Lisa Butel and Brent Cross are sound artists living in Vancouver, BC. They create experimental music using improvised live vocal looping, and vocal sound manipulation, improvised and live sound synthesis and sample collage.
Their live performances are energized and directed by their love of improvisational aesthetics that they have absorbed and crafted over years of involvement in the NOW Society’s workshop series held at the Western Front and 8east. Their music bends and drifts, rages and diminishes, layers and undulates and is original in each performance. Butel brings the analog world of live vocals front and centre to the music and delivers vocals from operatic to guttural and machine-like to demonic growls through complex and multiple loop cycles .
The music is a juxtaposition of vocal acoustic sound and analog and digital wave forms. Their sound explores the psycho acoustic properties of sound and attempts to create tension, release and structural fruition via changing and evolving, additive and subtractive synthesis and the affected vocal performance.
VEE – Vancouver Electronic Ensemble @ VCC Atrium (Jan 31/2020) Murmurs; CoexisDance Western Edition 2 @ Scotiabank Dance Centre(Dec 19/19) with dancer, Julia Carr curated by Olivia C.Davies; Fake Jazz Anniversary show(Aug 31/2019) with dancer, Iris Stewart-Bosch; Vines Arts Festival(Aug4/2019) with installation artist Glen Andersen (Beaver Cinema project); Mixed Input Series (April 16/2019) with videographer Emma Tomic; Brief Encounters(Feb10/19) with Jeff Younger, Jesus Caballero, James Meger and dancers Kelly McInnes, Isabelle Kirouac and Emmalena Fredrikksson; Quiet City #54 (Nov 8/2018); Trading Places Marathon 2018(Western Front); Drone Day 2017- Vancouver Game of Drones (Red Gate Revue Stage); Weird Canada Drone Festival 2015(Remington Gallery); Art for Impact with dancer Jay Hirabayashi (CBC Plaza); In the House Festival with dancer Olivia Shaffer; Connect Electronic Music Festival (SK); and Vancouver International Dance Festival (the Roundhouse).
Collaborations (2020) – Vancouver New Music One Page Score Projects
Lisa Butel with Lisa Walker – ENTROPIC (June 2020)
Brent Cross with Jessie Luo and Jordan Roberston (September 2020)
a low lament for love and loss 2020; The Feeling of Walking: Songs of 2020; HEAVY DRONES FOR LOVE AND TRUST 2018; helispectre 2017; Lbs 2015; Her X and the Wildman 2014; audio-lava released dark hum of the butterfly 2010 and embers and icicles 2005; and the Mudlarks 1996.
a low lament for love and loss (2020) – was formed from a 1 hour live improvised session. This album is fondly dedicated in memory and emotion to Marge Cross whose Heintzman piano and all of its’ glorious imperfections is sampled and featured along with clarinet playing by Johanna Hauser.
The Feeling of Walking: Songs of 2020 – This album is the sound and the feeling of our personal experiences as the pandemic developed. Composed of disparate parts of ambient sounds from inside our family piano, noise from an analog oscillator and sampled/prepared piano and the comforting sounds of voice. This music was a meditational process that helped us deal with the isolation and anxiety that we all felt and continue to feel. The album cover is an inverted photograph of Brentwood mall skyscrapers as viewed from Hastings Sunrise park at night. We refer to this park as the “Look Out” which has become part of our nightly walking ritual where we can connect with the view of the landscapes and “power up”.
HEAVY DRONES FOR LOVE AND TRUST (2018) highlighting themes of yearning, fighting personal demons and committing to love and trust through difficult life experiences. Lyrics are sparse, delivered with deep emotional intent and beautiful, haunting melodies and mesmerizing and ambient soundscapes.
Helispectre (2017) explores the relationships that we have with inherited fears. This theme came to the forefront as the couple traveled through northern Europe and Berlin. Confronting these fears led to the sounds that were improvised and recorded while travelling by train throughout Germany.
Lisa is passionate about the power of voice, communication and movement. Her initial training came through years of classical vocal lessons. Later years found her moved and intrigued by extended vocal techniques and improvisation, skills she continues to develop today. She commits fully emotionally and physically when performing .
Currently Lisa is utilizing found objects and electronics to shape, affect and loop her vocals. By layering vocals, foil affects, harmonica, toy megaphone, and chimes and altering the textures of those recorded loops she is able to preserve, shape and transform her vocal sounds in real time.
Lisa is fascinated by dance and how physical movement can be integrated into sound art performances. She has studied and performed with the following projects: Pierrot Lunaire with choreographer Olivia C. Davies, Blueridge Chamber Music Ensemble and Little Chamber Music 2019; Attractor at the PUSH festival 2019; Mountainview Solstice Dance (2018 and 2016) with choreographer Daelik; Le Grand Continental with choreographer Sylvain Emard at PUSH festival 2015 (Playhouse Plaza); Joe Ink with Move It (Firehall Arts); and Kate Franklin (Dusk Dance Performances/Dancing on The Edge).
The totality of her vocal, body and movement work has helped her develop a captivating and inspiring performance repertoire.
Lisa performs with the improvising choir – VOICE OVER mind choir conducted by DB Boyko participating in inspiring and radical projects for many years. A recent extension of this choir was to join with conductor Christine Duncan’s to back up Tanya Tagaq at the Vogue Theatre in 2017. Lisa and Brent also attend many improvising workshops through the NOW Society and participate in MAMM (improvised music and movement sessions) to continue to challenges themselves in improvising and collaborating with other artists in many disciplines.
In 2019, Lisa participated as a soloist in MUSICIRCUS: JOHN CAGE @ Polygon Gallery and for Brief Encounters with improvising musicians and dancers @ Merge and for the Mixtophonics Series.
Her influences include Bjork, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, Beth Gibbons, Tim Hecker, Colin Stetson, Anjou, Sigur Ros, Tricky, and many classical artists.
He is currently fascinated with developing a more compassionate use for his music through real time improvisations and composition, community and artist collaboration and developing heightened physical awareness to sound and it’s presentation in space. Brent is exploring the relationship between digital and analog sound and is obsessed with bending, time stretching, pitch altering, raw audio samples in real time during his improvised musical performances. Artists who expand physical and technical boundaries are of upmost interest to him.
His present recording project sees him focusing on altering sampled acoustic sources from his family’s past (piano, mandolin, guitar) and to create lush and ghostly sonic textures that illicit stories from the past. Classical piano informed Brent’s early musical training and then later he studied Electronic Music Production and jazz guitar at VCC College.