The Critical Bands are an ongoing series (2007-present) of institutional critique based performances initiated by Alan S. Tofighi & Nouroboros. The Critical bands focus largely on the distance/conjoined nature regarding the subcultures of Performance art and Avant-garde music. A space between Musical composition and performance art is presented and the boundary between genuine and satire, expert and novice, performance, the audience, and the potential failures on the presentation/crossover of these worlds are brought to scrutiny. The performative aspects vary between the bands but site specificity, complicity with the instruments, and audience are all central. The works, when live are presented in various venues and alternative spaces in order to test and potentially rework the historically awkward "intervention" of performance art into musical spaces and Vice Versa.
Influenced by Morton Subotnick's prophecy of the music studio emulating the painters studio, the $75,000 Studio Plaque is a a collaborator in which the studio is emphasized. The Myth of the Studio and fetishization of equipment is key. This is an idealized crisp clear all electronic recording unit in which creativity and homework/busy work are recorded to the highest degree. An analysis and imitation of fax machine electronic styled experimentalism, and its urge to make said experimentalism palatable. Bruce Nauman gone IDM. The $75,000 Alan S. Tofighi plaque was installed in 2014 and is on view in the Michael Asher Studio block at the California Institute of the Arts.
The Cryptozoorchestra is a band consisting of animatronic representations of organisms cryptozoological and formerly cryptozoological. A responsive choir that interacts between any audience and performer. While not so much an attempt to make themselves known, more so than potential observable and unobservable responses the cryptozoorchestra is an ensemble that is at all times existent despite the mortality of the performers. Analyzing chance based large improvisations the Cryptozoorchestra is an ensemble dedicated to the carrying extremes of silence and noise in group improvisation and the rhizomatic layer so prevalent in large group improvisation. Mining the History of Synthesis in its need to recreate the voice and the early notions of interactive art in its falsely perceived notion of its quality due to its interactivity and spectacle the Cryptozoorchestra similarly works to recreate blindly and without biased input the sound of these performers unknown outside of theirreactive/interactive animatronic forced/botched representation.
Chairkiller is the totalized embodiment of online musicians forums, mainly those talking about "gear". Endless debates can be found on forums over the fetishization of various instruments/ effect pedals/modular synths, amps, etc., in which the collectors are typically sheltered bedroom musicians with little to no intention of performing publicly in their lifetime. While wearing a protective helmet and playing along to isolated heavy rock drum tracks Alan S. Tofighi drums along/hambones to the prerecorded tracks on an amplified chair linked to his pedalboard. The audience is present while this event goes on much longer than necessary. A display equipment of pathetic ability and insincere to all in attendance. Chairkiller more so than the other Critical Bands is a purposely akward fit into either venue or gallery space.
The Hand of Glory is a Minimalist/escape act band. Taking reference from the myth of the hand of glory in Which the Hand of a criminal is acquired and wicks made from it’s hair are made. When it the bearer is invisible and it’s victim immobilized. This history is then retroactively place into reworking the history of transgressive and mystical notions inherent in early performance art and Noise based music, academic or otherwise and the renaissance of such qualities in post academic noise music.
The act begins as Alan picks a member form the audience to handcuff and bound him while a modified backing track of a Giallo Soundtrack is played to distance the music from direct categorization of Horror music. as alan Escapes, Hand of Glory replicas modified to produce flickering pitch patterns are placed on a chair in a completely dark room reside. This radiant, damaged, simulation of a performer takes center stage while Alan clad in all black, and often Sunglasses and leather gloves, and bound, residesmanipulating the signal of the hand via various electronics. With references to Charlemagne Palestine’s hands, Early Minimalisms use of Mictonal drones (Tony Conrad and the Dream Syndicate) and pioneer usage of sampling (Terry Riley’s You’re No Good, Steve Reich) Pattern Based minimalism, and its relation to Post-fluxus dance, and first wave Industrial Music THOG operates in adding a sense of morbidity, heaviness, and associations to the occult, The forced imagery on the otherwise neutral music is further complicated by the use of Alan’s uniform. Pure cool removal and BDSM references are employed to place this act historically to post-Industrial music and Powerelectronics despite no exertion of Pathos from Alan or THOG. A site specific backing track is played featuring distorted remixes of songs made unrecognizable and blended into the noise based compositions to further push the historical agenda of the hand and so called "theft" in music.
