1999 US tour

In Chapel Hill i met Keenan McDonald, who organized Transmissions oo2 earlier this year. We were shopping for spices and i got these dangerously hot Habañero peppers and also Chipotle peppers

October 1999 US tour


6 New York, New York, Tonic
7 Philadelphia, Pennsilvania, Astrocade (with Dean Roberts)
10 Carrboro, North Carolina, Go!
12 Atlanta, Georgia, Eyedrum
14 Austin, Texas, 33 Degrees
16 Chicago, Illinois, Lunar Cabaret
17 Chicago, Illinois, WNUR (recording session)
18 Chicago, Illinois, Empty Bottle
19 Madison, Wisconsin, Student Union
20 Minneapolis, Minnesota, Gus Lucky's
26 New York, New York, Knitting Factory (with Thurston Moore)





Tour Diary

5 New York
Always trying to keep from carrying a too heavy case, i left some gear at home and went shopping at 48th St. for lighter versions of some of it. Got a new e-bow (mine had died at transmissions festival) and more stuff. It was great to wander again in Canal St., a lovely and busy place…



6 New York, Tonic
I discovered Tonic was a very cool place with very nice people. This was a show for celebrating Loren MazzaCane Connors' 50th birthday (all October at Tonic), and i played with him. The set had its moments and it was ok, but i sensed i hadn't found the best link to Loren's playing. I was fearing it would happen. Loren's music is very special and it's not easy to approach… Afterwards i improvised a solo set which went surprisingly well.
Later i saw Alan Licht playing without knowing who he was (i had never seen him), i liked him a lot. Phill Niblock introduced us later.



7 Philadelphia, Astrocade
Dean Roberts picked me up on a cab, in which we were stuck in a serious NY rush-hour traffic jam that made us miss two buses to Phila. We finally got there at 8pm and soundchecked with the audience already there… Dean and i were getting along very well. He played a wonderful solo set, i still wonder how he made some of those sounds. I played a new version of Wave Field. We played a duo set in the end, which seemed to be too short, although it was actually 40 minutes. I was really glad to meet Chris Rice, he was great and helped a lot.


10 Carrboro, Go!
In Chapel Hill i met Keenan McDonald, who organized Transmissions oo2 earlier this year. We were shopping for spices and i got these dangerously hot Habañero peppers and also Chipotle peppers, which are apparently used to make a mexican sause called "salsa negra" (delicious). The gig at Go! was not very crowded – the weather in North Carolina was pretty rainy. I played "Infinity Blur" for the first time in the US and it worked out fine – the refrigerator at the bar was making a percussive rhythmic sound that everyone thought was part of the music. Well it actually was…
Keenan and i spent some time driving in this beautiful state, we listened to the new Clockwork record on the highway, it sounded great! We still tried to get to the mountain, but it was way too foggy. I had the best coffee in my life at a place in Carrboro.


12 Atlanta, Eyedrum
Victoria and Greg's three cats were really curious about the spices in my backpack. The experience of Atlanta (the space) was strange, i never quite knew where i was. Milton and the Eyedrum team were very nice. Everything was late, because one of my European voltage adapters had a broken wire and i had to fix it. Going South, i soon noticed Atlanta's accent was pretty dense, so i found myself asking everyone to repeat everything they said. Accents fascinate me. Milton and i had lunch at a bar and were served by an incredibly beautiful girl.
The show was great. The audience was into the music and in the end i offered to play Phill Niblock's guitar piece, which went great and had everyone surprised at its amazing power. "People had their jaws on the floor", Milton said.


14 Austin, 33 Degrees
This was an opportunity to get some "real Mexican" food and to try learning something more about chile peppers. I had a great time at Central Market, they had a bulk food section with lots of different spices and chile varieties – i got as many as i could. I was looking forward to experience the immensity of Texas, driving through the fields, but it didn't happen. I loved Austin, though, everyone was really nice and kind. The show was ok, Dan Plunkett put it on at the 33 Degrees record shop. I first got in touch with him after being impressed by ND's site's excellent design (www.nd.org).


16 Chicago, Lunar Cabaret
Kurt Griesch and i got friends along the process of releasing Aeriola Frequency, but only now we met for the first time. Also for the first time i had a show based on video. Played "Flyability", "Air Pass" and "Glider" videos and i was a bit surprised they were taken more seriously that i expected (in the whole tour). Bill Meyer was there and posted a review of the show on droneon:
"Rafael Toral played twice this weekend, accompanying his videos at the Lunar Cabaret on Sunday and performing new music on Monday. His videos are rather primitive home-made affairs which I found to be rather hypnotic (conflict of interest acknowledgement- I wrote the liner notes to one of his records and he also bought me some hash browns once). The first, of airplanes taking off and landing, was paired with a part tape, part live performance of AER 7 E, the sparse harmonics piece on Sound Mind Sound Body. The rise and fall of longed-for but unattainable objects (Toral is nuts about planes) asserted its own poetry. Second piece paired an extrapolation from Aeriola Frequency (he played the cd, ran it through his sparse electronics set up to find new curves and contours in the music) with a video of windmill farms. The third video set undescribable rushing images to a variation on AE 2, also from Sound Mind Sound Body. Dense Niblock territory here, very meditative.
Then in a spinal tap moment the cabaret operator's band stepped up and played gruesome punk rock, backed up his 7 year old daughter to the delight of her assembled class mates. I went outside and watched Turkish music videos through the window of the cafe two doors down."
It was great to see Bill, Jessica and Kevin again and to meet Monica Kendrick. Chicago's evenings were getting colder, but i escaped the dreadfully freezing weather they have in Winter, i wonder how can they stand it. I'm very lucky with this mild and comfortable Portuguese weather…


17 Chicago, WNUR (recording session)
From Northern University's gardens by the Michigan lake shore looking south, one can see a sort of beach, surrounded by the garden's grass and trees. Further south, in a very sci-fi landscape, the only buildings visible are a vertical burst of skyscrapers, Chicago downtown. It was an amazing view. What a privilege to study at a place like that… The recording was quite nice, to be broadcast on the following weekend.


