At Elestial Sound's inaugural GAZE festival in Gainesville this past January, blacksunblackmoon – the solo outlet for Tallahassee resident Chantelle Dorsey – held the room in a trance, soberly resting both arms in her lap as a Roland D-10 keyboard droned on, tones sustained by the weight of a La Croix can on the keys. This simple yet striking extended technique points to the experimentalism in Dorsey's practice, a compelling tension between the divergent aims of New Age and the avant garde.
"My favorite thing to play is always a piano," she explains. "Pianos feel like home." Though classically trained, Dorsey admits to always having been a "sci-fi geek," and is now chiefly influenced by New Age music. The work of Isao Tomita, for example, which draws from classical roots to explore futuristic themes, inspires her hopes to generate optimism while also exploring otherworldly sounds.
An admirer of and adherent to the works of Samuel R. Delany and Sun Ra, Dorsey's moniker blacksunblackmoon is itself a nod to Afrofuturism, a philosophy which overturns Western metaphysical symbolism of blackness and reimagines spaces where darkness shines in its own right. The dark sun and moon, as celestial counterpoints to their radiant counterparts, are mysterious unknowns but also places of new potential.
Equal parts the crepuscular ambience of Zeit-era Tangerine Dream and the dream music of La Monte Young, blacksunblackmoon creates ethereal soundworlds shaped by chance and open outcomes. Sometimes relinquishing control over performance variables like keyboard settings – or even key – to an audience, Dorsey forces herself to "truly be unprepared and experience the music in the moment." Accidental music in the best sense.
Orlando new music enthusiasts have the chance to witness blacksunblackmoon's first in-town performance this weekend during the return of the Accidental Music Festival Marathon. Organized by Christopher Belt and Beatriz Ramirez, both classically trained players, AMF is a program of international and local performers of new classical and avant music, now in its sixth year and with a lineup increasingly inclusive of improvised, electronic and experimental. Of particular interest from this weekend's nearly nine hours' worth of music is Elizabeth Baker's collaborative reinterpretation of North American slave songs, slated for the mid-afternoon.
As for blacksunblackmoon, however, spontaneity is the only reasonable expectation: "I'm never quite sure what I'm going to do and will often change my mind when I sit down. So, we'll both find out as it happens."