Several people jumped when Joe Mariglio coaxed claps of thunder and ominous roars from a laptop at North Park’s Thumbprint Gallery in December. For Mariglio, a Ph.D. candidate at UCSD, the merging of digital audio with a stand-up bassist was garden-variety. He’s played windows, doors, and a homemade analog synthesizer. Mariglio’s performances tend to elicit strong reactions: “A few years ago, I put two electrodes into a pound of raw hamburger on one of those George Foreman grills. As the meat cooked — and eventually burned — I used its electrical resistance to make an overpoweringly loud drone. Several people became ill.”
Current activity for the experimental musician includes “the planning stages of a software solution that will hopefully change how people work with sound”; creating sounds for two indie films — a “hallucinogenic sci-fi thriller and a paranoid slasher”; and the Universal Language Orchestra. TULA involves preteens at the Spring Valley Community Center who are taught to build and play three-way shakers, “hoseaphones,” didgeridoos, and “crickets — simple synthesizers I designed. Each one is unique, occupying a niche in a sonic environment.”
Mariglio calls this “empowering young people to make noise.”
How’s it differ from the noise they’re making with cell phones and iPods?
“The difference lies in intention and empowerment. An iPod is designed to enable its users to purchase apps. Therefore, most of the time, the noise this device makes is disempowering. It alienates us both from the means of producing the noise and from each other. Other apps further insult users’ creativity by ironing out all the things that make their voices unique. This literally happens in the case of auto-tune, but it’s omnipresent in the current wave of apps that pretend to enhance their users’ artistic prowess by constricting the field of available choices to only the safest, most normative options. I want people — especially young people — to know there is another way.”
Joe Mariglio will be at Ché Café on January 15, merging field recordings that include “hours of rain and wind sounds that I’m dying to try out” with Adam Tinkle’s “hypnotic Americana guitar”; and on February 2 at the Loft in UCSD’s Price Center, where he’ll present “a set of weird pop music.”