18 Art Institute of Chicago
Nicolas Collins is now teaching there (lucky students!!!) and he kindly invited me to come over and play and talk for his class. I had figured out something to say, but when i opened my mouth i forgot everything and couldn't articulate any thoughts. Guess i wouldn't be a good teacher. But Nic is brilliant. It was fun.


18 Chicago, Empty Bottle
Chicago was special and intense as always. The highlight was this show, where i risked performing "Infinity Blur" for a crowd of 60 people in a rock club. It's an extremely quiet piece that only works if people listen. It was quieter that the hiss the PA was doing just from being turned on. People took a little while to wind down and realise what was happening, but ended up remaining some 40 minutes in total silence. I was happy and relieved it worked, it could have been a didaster. It served to confirm the excellence of the Chicago audience… Kevin's set was beautiful and strange. I can't remember it very well, which i think is a good sign – means that it's music your brain still has to learn how to deal with.
More from Bill's review: "Rafael's first piece lasted maybe an hour? I forgot my watch. He used the electronics to make an assembly of whistles, buzzes, and cricket sounds that hovered just at the threshold of hearing, except when it got quieter. By comparison, Bernhard Gunter's set 3 years ago was an act of wanton noisemongering. One of my friends drowned out the proceedings at one point simply by operating her cigarette lighter. First beautiful, then frustrating, then beautiful again, then frustrating again, it makes one think about the act of concentrating and how attention shapes music. The crowd were pretty good sports, stayed quiet almost until to the end. Then he rewarded their patience with a shorter improv piece that used resonance from a tapped guitar and feedback from a toy Marshall amp balanced on said guitar's neck as sources for the electronics – a multi- -layered swirl of drone and percussive bumps. After the first piece's austerity, it made me want to put my fist in the air and scream rock and roll."


19 Madison, Student Union
Very nice theater hall with a really poor sound system. I wanted to play Phill's guitar piece, but the PA wouldn't even get loud before distorting. I played AER 7 E instead – i was sad about the sound and maybe tired too, i played three wrong notes on the piece. Always awful when it happens. Earlier i played Wave Field, i was totally relying on the guitar amp to have something loud. But towards the end of it the fuse was blown, so it died. I wished i was in the audience seats, the video images on the screen were really gorgeous. I think my video stuff never looked as beautiful, which kinda compensated for the sound. Very nice and beautiful people with a cool mood. Late at night we went to a bar for some drinks.


20 Minneapolis, Gus Lucky's
Very different people played this evening, with variable levels of interest but resulting in a colorful evening. Wave Field was pretty good, had a very wild part with filter resonance and mad-random lfo. Shadow, Matthew's dog, patiently heard everything.


21 – 24 southwest car trip
My old friend and long time collaborator Paulo Feliciano came from Portugal and we met on the airplane to Albuquerque, NM. I rent a car and we drove thousands of miles in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. First stop was the Very Large Array Radio Astronomy Observatory near Socorro, NM.




After that we drove to Canyon de Chelly (amazingly beautiful) and Monument Valley, where we arrived after sunset. On the way there, the sky was gorgeous, red at the sun side and with a strip of blue just above the horizon at the opposite side, and a deep pink just above it. Everything softly merging into shades of violet, orange, blue and what else… we were driving a deserted road at 110 mph.




Next day, short visit to Grand Canyon, and in Flagstaff we met Michael (James Turrell's assistant), who drove us to the most incredible place i've ever been to, the Roden Crater. We met James Turrell there, it was a very intense experience. We watched the sunset from the crater's rim and a full moon rising. I almost forgot to breathe. Visibility was about 300 miles, 360 degrees. It was huge. The sky was all colors, the clouds were always changing. Too great and beautiful. The Roden Crater project is going to be open to the public a year from now. Michael explained to us that the strip of blue we saw yesterday opposite from the sun was a phenomenon called "Twilight Arch", which is simply the shadow of the Earth on the atmosphere… Magical.


The Roden Crater


Next day we drove to Colorado and spent the day at San Juan Mountains, also breathtaking… Nice coffee in Telluride.


25 New York
We arrived in NY from Denver. Phill (Niblock) wasn't home (i was staying at his place), so we left the bags across the hall and went back to the street. Called Lee, who immediately invited us to come over. We were delighted to meet Sage, who got along very well with Paulo. It was nice to see Leah again – someone asked her to take some pictures of me, so she just did. Actually i felt privileged, because she's a great photographer. Right after that we went to SY studio, where Lee and Jim were working. It was great to see Jim again, always with his intensely bright energy. He's a genius.


26 New York, Knitting Factory
At last minute, Thurston proposed playing a piece of his instead of an improvisation duo. It sounded good and was fun to play, even in spite of my being more inclined to improvise. People at the Knitting Factory were nice. This morning Paulo and i went record shopping with Jim to Other music and met DJ spooky there, so it was quite good to be on a record store and have these two giving advice on new stuff to get…



27 New York
Spent the day with Paulo in Manhattan, in bookstores, record shops, art galleries, curiosity shops, seeing beautiful people on the streets. At the end of the day we visited Lee and Jim at the studio and at some point they asked me "where's your stuff?" and suggested that i go back to Phill's place and get my gear. I ended up recording some guitar drones and random lfo bleeps. It sounded pretty well, thanks to Jim's precision and care with recording. Hope they use it…