Stephen Hamm has been a pivotal member of the Vancouver Music and Arts scene for over 25 years. He’s played bass, keyboards and sang in bands like Slow, Tankhog, Canned Hamm and Nardwuar And The Evaporators. The Georgia Straight once called him ‘legendary’. Stephen in recent years has shifted his focus to mastering the Theremin an early electronic instrument that one does not touch but plays by interacting with magnetic fields around two antennae. In recent years Stephen has studied under the tutelage of German Theremin virtuoso Carolina Eyck and New York based Thereminist Dorit Chrysler. Stephen’s solo show, based around Theremin and Synthesizer is an psychedelic electro musical journey into new abstract dimensions of sound!
THIS IS WHAT ELDER GOD PRODUCTIONS BLOG HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE RECENT SHOW AT THE RICKSHAW THEATRE IN VANCOUVER:
Taking the stage first on Friday night at the Rickshaw Theatre was a solo act that used pre-recorded tracks, Stephen Hamm: Theremin Man. Normally a solo act where it's just one person doing their thing does nothing to spark my interest especially not at a venue like Rickshaw.
Of course normally said solo act doesn't rock a theremin, so such preconceived notions are out the door. Getting to witness an expert using a notoriously difficult-to-master instrument was fantastic, a journey into the farthest reaches of space where that unique sound takes you.
Looking like Vincent D’Onofrio if he lived in a hippie commune, they stood center stage with the theremin and a laptop that played pre-recorded tracks in the new wave/electro-rock vein. When the main draw is the theremin, it makes sense to minimize the rest of the “band”. Can bust out a theremin concert just about anywhere.
For those that don't know, a theremin is an instrument you play without touching. It reacts to how close the person is to it, playing with the magnetic fields surrounding it. It was the product of early Soviet government-sponsored research into proximity sensors, so you know, commie shit.
While watching this master manipulate those magnetic fields they made it look easy. The weaving of their hands, each finger moved, the slightest nuance manipulating the sound just so. The theremin emits such a spacey, otherworldly sound the songs sort of pick you up drifting you along with them.
I thoroughly enjoyed this set and have been digging into their music on Bandcamp, of which there is a good selection. They got me moving, which is essential for Him, and entertained the hell out of me with a rarely-seen instrument.
“Stephen Hamm: Theremin Man discusses his journey from playing in legendary Vancouver bands such as Slow and The Evaporators to communing with the universe as a theremin-wielding one-man band.”
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