The Nouroboros Octet serves to analyze the role of conductor and composer in large free ensembles as well as audience reception. By infiltrating the academic system and learning music composition, Alan worked to assemble ensembles of trained musicians into states of no structure. the groups are given at most pre tuned and prepared instruments and given no further instruction. the self imposed pressure to fulfill the supposed wishes of said octet and composer are used to test the ideas of improvisation and invention in the players. The audience is then given the task of deducing genuine from forced, and composed from improvised. Often a forced score of the 23 minute silent film "Six Visions (for Occult Self amputation) by Alan S. Tofighi" accompanies this union to escalate these pretenses.
Razzle Dazzle takes influence from so called political Noise records and is an effort to make deprogramming music. Originally conceived as a project between Alan S. Tofighi & Nouroboros, RD was formed to break from the structure implied by this collaboration. By taking influence of the debatable Razzle Dazzle camouflage of WWI and reworking into a structuralist video format to appease noise/industrials obsession with all things war, RD is a largely inaudible slow nauseous journey that will leave the audience "deprogrammed". Depending on the levels of inaudibility and audience embers leaving due to symptoms of the music rather than boredom (sickness, Nausea, Physical pressure, etc.) RD works to subsonically answer questions on the role of silence and listening environments in music and art’s constant attempt at politicization despite its role as overt or Obscured/forged through abstraction. Titanic levels of of volume and discreteness is the key to the success of RD.
The Seeds of Distrust a collaboration inherently of skepticism on all levels. Interactivity, collaboration, notions of improvisation, silence, and the parallels of parascience, electroacoustic music, and durational sound sculpture are examined. By connecting a plant via electrodes to a Wheatstone bridge and a Dektor Psychological Stress Evaluator. This signal is also routed into an effects pedal that emulates a mellotron so the Seeds of Distrust can manipulate pathos and simulate a human voice for maximum coercion. the Seeds of distrust is manipulating histories of improvisation, authorship and control in what is undoubtedly a series of performances in which one performer is electrocuted and put to the whims of the energies of the other performer. The Early Girl Tomato Plant, Leprechaun Aglaonema, Simulacraceae, and Alan S. Tofighi rotate electrodes and connection to the Wheastone Bridge and PSE.
Toys Not Music, the 23-tet Futurist drum ensemble, is a historical study in the history of Noise music and it's infiltration into rock music. Overt in it’s allusions to Futurism, Industrial, Classic Rock, Hardcore punk, and the desire for invention and spectacle in the noise scene TNM works to merge these movements beyond caricature. Taking influence from the Intonarumori of Luigi Russolo,A typical set involves Alan Appearing onstage to a backing track placing a series of timed and choreographed windup toys upon an amplified snare drum rigged through various electronics. The sounds produced are not uncommon to those of the intonarumori, or the ever prevalent laptop school of computer music. The lineage of Noise from futurism through academic new music, industrial pre-punk, fluxus, and punk music are all enveloped and reformatted in this union.
The Vasquez Rocks Large Ensemble is a reverse land art band The tenure of members is variable and the choice of instrument is site specific. The performers are all given mass produced ‘party favor” toys and are instructed to perform extended techniques and manipulate acoustical phenomenon for the duration of the event. reductionist techniques and working to created phasing and different tones were operations performed. The VRLE works to employ strategies of utilizing desert culture as a form of outsider identity and appropriating shamanism, as well as meeting head on ideas of the nature cult art and music. The performers are instructed to perform whenever trash is seen or unseen and dispose of said trash. at a certain point by either a completed mission or revision of a dirty whistle the band reconvenes and disperses.