Darkness Sounding

Spaced out music during the shortest days of the year

Jiji, one hundred and forty-four layers of guitar, an infinite desert, a familiar object, Gulli Bjornsson, Drew Busmire, moonbeams, Andrew McIntosh, bristlecone pine, Holland Andrews, phone calls as art, Jodie Landau, Marta Tiesenga, experimental hurdy gurdy, Eliza Bagg, many bowed things, richard valitutto, Ann Southam, muted strings, nine hours of minimalism, Valentin Silvestrov, a terrarium with one guy and one dog in it, Alvin Curran, various digital rituals, Chris Kallmyer, bells too big to fit in a car, Andrew Tholl, driving music, Odeya Nini, concerts through a window, Archie Carey, time spent in a field, Lewis Pesacov, treasure maps, Christopher Rountree, three cycles a minute, sensory deprivation, Annie Saunders, rest, Emma O’Halloran, hikes, giving up on your devices, Andrew Schneider, aloneness together, Darkness Sounding, Wild Up

About Darkness Sounding

Each winter Wild Up embarks on a new venture, a series set against the darkest days of the year.

We ask: what is it about the end of the year? It’s dark already, our clocks have jumped. And even in LA nights seem to overtake the days. Pagan and sacred holidays abound: rituals collecting themselves around the darkness. We’re hungry for something new, for something wrapped and warm, yet we search for a newness unbounded by the trappings of the past. Wild Up’s winter festival Darkness Sounding is our ongoing response to these conditions and questions.

Darkness Sounding 2020 - 21

Darkness Sounding started last year as a questioning and yearning for something mindful during the year’s darkest days. Our thoughts centered around lingering nights that seemed to overtake the days. Twelve months later, our then-new sacred “rituals in the desert” have become fantasy. Our mundane rituals in home spaces occupy almost the entirety of our focus. Our previous questions about music, and its places making mindfulness and community, seem an impossible distance away from reality, and for that reason: music’s place in our psyche is more important to recognize than ever. We must question how art takes shape in our lives. We must question why we love and miss it so much. We must call out our longing for sound to take shape into music. Even through these most difficult and lonely times, we must not lose hope.


Your house, our houses, and other locations around LA and Joshua Tree
YouTube Live, IG Live, Zoom, Soundcloud


The entire festival is available to members of Wild Up’s Fan Club on Patreon

Darkness Sounding is available to members of Wild Up’s Fan Club on Patreon. It’s where we’re doing our season this year and probably next year too, and great news: it’s pretty cheap. A Fan Club membership is $5/month — that means $10 for the whole festival. Or $60 for a year, which gets you all of what the band makes for 12 months.

Join on Patreon



Festival Opening (it’s a zoom, but we mean it)

Friday, January 15, 5pm PST / 8pm EST

Gather with festival artists, talk about the future. It’s a zoom for real. It’s friends in a room talking about hope. It’s sad because we’re apart. But, it’ll be great to do something together.

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illustration of a laptop with people on zoom

Jiji, Bjornson, Busmire: Aleph, Desert Gaze

Saturday, January 16, 5pm PST / 8pm EST

You are in the middle of the desert. There is a campfire in front of you. You can stay here for days or leave anytime. One evening, a familiar object is passed to you. You ask a question about your place in time. Your question will be answered and its effect will manifest before you.

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illustration of a fire
  • Applauded by the Calgary Herald as “…talented, sensitive…brilliant,” JIJI is an adventurous artist known for her virtuosic performances that feature a diverse selection of music, ranging from traditional and contemporary classical to free improvisation, played on both acoustic and electric guitar. Through her impeccable musicianship, compelling stage presence, and constant premieres of new musical works, JIJI’s intriguing programming solidifies her reputation as the 21st century guitarist. In 2018, JIJI joined the ASU Music school faculty as Assistant Professor of Guitar, and is excited about her upcoming adventures as a resident of Arizona. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and creating weird sounds on Ableton.

  • Gulli Bjornsson (b.1991) is a guitarist and composer from Iceland whose music typically ties electronics, live instruments and visuals to experiences in nature. Gulli’s music has been described as “hypnotic” (News Gazette) “a knockout – wondrously inventive” (Soundboard Magazine) and “Virtuosic, modern, occasionally discordant, but still accessible” (Classical Guitar Magazine).

