Free-improv festivities

The first annual Smash Palace
By SUSANNA BOLLE  |  November 24, 2008


Among the things for which to give thanks in 2008, the thriving experimental-music scene here in Boston is high on the list. This week at the Cambridge YMCA in Central Square, you can celebrate in seasonal style with a heaping helping of the area's finest electro-acoustic, improv, and noise music at the first ever SMASH PALACE.

Billed as "a three-day collision of noise and people" (the name refers to a car-centric 1982 New Zealand film that takes place in an auto-wrecking yard), Smash Palace was put together by three Boston musicians: percussionist Ricardo Donoso, saxophonist Dave Gross, and thereminist James Coleman. For Gross and Coleman, this is their second stab at organizing a locally focused festival. Back in the late '90s, they were the driving force behind the influential Autumn Uprising, which was devoted to the free-improvisation scene.

Donoso, who's behind the vibrant noise and experimental music series at the Piano Factory, is in his first go at organizing something on this scale, but he was the impetus for the project. "I wanted to do something on a larger scale showcasing local talent. I really feel Boston has an incomparable experimental-music scene that needs to be shared and displayed."

The festival line-up supports that contention, showcasing a musical breadth and depth that would be the envy of a city twice Boston's size. The acts include veteran reel-to-reel masters Jason Lescalleet and Jed Speare, Keith Fullerton Whitman and his modular synth stylings, and Boston's own improv supergroup the BSC. For the full rundown, with interstitial DJs, check the Web site.

SMASH PALACE FESTIVAL | Cambridge YMCA, 820 Mass Ave, Cambridge | December 4-5: 8 pm; December 6: 3 + 8 pm | $10 per night; festival pass $20 advance/$25 door |

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