sound. at REDCAT

sound. at REDCAT

Los Angeles premiere
Jack H. Skirball Series

Produced by SASSAS

Fans of improvised music are in for a special treat as New York avant-garde stalwarts Ikue Mori (laptop) and Zeena Parkins (electric harp) team up with legendary guitarist Fred Frith for a first-ever joint appearance in Los Angeles. The longtime collaborators are international icons of contemporary improvisation, regularly performing with artists from John Zorn to Ensemble Modern. The second night of this program is devoted to a rare screening of Werner Penzel and Nicholas Humbert’s Step Across the Border, an award-winning documentary on Frith’s music. This “celluloid improvisation” features performances by Frith and appearances by Zorn, Arto Lindsay and the late Tom Cora, among other luminaries of the international avant-garde.

Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins and Fred Frith
Sat Sept 15 | 8:30 pm

$25 [students, SASSAS members, CalArts alumni $14]

"The simpatico relationship between Mori and Parkins is a joy to experience." Dusted

"Frith makes music that must count amongst the most powerful and original of the present time." Libération

Step Across the Border
Sun Sept 16 | 7 pm

Germany/Switzerland, 1990, 90 min. b/w, 35mm

In person: Fred Frith

$8 [students, SASSAS members, CalArts alumni $6]

"The most important mix of music and film since the early ’70s." The New York Times

Curators’ Notes

One of the seminal figures in avant-garde music, Frith was an inspiring subject for Humbert and Penzel, who created this beautiful, feature-length film based on his musical and geographic peregrinations. Filmed entirely in black-and-white between 1988 and 1990, the film follows him in Japan, Italy, France, Germany, England, the United States and Switzerland; the camera roams among studios, fields, concert halls, trains, homes, cafes, landscapes, bridges, and automobiles, both expressing and revealing Frith's constant search for musical ideas amid the sounds of the worlds he visits. Step Across the Border builds an eloquent case for a whole new way of looking at, listening to, performing, and thinking about music.

“In Step Across the Border two forms of artistic expression, improvised music and direct cinema, are interrelated. In both forms it is the moment that counts, the intuitive sense for what is happening in a space. Music and film come into existence out of an intense perception of the moment, not from the transformation of a preordained plan.” – Humbert and Penzel

See the Millenium Film Journal article (No 30/21 – Fall 1997):,31/CGehmanStateless.html

Fred Frith, composer, improviser and multi-instrumentalist, has situated himself for more than thirty years in the area where rock music and new music meet. Co-founder of the British underground band Henry Cow (1968-78), he moved to New York in the late 1970s and came into contact with many of the musicians with whom he’s since been associated, such as John Zorn, Ikue Mori, Tom Cora, Zeena Parkins, and Bob Ostertag. Fourteen years in New York gave rise to groups like Massacre (with Bill Laswell and Fred Maher), Skeleton Crew (with Cora and Parkins), and Keep the Dog, a sextet performing an extensive repertoire of Fred’s compositions.

In the 1980s Frith began to write for dance, film, and theatre, and this in turn has led to his composing for Rova Sax Quartet, Ensemble Modern, Arditti Quartet, Asko Ensemble, and many other groups, including his own critically acclaimed Guitar Quartet. Best known world-wide as an improvising guitarist, Frith has also performed in a variety of other contexts, playing bass in John Zorn’s Naked City, violin in Lars Hollmer’s Looping Home Orchestra, and guitar on recordings ranging from The Residents and René Lussier to Brian Eno and Amy Denio. Frith is currently Professor of Composition at Mills College in Oakland, California. See for more information

Werner Penzel was born in 1950 and grew up in the South German countryside. In the late 1960s he played music and wrote poetry before turning to moviemaking in the early 1970s. He worked with the Brazilian theatre company Oficina, studied at the Munich Film School and traveled through South America, North Africa, India and Japan. After Vagabunden Karawane (198O), Adios al Odio (1986) and other movies he founded Cine Nomad together with Nicolas Humbert in 1987 through which they produced and directed, in addition to Step Across the Border, Middle of the Moment (1995) and the film triptych Three Windows-Hommage à Robert Lax (1999).

Nicolas Humbert was born in 1958; his writings, pictures and Super-8 films were influenced by French Surrealism. He co-founded the 'Groupe Macsom'. In 1980-82 he devoted himself to painting. In 1982-87 he studied at The Munich Film School. Since then has worked as a freelance writer and film director. Before founding Cine Nomad with Werner Penzel, he directed the feature film Nebel Jagen (1985) and the documentary Wolfsgrub (1986). In addition to his collaboration with Werner Penzel, he made an experimental film, Vagabonding Images (1998), with Simone Fürbringer. See for more information

These two evenings, a part of sound. 2007, are co-curated by Cindy Bernard, Jeremy Drake and Kathleen Johnson, with Steve Anker and Bérénice Reynaud. For its eighth season, the annual summer experimental music series has presented sound. at the Schindler House (June 30 & August 25) and sound. at the Steve Allen Theater (July 28), prior to sound. at REDCAT

Additional articles and interviews are available here:

sound. is a project of The Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that serves as a catalyst for the creation, presentation, and recognition of experimental art and sound practices in the Greater Los Angeles area. See for more info.

Curated by Cindy Bernard, Jeremy Drake and Kathleen Johnson with Steve Anker and Bérénice Reynaud. sound. is a project of The Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS) and is supported in part through grants from the Argosy Contemporary Music Fund; the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; the Foundation for Contemporary Arts; the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; and special donations from Amoeba Music and The Standard. See for more info.

Associated Images: 

Date/TimeGStudents, SASSAS members, CalArts alumniCA
SAT 9/15
8:30 pm
SUN 9/16
7:00 pm

G - General Audience

M - REDCAT Members

ST - Students

CA - CalArts Students/Faculty/Staff