Friday, February 17, 2023 - 8:00pm

Friday, February 17th at 8pm ET, ISSUE is pleased to present musician and sound artist Thomas Ankersmit and sound artist, composer, and educator Dani Dobkin each presenting new work specifically for the Serge Modular synthesizer. In 2023, the Serge Modular synthesizer celebrates its 50th anniversary. Originally developed by Serge Tcherepnin in 1973, it is widely considered one of the most powerful and versatile electronic instruments of the analog era. The performance will take place at Brooklyn Music School in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Tickets and more info:

Unlike more well-known companies like Moog and ARP, Tcherepnin wasn’t interested in synthesizers as a tool for simulating traditional instruments (piano, organ, etc) in a cheaper or more portable package. Instead, he focussed on the potential of electronics to create previously unheard sounds and entirely new forms of music. The Serge Modular was deliberately sold without a manual or a traditional keyboard, encouraging experimentation.

To celebrate the anniversary, ISSUE Project Room has commissioned Thomas Ankersmit to create new music exclusively using the Serge Modular (with no digital effects or other equipment). Following a recommendation from Maryanne Amacher, the Serge Modular has been Ankersmit's main instrument since 2006. With this new project, he'll be exploring the boundaries of its capabilities to create an almost organic, musique concrète-like sound world, but he’ll also be going "back to the essentials" with a more purely electric/electronic sound. The music exists in the tension between abstraction and a more cinematic sound: noise, crackle, hiss, pulsation become thunder, fire, rain, heartbeat - with Ankersmit trying to "breathe life" into the electricity. This event marks Ankersmit returning to ISSUE for the first time since 2009.

Ankersmit is also in contact with Serge Tcherepnin himself, who lives outside of Paris and has written about his work:

“Thomas's concert was spectacular, among the very best things I've ever heard done on a Serge synth. Best thing was, I didn't hear a single bleep or bloop, or filter sweep, or driving sequencer beat. In fact, I heard nothing at all that I could tell was made using one of my synthesizers. That's genius.”

Dani Dobkin will present Weavings, a live composition starting from the ground up. In their words: “It’s a piece about patience. It’s a piece about healing and process. It’s a piece about not knowing what comes next, but that’s okay. It’s about transitions. There’s a whole big world in there. An electronic ecology, connected by wires, fueled by voltage. Non linear in nature. Actively suppressing a hierarchy. You can do what feels right. The Serge has been a wonderful mentor.”

This event is part of a series of performances, talks, and workshops that mark the 50th anniversary of the Serge Modular synthesizer presented in collaboration with The Computer Music Center at Columbia University and NYU. More details to be announced soon.

Thomas Ankersmitis a musician and sound artist based in Berlin and Amsterdam. He plays the Serge Modular synthesizer, both live and in the studio, and collaborates with artists including Phill Niblock and Valerio Tricoli. His music is released on the Shelter Press, PAN and Touch labels, and combines intricate sonic detail and raw electric power, with a very physical and spatial experience of sound. Acoustic phenomena such as infrasound and otoacoustic emissions (sounds emanating from inside the head, generated by the ears themselves) play an important role in his work, as does a deliberate, creative misuse of the equipment.

Dani Dobkin is a New York City based sound artist, composer and educator currently working within the means of sound, synthesis and ceramics. Recently their work has engaged with ideas of grief, decay, ephemerality and mycology. Past and recent collaborators include Yarn/Wire, International Contemporary Ensemble, CT::SWaM, Qubit and Women in Sound. As an artist and composer, their work has been showcased at a variety of venues and galleries including Dimenna Center for the Arts (NYC), Spectrum (NYC), Fridman Gallery (NYC), Shift 411 (NYC), Mom’s Gallery (NYC), The Wallach Gallery (NYC), The Rubin Museum (NYC), Public Records (NYC), Chronos Art Center (Shanghai), NextSunday (Tokyo) and Little Berlin (Philadelphia). Dobkin received a BA from Bard College and an MFA in Sound Art from Columbia University. They are currently a doctoral candidate in music composition at Columbia University and teaches modular synthesis at Bard College. Their favorite Serge module is either the Resonant EQ or the Dual Processor.