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Experimental and noise musicians are fascinated by sound. They can find it anywhere.

That ubiquity is what makes each performance unique for the artist and listeners, says Chris Durnin, organizer of Corvallis Experiments in Noise.

"What's nice about experimental and noise music is really no sound and no structure is off-limits," he said.

A song uses musical structure and lyrics to give listeners a sense of what they should feel. Experimental and noise music doesn't do that.

"It's really up to you," Durnin said.

People will be able to decide for themselves Saturday when Corvallis Experiments in Noise presents the "What is Noise? Fest" in the Majestic Lab Theatre.

The festival will feature 35 experimental and noise musicians from the Willamette Valley, including Corvallis, Philomath, Lebanon, Eugene, Salem and Portland. Each act will perform for 10 to 15 minutes, for a total of 10 hours of music.

Durnin said the goal was to get all of these performers under one roof as a showcase and celebration of Corvallis Experiments in Noise.

"Here's where we're at," he said.

Audience members may be familiar with some of the performers, including Sea Moss, a touring group out of Portland, Mike Gamble, a guitarist and Oregon State University audio production instructor, and Philomath's nOiZeHyZiX, aka Matt Kellam.

Durnin said Kellam does sound design for Freshwaters Illustrated, a Corvallis nonprofit that focuses on underwater photography, video and film, and environmental education about lakes, streams and other freshwater ecosystems.

Experimental and noise performances will showcase everything from ambient drone and calming, meditative sounds to abrasive sounds with harsh feedback that is distortion-driven.

"And then everything in between. We're going to have three jazz acts as well," Durnin said.

Many musicians will perform with instruments and electronics they have built themselves.

"Don Haugen of Eugene, he puts a contact mic on chimney sweep and gets beautiful sounds out of that," Durnin said.

Project Aisle of Corvallis, a welder, will play several musical objects he's welded out of pieces of steel. He also plays a giant saw blade, like a percussive instrument, Durnin said.

The festival and other Corvallis Experiments in Noise shows feature diverse performers, which is a goal of the group.

"We have people who play with disabilities. We have a 6-year-old on the list, Mr. Alien, he'll be playing a set," Durnin said. "We have a lot of people involved from the LGBTQ community, and people who are part of ethnic minority groups."

Video projection art by Grease Beast will be presented with many of the evening performances.

The festival will also have several art-related activities in two rooms next to the lab theatre.

One room will be dedicated to an installation performance piece by a Portland noise artist called The Halloweener.

The Halloweener will construct a makeshift surgical room and perform brain surgery on a robot he has already built, Durnin said. The robot will be connected to several TVs that people can play with to create lighting effects and more.

"He's a wild guy. I'm very happy to have him here to do this, because it will be very different, to say the least," Durnin said.

Another room will have interactive displays of DIY electronics and homemade instruments for people to try out. They may see creations including a standup bass built out of a wagon, skateboards built into instruments, and kitchenware with amps attached.

"We're going to set them up with small amps, so they can kind of tinker with stuff too and see how it all works," Durnin said.

Mid-valley artists, including printmakers and some painters from CEI ArtWorks and OSU, will create and share their works at the festival. Zines will also be displayed.

It's been nearly four years since the Corvallis Experiments in Noise group started playing shows in the area at Interzone Coffee Shop, Bombs Away Cafe, the farmers market, Majestic Theatre, Happy Trails Records, and art galleries.

Durnin is grateful for the support the music has received from the Corvallis venues and community members since the beginning.

"People have been really receptive to it, and it's been a lot of fun," he said.


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