  • Drew Busmire is an Architectural Designer, Digital Artist, and Musician based in New York City. He founded the firm dBA Design and his work often focuses on the overlap of art, sound, and the built environment.

richard valitutto: simple lines / quiet music / silent songs

Sunday, January 17, 6:58am - 5:08pm PST / 9:58am - 8:08pm EST

richard valitutto performs an all-day virtual house concert, a livestream lasting from LA’s sunrise to sunset. He marks the passing hours in pianistic solitude — playing music of long durations and gentle contemplation, full of silences, simplicity, and quietude. Featuring works by Ann Southam (Simple Lines of Enquiry), Federico Mompou (Música callada), Valentin Silvestrov (Silent Songs), Alvin Curran (Inner Cities), and many others.

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illustration of a sun

Chris Kallmyer: Two hearts are better than one

Up for the full duration of the festival, the chimes are first installed at a fan’s home on January 23
Videos of all locations coming soon

Titled after a line in Bruce Springsteen's seminal 1980 double-album, The River, Two hearts are better than one is a work for two windchimes spread throughout the city of Los Angeles. Each set of windchimes will be lent to festival goers for weeklong listening sessions. The work will run throughout the four-week festival, departing Kallmyer's workshop January 18 and circling one another in conversation across the city. The chimes will not meet again until the end of the festival when they are returned to the artist.

If you are interested in hosting the piece in your home, please write us here. Share where you live in LA, and list all of the sounds you hear in your outdoor spaces. To do so, please go outside, find a place to sit down, sit down, and listen. Then send us a list of the sounds you hear — maybe a list of the sounds you didn't hear. Snap a pic of where you'd hang the chimes and we’ll select 8 listeners to welcome the piece into their bubble during the festival.

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illustration of the wind
  • Chris Kallmyer is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work focuses on sound and space. His unconventional musical works use everyday objects and other senses, such as taste and touch, to engage the observer in questions about the physical environment and our presence within it. Kallmyer puts pressure on the traditional audience-performer relationship, and his work frequently takes place in nontraditional performance spaces such as closets, igloos, museums, or mountaintops. Kallmyer has garnered commissions from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the City of Los Angeles among other spaces in America and Europe.

Holland Andrews: There You Are

Tuesday, January 26 through Sunday, February 7, by appointment
Friday, February 5th

There You Are is a series of micro-performances that take place over the phone. The performances were developed so each chosen participant can feel comfortable and intimately connected to a sound experience that was curated for that single individual as the "audience" at that moment.

Andrews, a vocalist and composer, has created a new work which will be emailed to each participant to be played in an available speaker or sound system in their home while Andrews then calls them to sing and speak to them. The piece begins with a text message from the artist as an affirmation and invitation for each participant to set an intention for the performance catered to them individually. In this time where most of our available forms of intimacy happen through screens, Andrews was confronted with an opportunity to find other methods of deliberate connection through performance. How do we find limitless compassion within so much restraint and fear? How can we explore new pathways of vulnerability in performance? What are you prepared to release to find new openings?

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illustration of a mobile phone
  • Holland Andrews is an American vocalist, composer, improviser, and performance artist whose work is based on emotionality in its many forms. In their work, Andrews focuses on the abstraction of operatic and extended-technique voice to build soundscapes encompassing both catharsis and the interplay between dissonance and resonance to tell stories of the interior worlds of humanity. Frequently highlighting themes surrounding vulnerability and healing, Andrews arranges music with voice and clarinet, harnessing the innate qualities of these instruments’ power and elegance to serve as a vessel for these themes. As a vocalist, their influences stem from a dynamic range of musical stylings including contemporary opera, free jazz, musical theater, as well as ambient, drone, and noise music. In addition to creating solo work, Andrews develops and performs the soundscapes for dance, theater, and film, and whose work is still toured nationally and internationally. Andrews has gained recognition from publications such as The New York Times, Uncut Magazine, Electronic Sound, NPR, and more. Holland Andrews is currently based in New York City. Andrews also performs solo music under the stage name Like a Villain, including a performance at ISSUE Project Room alongside Tyondai Braxton in 2017.

McIntosh: A moonbeam is just a filtered sunbeam

Friday, January 22, 6:29am and 4:41pm PST
Saturday, January 23, 6:28am and 4:42pm PST
Sunday, January 24, 6:27am and 4:43pm PST

A moonbeam is just a filtered sunbeam is the world premiere of a new piece by composer Andrew McIntosh. In his words:

After twenty or so years, I’ve finally found a creative outlet in A moonbeam is just a filtered sunbeam for the younger me who improvised for hours at a time on a detuned violin. At the time I didn't share that music with anyone, since it felt vaguely forbidden and like a cherished secret place. Moonbeam was created in 2020 out of improvisations on violin, viola, and piano that have been layered, edited, and electronically processed, with field recordings of the wind passing through Bristlecone pines, and a few sounds mixed in from my sample libraries of bowed cymbals, bowed wine glasses, and stones on slate.

