Rarely do I enjoy a concert with a pleasure so rich and so complete as the pleasure I experienced at the Pheromone preview. Put a flute in the hands of Meerenai Shim and she is a sorceress. Every track integrates flute, or flute and piano, with an electronic sound texture realized in a prerecorded track or created during performance with computer software or electronic effects. In the Scholes Street Studio concert, the lovely pianist Holly Roadfeldt teamed with Meerenai in enchanting performances of Emma O'Halloran's Pencilled Wings and the CD’s title track, Pheromone by Isaac Schankler.
Each composition employs a different form of electronic music production. The variety of electronic sounds kept me in a state of wonder. Meanwhile, the variety of flutes likewise fascinated me. I have always loved the sound of the lower pitched flutes, which provokes me to repeat movie scenes whenever I hear an alto flute in the soundtrack and draws me to the music of Henry Mancini, who frequently wrote for the bass flute. Pheromone includes not only these flutes, but rounds out the program with the other worldly contrabass flute, accompanied by the TI83+ calculator in Etude by Matthew Joseph Payne. Payne created Etude in a painstaking process of inputting hexadecimal numbers into the calculator. The result is whimsical and fun. This charming music demonstrates why compositions of the Classical era employed repeat signs. As soon as the music was over, I wanted to hear the whole thing again. Etude has no repeat sign, but I can toggle on the repeat function in iTunes and hear the piece as many times as I want.
I asked Meerenai how she got started with electronic music.
Shim: My first experience with working all the electronics and performing on stage was with Matthew Joseph Payne's Flight of the Bleeper Bird for flute and Gameboys. It was such a cool piece that it was totally worth putting in the time to learn how to perform with all the stuff. For Pheromone, I use the following for live performance: SuperCollider, Max/MSP, and Ableton Live.
When I asked Meerenai about her passions outside of music, she had this to say.
Shim: I am an obsessive dog parent and I love to do things with my dog whenever I can. I guess finding and eating all the vegan junk food I can find counts too. Other than that, music takes a lot of time and energy so it leaves little time for other passions but if I had a normal day job I think I would like to take my car to the race track on the weekends.