, Modern Music Guild (Oberlin College), Cafe OTO (London) and numerous festival appearances with Spires including TUSK (Newcastle, UK), Outer Ear Festival (Chicago, IL), Incubate (Tilburg, Netherlands), and Festival Of Endless Gratitude (Copenhagen, DK). She also co-runs the label and concert organizer Perfect Wave with Camilla Padgitt-Coles.

Camilla Padgitt-Coles is a multimedia artist and musician currently working in light, sound, video and audio-visual environments. Since 2009 she has performed music and live visuals across the US and in Europe. She utilizes analog and digital synths as well as prepared footage and a variety of D.I.Y. projection methods, more recently incorporating newer technologies in order to fuse light with sound. She plays and records solo as Ivy Meadows and in ambient improv collaborations Future Shuttle, Energy Star and Tropical Rock. In 2011 she founded Perfect Wave, a collectively curated web & print publishing platform which "maintains a committed vision to experimental performance, sound and art with a special interest in creating intergenerational dialogue." Perfect Wave produces a magazine, releases music and organizes events in NYC.

Muyassar Kurdi ​is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist. Her work encompasses sound, extended vocal technique, performance art, movement, photography, and film. She has toured extensively in the U.S. and throughout Europe, including the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and the UK in both England and Scotland. A versatile improviser, Muyassar has composed and performed music for voice, harmonium, piano, lyre, autoharp, and theremin in both solo and collaborative environments. She currently focuses her attention to interweaving homemade electronic instruments and sculpture into her vocal and dance performances, stirring a plethora of emotions from her audience members through vicious noise, ritualistic chants, and meditative movements. Kurdi studied voice and dance with legendary vocalist, dancer and recording artist Meredith Monk via The House Foundation, as well as learning the Japanese dance tradition of Butoh with Tadashi Endo, director of the Butoh Center MAMU. She also explored Butoh with Mexican master of the form Diego Pi​ñ​on among others throughout Chicago, NYC, Berlin, and Vienna. She currently studies with Juilliard faculty member Janis Brenner, also a member of the Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble.

Chris Penalosa is a multidisciplinary artist based in New York. His work primarily focuses on improvisation with modular electronics, utilizing signal processing as a collaborative tool to sculpt sounds in real time. Penalosa has performed collaboratively and solo in New York at Microscope Gallery, MoMA PS1 Print Shop, Experimental Intermedia and at Spektrum in Berlin. He currently works with the veteran underground record label Generations Unlimited and the modular electronics company littleBits Electronics.

Thistle Jemison is a musician who divides her time between New York City and the Catskill Mountains of New York state. She has studied music at Hampshire, Smith, and Amherst Colleges, as well as UMass Amherst, and has a BFA in jazz voice from The New School for Jazz & Contemporary Music. In addition, Thistle studied South Indian Classical voice for six years with renowned vocalist and teacher Saavithri Ramanand. Harp just so happens to be Thistle's fifth instrument, with which she is very much in love. Drawing on her formal education as both a vocalist and composer in both jazz and western classical, as well as her training in Carnatic voice, THISTLE's current project is an album of songs for harp, voice and chamber ensemble that is inspired by the stories of Hans Christian Andersen. Her music has been described as mystical and angelic, as well as evocative of death, ghosts, deep female darkness and pagan magic.

Sandy Gordon is a musician and improvisor living in Brooklyn, NY. As a drummer and percussionist, she often merges, mutates, and swaps her drum kit with a rotating patchwork of small percussion, homemade field recordings, electronics, and found objects. She has collaborated extensively on projects in sound, movement, film, theater, education, healing arts, live gardening, and other modalities. Current projects include collaborations with Anastasia Clarke, Samuel Lang Budin, Derek Baron, and as a member of the collective group Causings. Sandy teaches drums and music to all ages. She is an Alexander Technique teacher in training at Balance Arts Center.