These six “performances” of this forthcoming record will take place as previews of the near-final version of the album that are only available at sunrise and sunset over three days.

Improvising still feels unknowable and somewhat private to me, but here is what I can say about moonbeam. It is curious. It is defiant. It is not in a hurry. It does not apologize for itself. It doesn’t care that 58-minute pieces are impractical for the age of social media and internet clips. It is a celebration of noise. It is a celebration of wind. It is a celebration of spontaneous harmony. It is a celebration of stillness. It is a celebration of that which is wild and natural, and it is untamed. It is a rejection of the false dichotomy in music of perfection vs. imperfection.

I am not sure what genre or style of music this is, but I know that it is heavily influenced by the last eight years of performing and recording with Wadada Leo Smith in the Red Koral Quartet, and it shares some common ground with the work of violinist Tony Conrad.

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illustration of a twisted and gnarled bristlecone pine tree
  • Andrew McIntosh is a Los Angeles-based violinist, violist, baroque violinist, and composer who serves on the faculty of the California Institute of the Arts and performs frequently as a recitalist, recording artist, and chamber musician, focusing on early and modern repertoire. Recent commissions include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Industry Opera Company, Calder Quartet, and Yarn/Wire.

Saunders and O’Halloran: Rest Concept Film with EMPAC

Monday, January 25, 5pm PST / 8pm EST

In 2020, we created a proof-of-concept film to examine how our developing work Rest, an in-person music-theatre performance, might have an expression in a digital medium, i.e. as a screen-based or headphone-based experience for participants at home.

This proof-of-concept was created collaboratively with concept and direction by Annie Saunders, composition by Emma O'Halloran, visual concept creation, direction of photography and editing by Andrew Schneider, music direction by Christopher Rountree, dramaturgy by Adah Parris, Rita Williams, and Rachel Joy Victor, and creative consultation from Jackie Zhou, Mike Merchant, James Okumura and Brian Hashimoto, as well as over twenty thinkers and experts who were interviewed about sensory experience and the nature of consciousness. The music is played by members of Wild Up: Jiji, Jodie Landau, Allen Fogle, and Archie Carey, with mixing by Lewis Pesacov.

The work was inspired by research on the concept of rest, which revealed the profundity and magic of what we notice when we are able to pause: the play of light behind our eyelids, a patch of daylight moving across a wall, or colored lights of the city reflected in window panes. As a part of our dramaturgical research about what rest means in the modern world, we also conducted a series of interviews. Many conversations veered into discussions of managing relationships with screen technologies. We wondered if there was a way to make a meaningful experience informed by our research, perhaps interactive, perhaps not, perhaps including visuals, perhaps not, for audience members at home, on a device, either with a screen or audio-only.

The result is an audio-led experience with intermittent visuals. These visuals are light sculptures: made solely of real light and real shadow in a real room, without any computer-generated imagery, and filmed in real time. We may develop this work into an interactive film for two participants at a time on separate devices, or a solo experience for one audience member at home. In a different time, this might be called a work-in-progress showing or an open studio; an opportunity to share material with the public as we continue to explore the work and how it wants to be in the world. We hope that this experience might give you a glimpse of where our process is now.

It's the only piece on the festival that is open to members of the public for free. Take a look!

Watch the Rest Concept Film Now

Annie Saunders
Christopher Rountree
Emma O'Halloran
Andrew Schneider
Adah Parris
Rita Williams
Rachel Joy Victor
Jackie Zhou
Mike Merchant
James Okumura
Brian Hashimoto
Lewis Pesacov
Jodie Landau
Allen Fogle
Archie Carey


Rest by Annie Saunders and Wild Up was commissioned by EMPAC / Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY with support from the Jaffe Fund.

illustration of a void

Odeya Nini: I see you*

Tuesday, February 9, 7am PST, first come first served
Friday, February 12
Thursday, February 18 and Friday February 19, shows by appointment

As performances are one on one, space is very limited
Please sign up promptly to reserve a spot

* socially distanced work / dates are subject to local health guidelines

A private 5 minute solo vocal performance for a household, at a safe distance outside their home.

