By Robbie Nevel
It may come as a surprise to some who picture Miami as a non-stop dance party, but experimental music seems to flourish here under the surface of mainstream Miami culture. It may not be profitable – and to some not listenable – but it almost seems as if the total lack of an alternative to popular trends has stirred a small but potent movement in the other direction.
There’s long been the atonal, arhythmic, dissonant jazz of Kenny Millions, the infectious sonic nausea of Otto Von Schirach, and lo-fi weirdness of underground legend Dino Felipe. Now it’s time for the new guard to come in. A few standout artists have already established themselves and strengthened the experimental music scene. Everything from industrial to noise, to ambient is being explored by curious new musicians.
Mike Campbell, former guitarist for Ft. Lauderdale progressive metal band Suns of the Morning Star, is at the helm of more than a handful of projects that played several standout shows over the past few years like Manifest Test Subject and Malcontext. Always supporting the scene, Campbell has thrown experimental music shows in venues all across town. Of the local players, Campbell observed the eclectic mix citing those who give musically great performances and those who he considers “poets.”
The atmospheric Moirae has been gaining momentum in the metal scene in part due to the beautiful guitar work of Daniel Cintron, using heavy reverb and delay effects to create an almost choral wash of sound. Last year Cintron released his first solo album, a nebulous piece of guitar ambience, under the name The Sand is Our Throne. The follow-up, Psalm of Obsolescence EP, was released in November and takes the beautiful trip to an uncharted territory.
Also hailing from the metal scene is Randy Piro (Orbweaver), the man behind the heavy noise bombardment that is Death Talisman VII. His brand of audio terror has been deafening audiences since 2012.
“I really like horrifying sounds. Metal and Noise are kinda like saying the same thing in different yet related dialects,” said Piro.
One of South Florida noise’s most enthusiastic newcomers is a young man named Manny Serra and his industrial noise project Scapa Flow, influenced by jagged outfits like Throbbing Gristle and Swans, with a more chaotic twist.
“Experimental music is very appealing to me simply for the fact that there are no limitations,” explained Serra, “Plenty of times I would go to Kenny Millions’ Be Creative or Die shows and be amazed by the boundaries the artists break in there. The blatant disregard for conventional structures and ideas is inspiring.”
Serra is a new force when it comes to initiating shows. Although his bookings are still picking up steam, there is almost always a flyer up on social media for an upcoming event featuring sounds rarely available in a dance town like Miami.
“I’ve been throwing shows for almost 8 months now although they have been few [and far] in between. I plan to pick up the pace soon,” said Serra.
Along with friend, mentor, and sometime collaborator Jesus Traina (aka. feelslike), Serra recently released a split, Frustrator/Passing Through Split EP on their new label NoEyes Records.
For anyone curious about the scene, tonight Serra hosts Death Talisman VII, Booty & the Browns, The Sand is Our Throne, and Bishop Sleeve as well as Scapa Flow at the Space Mountain Benefit Show at Space Mountain. Also, the annual International Noise Conference takes place at Churchill’s on Tuesday, Feb. 3 and runs five days.