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 terrain in tandem with 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.
Taking Morton Subotnick's prophecy of the music studio emulating the painters studio, the $75,000 Studio Plaque (2015-present) 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 (2015-2016) 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 their reactive/interactive animatronic forced/botched representation.
Backpack (2018-Present) inverts the notion of traveling artists/curators post-Relational Aesthetics bubble. contrasted against the gear fetishism in the world of the performer/composer. Backpack relies entirely on the contents of what Alan can fit into a standard backpack. Lacking a driver's license and without a stable living situation at the time of conception, Alan also has to use public transportation or carpooling between cities and arrive on time for load-in at the various venues. Most disturbingly Backpack poses a danger in the utilization and transportation of instruments which are seen with suspicion as potential weapons transported in public, an instance which almost involved police action in the past. Backpack is wholly contingent on access and support, two of the many factors that have been further complicated by the advancement of Real Estate/capitalist projects in Southern California primarily Los Angeles.
Chairkiller (2016) 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 awkward fit into either venue or gallery space.
Galvanic Control Set/SIM (2017-present) applies aspects at the history of Automated/Auto-destructive works Spectacle/Manufactured Spectacle and a site of total control via representation. Films/events of dubious origin are reenacted through a total deconstruction of Set and Plot. Motors/movement are amplified and made primary in a variable setting. this reconstructed event is sent via Live feed through a projector further controlling and dominating the objects of attention.
Globster (2016-present) The rarest of all the critical bands, works the slick eclecticism, reformulated trends, and the typical fodder of electronic music trends popular and academic into a nearly commercial form. Salvaging material from corrupted Data files, damaged equipment, and low resolution globster is as of 2018 a total Studio Project. The difficulty in globster is the deliberate attempt at operating in neither circle of palpability, or recognizability for too long. Unlike the beached corpses of indeterminate origin Globster deliberately works to conceal its
The Hand of Glory (2016-Present) 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 lit 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/para-academic noise music.
Alan picks a member from the audience to handcuff and bound him while a modified backing track of a Giallo Soundtrack is played to distance and complicate. As alan Escapes, Hand of Glory replicas modified to produce flickering pitch patterns are activated in an otherwise dark room The hands take center stage while Alan clad in all black, Sunglasses and leather gloves, manipulates the signal of the hand via various electronics. Early Minimalisms use of Microtonal drones sampling, and patterns pair with Post-fluxus dance. Morbidity, heaviness, and associations to the occult, forced imagery on the otherwise neutral music further amplified by uniformal BDSM references historically to post-Industrial music and Powerelectronics despite no exertion of Pathos from Alan or THOG. A set specific backing track via other performers on the bill are played featuring pitched remixes of songs made unrecognizable and blended into the compositions to further push the historical agenda of the hand and so called "theft" in music. Total transgression through the act of nothingness
The Nouroboros Octet (2014-2015) 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 (RD) (2015-Present) 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 (2017, revived c. 2018) 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.
Tofighi Plays T.O.F.I.G.H.I. (TPT) (2018-Present) is a band that analyzes the history of computer music, information based conceptualism, modernisms obsession with chess, and postmodern obsessions with authorship, and the aftermath of "extreme computer music" in a post glitch processing moment. The T.O.F.I.G.H.I. Machine, in tangent with an automated AI equipped chessboard/amplified play Alan S. Tofighi, the moves and resulting effects are informing processing effects, and any and all defeated pieces are thrown into a spring revere tank. TPT is a live reworking of these strands of though, largely stagnant into the form of so called Extreme Computer Chess Music. supposed Durations of Human and Machine are performed through varying duration of difficulty, Neither performer plays to the speed of the other, and each works to simulate the other. Gridded control exerted by the apex in gear fetishism. Chess and electronics beyond the surface of metaphor.
Toys Not Music (2014-Present), 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 (2016-Present) 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.
Shirts (2012-present) In addition to live performance, albums, and photographic documentation the Critical Bands exist in the complicated form of the T -Shirt. The T-shirt proliferates, commodities, compresses, and disperses information in all the ways that "traditional" means of artistic production can not in the terminally fantasized world of the non-gallery.