Sound is touch. Even with the reality of no bodily contact these days, we have been touching each other endlessly with our voices, and probably listening more deeply than ever. Connection is a matter of perception, we all now know that too well. These 5 minutes will remind us that there is a physical body at the other end of human communication, a body that is experiencing this moment in history with you, that feels you, that hears you, that sees you.

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illustration of a window that is ajar with a curtain blowing in the breeze
  • Odeya Nini is a Los Angeles based experimental vocalist and contemporary composer. At the locus of her interest is performance practices, textural harmony, gesture, tonal animation, and the illumination of minute sounds, in works spanning chamber music to vocal pieces and collages of musique concrète. Her solo vocal work extends the dimension and expression of the voice and body, creating a sonic and physical panorama of silence to noise and tenderness to grandeur. Odeya has collaborated extensively with dancers, visual artists, filmmakers and theater directors as both a composer and soloist and has worked with and appeared in works by artists and ensembles such as Meredith Monk, Butch Morris, Lucy & Jorge Orta, Wild Up and The Industry.

Archie Carey: Desert Sound Visit*

Saturday, February 13
Wednesday, February 17, 7am PST, first come first served
Saturday, February 27 and Sunday, February 28, 11am - 4pm PST, shows by appointment

As performances are one on one, space is very limited
Please sign up promptly to reserve a spot

* socially distanced work / dates are subject to local health guidelines

A 40 minute interactive sound experience led by an audio track through different stations on a vast slice of land in Joshua Tree. Listeners will be guided to tune into the silence of the desert landscape, engage with installations on the site, and sink into deep audio, composed for the location. Creating an experience that combines introspective meditation, a journey through the Mojave, and a safe distanced outdoor art experience in a time when our favorite institutions are unavailable.

Andrew Tholl: Selected readings on listening, work, dreams, noise, time travel, self-care, and the American way

Intended as both inspiration and distraction for those making the journey from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree for Archie Carey's Desert Sound Visit, this collection of 13 recordings features written pieces by artists such as Ian F. Svenonious, Milton Babbitt, Lester Bangs, Pauline Oliveros, Andy Warhol, and John Cage, read out loud and soundtracked by new works and performances from Tholl. These recordings can be enjoyed in a variety of ways: by car, bike, or foot; while cooking, cleaning, or sleeping; with intense focus, as background noise, or to simply keep you company in these times of solitude. There is no wrong way; the choice is yours.

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illustration of a joshua tree
  • For Archie Carey, air conditioners and ceiling fans play polyrhythms as the hum of an HVAC gifts a meditave drone. A child of history and eternity, he wonders what this time and place will look like 100 years from now. He’s positive in the face of stressful situations, most likely because he’s memorized all the “Jock Jams” of the early to mid 1990s. Archie’s worked with Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, Hildegard Von Bingen, Seth Godin, and Carl Sagan. Metaphysically, obvi. He’s a killer bassoonist and the founder/brewer of SolArc brewing, the official beer of Wild Up and possibly of all new music. And he’s one of the most creative and loving people we know.

  • Andrew Tholl is a composer, violinist, and improvisor. Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “vigorously virtuosic,” his compositions and performances have been heard across the United States and Europe. As a composer, Tholl’s conceptual interest lies in the exploration of the passage of time, the physicality of making music, noise, nostalgia, and memory. His style is heavily informed by a synthesis of musical influences, the integration of improvisation, and the development of innovative instrumental techniques through a practice-led approach. As a soloist and chamber musician, he is dedicated to the performance of new music and the collaborative process between composer and performer. Aside from his work as a “classical” musician and composer, Tholl maintains a second musical life writing and performing pop, rock, punk, noise and improvisational music as a violinist, drummer, and guitarist. Additionally, he has worked extensively in scoring for film, dance, and theater as both a performer and composer. Tholl holds degrees from Arizona State University, University of Michigan, and the California Institute of the Arts. He has served on faculty at the California Institute of the Arts and Moorpark College and currently teaches at UC Santa Barbara and Ventura College. He lives in Los Angeles where he continues to be involved with music for concert halls, art galleries, films, puppet shows, bars, garages, bedrooms, and coat closets.

Quick Response Shows*

TBA – Eliza Bagg
TBA – Marta Tiesenga
TBA – Christopher Rountree

* socially distanced works / dates subject to local health guidelines

A big part of what we miss about concerts revolves around having to go out into the world, to a special place, and find art in that place. For these Quick Response (QR) Shows, the audience is invited to find music out in nature. Alone, and maybe near some other people listening to the same music. Like a treasure hunt, these artists have picked spots for their music to appear, spots they envision the audience taking in the work while sitting in or moving around nature.

