The Lab

The Lab is a nonprofit experimental art and performance space located in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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Okkyung Lee & Bill Orcutt

Photo by Laurent Orseau

Photo by Laurent Orseau

7:30pm Doors / 8:00pm Performance
$15 Guests / Free for members
Reserve seats: member login or guest registration
Note: Please dress warmly – The Lab does not have heat

Okkyung Lee is a cellist, composer, and improviser who moves freely between of artistic disciples and contingencies. Since moving to New York in 2000 she has worked in disparate contexts as a solo artist and collaborator with creators in a wide range of disciplines. A native of South Korea, Lee has taken a broad array of inspirations—including noise, improvisation, jazz, western classical, and the traditional and popular music of her homeland—and used them to forge a highly distinctive approach. Her curiosity and a determined sense of exploration guide the work she has made in disparate contexts.

She has appeared on more than 30 albums, including a diverse variety of recordings as a leader, whether the acclaimed solo improvisation effort Ghil, produced by Norwegian sound artist Lasse Marhaug for Ideologic Organ/Editions Mego, or composition-driven collections like Noisy Love Songs (for George Dyer), released by Tzadik in 2011. In 2018 she released Cheol-Kkot-Sae (Steel Flower Bird), an ambitious piece drawing upon free improvisation and traditional Korean music that was commissioned for the 2016 Donaueschingen Festival by SWR2, where she collaborated with western improvisers Marhaug, John Butcher, Ches Smith, and John Edwards along with Pansori vocalist Song-Hee Kwon and traditional percussionist Jae-Hyo Chang. She also leads a intricately nuanced quartet featuring harpist Maeve Gilchrist, pianist Jacob Sacks, and bassist Eivind Opsvik that explores the lyrical side of her writing. 

Lee is perhaps known best for her improvisational work, where she draws upon visceral extended techniques, in both solo and collaborative contexts. Not content with static performance approaches, Lee routinely explores the spaces she performs in, responding to atmosphere, audience, or objects surrounding her, to produce an immersive experience. Recently her collaborative performance of Alexander Calder’s Small Sphere and Heavy Sphere—part of the Whitney Museum’s Calder: Hypermobility exhibition—featured interactions with repurposed objects activated by artist Christian Marclay.

Over the last two decades Lee has collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Arca, David Behrman, Chris Corsano, Mark Fell, Douglas Gordon, Jenny Hval, Vijay Iyer, Ikue Mori, Bill Orcutt, Jim O’Rourke, Marina Rosenfeld, and John Zorn among others. In recent years she’s performed in equally varied contexts, whether embarking on an extended tour with the legendary experimental rock band Swans or collaborating with visual artist Haroon Mizra. okkyunglee.info

Born in Miami in the year of Cuban missile crisis and educated in Florida's finest institutions, Bill Orcutt is usually recognized as the co-founder of the band Harry Pussy. Formed in 1991 and featuring Orcutt on 4-string guitar—a practice carried over, developed, and refined from circumstantial adolescent experiments in working around absent strings—and Adris Hoyos on drums and vocals, with a second auxiliary guitarist added in in later years, the group's sound centered on its completely unhinged ferociousness. Within those furious eruptions, Harry Pussy drafted the blueprint—combining hardcore punk's brutish speed blended with the art school caterwaul of No Wave—for the next two decades of noise-rock. In five years, they toured of the US and Canada with the likes of Sonic Youth, Dead C, Charalambides and Pelt and produced over twenty different releases on record labels of varying degrees of accessibility, most regularly for the Philadelphia-based experimental music imprint, Siltbreeze.

Twenty years later, Bill Orcutt still only plays four strings, but now they are attached to a vintage acoustic Kay that has withstood enough damage and repair that it requires custom tuning to stay in one piece. Sometimes clanging and ominous, other times mournful and slight, strangely alienating, but simultaneously vulnerable and cathartic, his music is compared with equal frequency to avant-garde composers and rural bluesman.

In 2009, Bill's newly established Palilalia imprint released the "High Waisted" b/w "Big Ass Nails" single followed quickly by the first major statement of his resurgence, “A New Way To Pay Old Debts.” These initial transmissions provided the aesthetic foundation—unapologetically improvised, bare bones and situational—from which Orcutt's Kay's evolving sonic narrative continues to reveal itself in audible real-time. palilalia.com

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Later Event: February 15
Zaïmph & Kaori Suzuki