A reasonable occasion for unreasonable noise, the second annual Neon Marshmallow Festival has contracted a bit since its sprawling debut last summer. Everything’s contained, if barely, under the roof of the Empty Bottle, which has withstood gnarlier engagements. Some two dozen acts from every point on the experimental-music spectrum will perform over three nights—plus DJ sets and a Sunday matinee.
The legendary headliner is Morton Subotnick. The electronic music pioneer, now 78, changed the world in the late ’60s using a modular, voltage-controlled synthesizer he dubbed the Electric Music Box. His throb-o-licious headphone masterpiece “Silver Apples of the Moon” made computer-lab composition groovy for the counterculture and forecast everything from techno to 97 percent of the acts at this festival. Faves include the prolific L.A. duo Lucky Dragons, whose playful streak animates pulse-happy ambient ditties and blissful, art-damaged folk songs alike, and electro-acoustic duo Mountains, Brendon Anderegg and Koen Holtkamp, touting the downright sensual pleasures of their new release, Air Museum. Virginia drone maestros Pelt, so long a musical home for the late Jack Rose, bring their open-ended, amorphous collusion of folk tradition, minimalism, improv and psychedelia, along with fellow travelers the Spiral Joy Band, advancing its transcendental agenda through sonic voyaging.
In case it all threatens to get too hypnotic, look to former Harry Pussy guitarist Bill Orcutt to annihilate your weekend. Gloriously.