Eliza Bagg / Lisel: “Heat Signature”

In a quest for structure and routine during the endless quarantine — really a way to delineate the days, understand that time is passing — I have clung to two things especially: walking, and producing music in my home studio. Walking for several hours a day around my neighborhood to feel I'm connected to the world. Producing music to make something out of nothing, an antidote to the gentle, searing, numb waiting that seems to fill our days. Much of my music-making during this time has been without agenda or specific purpose. As the year progressed, I did notice some distinct ideas start to arise over and over again, and out of these persistent themes I have constructed a piece for Darkness Sounding: Heat Signature. It is to be consumed while walking, out in the world but alone, connected but solitary.

Every body has a heat signature. I liked that idea, I liked the idea that we can be detected, and how that plays into the traces we leave behind us, the marks we make, the impact we have on the earth. Something that keeps coming up for me as I make music during this time is the sensation that we’re falling in an uncanny and gentle way into a catastrophic world. We wake up every day and accept more and more things that once seemed absurd, and then we order takeout and try to maintain a coherent schedule. It is uncanny. We're simultaneously dealing with a sense of monotony and tedium alongside the sobering light of hovering doom, and the anxiety of our own culpability. I keep feeling as if we live in a time of combined despair and ecstasy, we want to run away and forget the reality of the crumbling world, and we want to revel in our own excesses. I find myself wanting to make music that is even more beautiful, lush, wondrous even as it becomes more distraught — an anxious euphoria.

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illustration of tall wild grasses
  • Eliza Bagg is a Los Angeles-based experimental musician. As a vocalist, Bagg has collaborated with many prominent experimental artists — from performing in Meredith Monk’s opera Atlas with the LA Philharmonic to touring regularly as a member of Roomful of Teeth and singing Philip Glass with the Bang on a Can All-Stars. She has sung as a soloist with some of the world’s top orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, and the Chicago Symphony. She has worked closely with and premiered music by composers like John Zorn, Caroline Shaw, David Lang, Julianna Barwick, Ted Hearne, Michael Gordon, and Ellen Reid, and has performed at venues from The Kitchen to Iceland Airwaves to Lincoln Center.

    During the Covid-19 pandemic, Eliza has contributed to multiple large-scale recording projects while in quarantine, including Ellen Reid’s Soundwalk with the New York Philharmonic, and a new piece by Angelica Negron with Opera Philadelphia.

    Bagg also writes, produces, and performs an art-pop project as Lisel, whose music has been called “otherworldly, warped” (Stereogum) and “billowing, crystalline” (Gorilla vs. Bear). Bagg has been noted for her use of extended techniques and unique vocal sound, which Pitchfork compared to "a lovelorn alien reaching out from the farthest reaches of the galaxy" and is the basis for the ethereal, otherworldly landscape of her music. While operating equally and substantially in both the classical and pop worlds, it is a priority for Bagg to erase logistical, aesthetic, and philosophical differences that exist between the two and create work that combines the urgently relevant sounds of pop with high-concept interdisciplinary performance.

  • Marta Tiesenga, originally from Chicago, IL, is an LA-based interdisciplinary artist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and animator currently pursuing a dual Master’s degree in Composition - Experimental Sound Practices and Experimental Animation at California Institute of the Arts. At CalArts, they study with Michael Pisaro, Eyvind Kang, Sara Roberts, and Ulrich Krieger. Previously, Marta earned their BM in Saxophone Performance from the Eastman School of Music, studying under Professor Chien-Kwan Lin. In their work, Marta explores and experiments with intersections between music cognition, music theory, repetition, composition, language and nonverbal communication, transience, and experience. They work with images, sound, performance, and strive to find an encompassing synthesis between media with inter-sensory art.

  • Conductor and composer Christopher Rountree is the artistic director of Wild Up. He has also been co-artistic director of an interdisciplinary ambient series in an oak grove in LA, called SILENCE, curator of the LA Phil’s Fluxus Festival, and Drum Corps International Individuals Euphonium Solo Champion of 2004. He’s made music at Palais Garnier, Lincoln Center, and Mile High Stadium. He is a seventh-generation Californian and lives in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Darkness Sounding is made possible through generous support from Ruth Gilliland and Arthur Rieman, and Bill Anawalt.
Design by Visual Issues | Art Direction and Web Development by Traci Larson, Illustrations by Lindsey Garland Domes