“Hello, my name is Joel, and I’m sad. Only half of my friends showed up.” The atmosphere at Saturday night’s show at the Barge was intimate to be sure, but Joel Feitzinger, also known as EPT, was the only one who benefited from it. His set was a conversation with his audience; he tinkered with his sound and then asked for the audiences’ feedback. His music, an industrial interpretation of drum and bass music, was a stark contrast to the casual atmosphere of the Barge. It was a welcome change, however.
As a first-year who doesn’t know better than to show up half an hour early to everything, I had the pleasure of watching Feitzinger set up for his Saturday night set. Feitzinger spent his time manipulating dials and pushing buttons with precise, concentrated attention punctuated by witty chatter and the occasional sip from a mug shaped like the head of the Terminator.
The show began in a sonic surge. To make his music, Joel uses a guitar with a pick that records the notes. The sound of the guitar is an industrial electronic blend. The performance process consists of Joel’s manipulating timbres and playing with sounds. He estimates that about 20 to 50 percent of his music is improvised.
At times, the music evokes ambient, dreamy bubbles of sound; at others, it sounds like a robot factory. One or two of his songs were frantically dance-y, but the majority was a non-linear, dense blend of industrialism and melodies that subtly adhered to stylistic rules. Feitzinger never hesitated to experiment with musical technique. In one song, as he explained to the audience, he played with serialism by arranging the twelve musical notes in a chromatic scale in a specific pattern.
Feitzinger’s music draws inspiration from anything, from Hawaiian pop music to baroque to The Winstons, a funk and soul band of the 1960’s. Joel sites his influences as Planet Blue and 20th-century classical music, although he grew up listening to “radio stuff,” later getting into Led Zeppelin and electronic music.
There was one point in the show when, after a skip in rhythm, Feitzinger held up a sign that read “ACCIDENTAL” in all caps. A few seconds later, he switched to one that said “INTENTIONAL.” The contradiction of those terms seemed to be a theme that ran through his performance. At times a drum beat would be distorted to the point where it was unrecognizable and seemed to be lost entirely, but one still had the inkling that it was intentional. Then, the beat would pick up, and the song would go on. Feitzinger seemed to be adeptly mastering a signature mix of chaos and intent in his songs, one that can only be expected to mature as time goes on.