Circuit Scarecrow Live Performance Review
Back to The Grind café in Riverside, CA, Friday, November 29th, 2002

From Aural Innovations #22 (January 2003)

As the year of 2002 ended, there were many things beginning to reshape and take new form. Before any year-ending elements could begin a formidable transition, there were creative impressions that were beckoned within California's Inland Empire. On the evening of Friday, November 29th, a two-person musical collaboration out of Riverside named Circuit Scarecrow performed live in the basement of downtown Riverside's Back to the Grind café. The basement was a fitting space for such a volatile-style performance as theirs. This duo/project mainly combined the instrumental mechanic work of Tim Cosner and written/performed lyrics of Mario Nieto. In their live performance, the instrumental repertoire was keyboard, percussion-machine, effects-processor, and microphone. Cosner is controlling the keyboard, percussion, and effects while Nieto is directing all spoken and verbal portions of their set. It should be noted that Circuit Scarecrow freely uses feedback as an additional sound layer (very audibly unpredictable) enabling distortion and squelch intermittently.

As for the actual performance, it was an intense outing from start to finish. The often times drowned yet audible vocals of Nieto meld, oddly enough, with the heavy ended snares, ragged electronics, and murky ambience compiled together. The vocal parts at times seem to billow as if they were spoken within a mass of water. The jagged phrases expelling from the PA feed into Nieto's microphone but it doesn't seem that this bothers him. During Circuit's performance, Nieto probably positions himself and the microphone in certain areas of their performance space allowing recoiled sounds to create this effect. For those who crammed down into the dim-lit Back to the Grind basement for the evening received an earful of sound segments ushered by Circuit: "Utopia," "Electricity," "Axiom" and "Digitalis" among others. In total, this live set was a definite progression from their previous live sets. This set was more assertive and unrefined. Earlier performances were more reserved and novice sounding; this live set took a few steps in a forward direction. The November 29th performance was filled with pulsating "swirls of sound," white noise, disconnected percussive textures, and feedback-laden vocals that expressed some renewed musical directions. Cosner and Nieto put an emphasis on the end of the night by giving the attending audience a "white elephant" (fuzzed-out ambience) and the act of Nieto breaking his lo-fi microphone on the basement concrete to conclude their set. I'm not sure how most people felt about the duo's performance style but it could be said that it probably wasn't immediately accessible for many since it finds itself between a rather "abstract" domain and rhythmic familiarity. I feel that the familiar rhythmic elements make it something that can grow accessible for some during repeated exposures to their live performance and recorded material.

Circuit Scarecrow has a website,, that hints at some of its ideas but a live performance is where more of an understanding, or lack of, can be found.

Website address with contact info and musical content:

Reviewed by Rashad Salahuddin

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