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God of Gaps and the Exorcism of Live Noise

photo by Mark Duggan via Mark Kedzierski
“BUFFALO -- It is a crime that has ripped two communities apart in very little time. Angela M. Conte and Mark P Kedzierski were found brutally murdered late Friday night on the property of the historical Abdell Farmhouse located in the small town of Cazenovia - nearly 173 miles from their hometown of Buffalo, NY.”

Setting the scene for what Conte describes as the “best set of my entire life,” this faux news article, taken from Conte’s “Sparklebomb” Instagram account, created the premise for a legendary collaborative performance between upstate, NY noise giants God of Gaps (Mark Kedzierski) and Sparklebomb (Angela Conte). On July 31, 2015, the two performed together at Black Dots, a Buffalo record store, under the premise that they had been brutally murdered, falling victim to “extreme blunt force trauma to the head caused by a hammer.” Kedzierski and Conte gave candles to each of the audience members at the beginning of the set, and Conte walked around the room at different times in the development of the piece, snuffing out individual’s candles, with Kedzierski metaphorizing the act: “Snuff out the candle / snuff out their life.” A dark and gruesome scene that often permeates his God of Gaps performances, Kedzierski maintains that such darkness conveyed in music acts as a release of violence, anger, anxiety, and other sorts of ugly emotions that undoubtedly comprise much of the human experience. Ironically, Kedzierski has been described as a calm and collected person, which shows in his friendly mannerisms and humble speaking on his art. A further testament to his patience and pedagogical spirit, Conte praises Kedzierski for his assisting in practice for the collaborative show, citing that he patiently taught her how to scream without ruining vocal cords. Kedzierski states that this sort of music, noise and other “harsher” genres, attract people that need this sort of release, and that people identify with this at his performances and vice versa.

One meaning of life illuminates in sharing our own experiences and emotions and hearing others’ stories, creating community by existing in a collective experience. Kedzierski is no stranger to this sentiment. “I’m trying to leave everything out on the table; I’m opening myself up ... I’m giving everything to the people that are in front of me. I usually ask people to come as close as possible, because we’re all together and we’re all enjoying the same thing.” While this sort of raw expression and collective experience can fulfill artists and their audiences in multitudinous ways, creating this sort of intimacy can be absolutely nerve-wracking. As do many artists, Kedzierski speaks on how his social anxiety can create difficulties in creating and performing but solves this problem by managing the environment.

God of Gaps, named after the logical fallacy in which people justify blind faith by gaps in scientific knowledge, is known to feature an extremely dark room during performances, save for one spotlight that he employs to see his equipment. Kedzierski will often begin the set with something jarring or a rhythmic sample to help himself enter a headspace he describes as “outer space.” It’s in this place that many artists come to create and manifest their many facets of self, and often the goal of creating art is to reach this place. When remembering his favorite sets, Kedzierski provides a particular New York City show where he found a great balance between entering this subconscious “outer space” and existing in the room with the crowd, attributing the quality and flow of the performance to this balance. Despite the use of dangerous music equipment leaving a gash to his face, this set meandered fluidly, to great excitement for the audience. While harsh noise can become repetitive when done carelessly, Kedzierski works tirelessly to “never play the same set twice” by building new ways to make sound and outlining sets while leaving room for artistic freedom and sections of improvisation. While in popular music many artists perform live to advertise a recorded product, God of Gaps will always focus on the live performance as primary, with recordings serving as a way to entice new listeners to attend showcases and meet Kedzierski at his purest.

To create these captivating live performances, Kedzierski will employ shocking homemade instruments and sound devices, often comprised of concrete blocks with embedded contact microphones struck by a hammer or gnashed by a hacksaw; he laughingly recalls demolishing a pillowcase full of piggy banks with a sledge hammer. These instruments provide entertainment for Kedzierski as well, noting that his excitement is mirrored by the crowd, building a special experience for everyone involved. In addition to these physical methods of sound making, God of Gaps sets receive influence from a number of facets of Kedzierski’s life and experiences. A courier for the Thruway Authority, he will often take field recordings and samples from traffic and construction sites, even applying hobbies such as table tennis as sounds to aid his craft and mirror his life. Using these excitingly alien and strangely familiar sounds and textures, Kedzierski can bring anyone attending into his communal state of “outer space,” which he will do again on November 23, 2018 at Buffalo’s Mohawk Place, performing a highly anticipated collaborative set with CAGES’ Nola Ranallo.

written by Jesse James Kaufman

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