Gray Area and Recombinant Media Labs present
Drew McDowall – A Thread, Silvered and Trembling
with Chelley Sherman, CYRNAI, GAZAEBAL, & Nihar

Join us for a mezmerizing performance of A Thread, Silvered and Trembling, the latest sonic exploration by Scottish experimental/electronic musician Drew McDowall.

Drew McDowall - A Thread, Silvered and Trembling
Drew McDowall with visuals by Chelley Sherman

Friday, June 14, 2024

Doors: 8PM
Show: 8:30PM


Standing performance

View our FAQ page for more info, or contact us at [email protected] with any accommodation requests.

Scottish experimental/electronic musician Drew McDowall’s lifelong interest in an elegiac solo bagpipe style called pibroch (ceòl mòr in Gaelic) has been an inspiration for much of his previous work (including Coil’s legendary Time Machines). This form, often traditionally used for laments and for tributes to the dead, fuses modal drones with flickering dissonance and plaintive melody evoking an ancient, solemn mood.

His latest work, A Thread, Silvered and Trembling, both incorporates and transforms these elements via exploratory electronic processing, weaving an electro - acoustic tapestry of strings, shudders, voids, and voices, alternately disembodied and displaced. Co-produced with engineer Randall Dunn at Circular Ruin Studios in Brooklyn, the collection’s four pieces capture McDowall at his most elevated and elusive, in thrall to “the ineffable – that which refuses to be spoken.”

McDowall’s palette here is unusually eclectic, sourced from a dynamic orchestral ensemble arranged by Brent Arnold and comprised of cello, viola, violin, harp (Marilu Donovan of LEYA), and french horn. Ebbing between shrouded electronics and enigmatic, sometimes spectralist orchestration, the album moves with a seething, simmering energy, surging into elegant, uneasy crescendos. The first two pieces are inspired by a liberatory hijacking and inversion of a grim biblical story (and by a cryptic and strange UK simple syrup branding). Opener Out of Strength Comes Sweetness shivers with short echo and resonant pads, before shifting into the album’s centerpiece: the 14 - minute saga And Lions Will Sing with Joy. A murmuring electrical storm of keening strings and disorienting drones gradually grows darker and denser, until suddenly there’s a crack in the clouds, revealing mutated choral voices and sparkling harp. McDowall describes the track as “an incantation to help usher in a break, and a new beginning.”

The record’s latter half evokes a deep untamed animism shot through with spiraling radiance. In Wound and Water sways with harp, plucked strings and eerie cello undertows while lush layers of disorientated electronics hang in the dusk. There is no resolution, only a faint gradient of fragile dissipation, leading into the album’s harrowing and climactic closer, A Dream of a Cartographic Membrane Dissolves. Processed voices (credited on the liner notes to “The Ghosts Who Refuse to Rest”) contort, whisper, and gather as the rest of the ensemble sharpens, poising to strike. Then it does – grand, tragic stabs of strings and horns lashing the sky, storming heaven by force.

The fallout is poetic and inevitable, raining embers into a dark sea. But the journey and catharsis of A Thread linger long after it goes silent. Like so much of McDowall’s multifaceted catalog, this is music of immanence and alchemy, attuned equally to the sacred and the profane, to the tile and the mosaic.


Drew McDowall

Scottish born, Brooklyn based electronic artist Drew McDowall was born and raised in Paisley, an area just outside of Glasgow, and came of age during a time when the city was one of the most dangerous places in the world. Caught up in the prevalent gang culture of Scotland’s destroyed industrial cityscape, McDowall found a way out of the daily violence as punk took hold of the UK’s disenchanted youth. In 1978, he formed the lo-fi post-punk band, The Poems, with then wife, Rose McDowall, who would later rise to mainstream acclaim as one half of Strawberry Switchblade. Though shortly realized, the Poems allowed McDowall to network and collaborate with other local musicians in Glasgow, such as Orange Juice, and granted him access to travel down to London, thus forming friendships with Genesis P-Orridge, David Tibet and countless others, bringing Drew into the fold of the experimental cultural revolution happening in England brought upon by Throbbing Gristle and executed by groups such as Psychic TV and Current 93.

Chelley Sherman

Chelley Sherman is a creative technologist and liminal researcher who explores non-ordinary states of consciousness and perceptual illusions through immersive installations, data-driven biosimulations, and digital recreations of complex, dynamical and self organizing systems as her contemplating practice. . Her computational models give rise to emergent lifelike patterns and behaviors, forming the foundation of immersive experiences that serve as meditative psychocosmograms. These works engage viewers in an intricate dimensional expression of the vastness and fluid nature of reality through noetic perception and symbolic representation. Sherman leverages concepts like annealing, optics, fluid dynamics and agent driven behaviors to evoke the intricate, ineffable expressions of multi- layered consciousness in both the physical and metaphysical realms.

Her acclaimed VR installations have been featured at events such as the United Nations Women's Global Film Festival, SXSW, Nuit Blache and Mutek. Notably, Chelley's contributions to the development of real-time systems at Sphere Las Vegas and for Emmy Award-nominated immersive films have been highlighted in Time Magazine as pioneering advancements in technology along with her collaborations with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


CYRNAI is an influential Asian American electronic and experimental music project  who has been active for over four decades. Her fascination with sound design began at age 9 when she started using her father's DIY drum machine & other instruments. She gained inspiration from industrial pathfinder acts like Cabaret Voltaire and anarcho-punk groups such as Crass. Under the moniker CYRNAI she released her debut EP 'Charred Blossoms' in 1985, followed by the cassette 'Parts Of The Insomnic Wheel' (1986), and albums like 'Hypno-Seizure' (1989) and 'To Subtle-Drive' (1990). She played in San Francisco-based bands like Treason, A State Of Mind, Trial, and Rhythm and Noise between 1983 and 1991. Known for unusual recording techniques and unorthodox sounds, Cyrnai's music tends to  transcend  its avant garde influences . Her 1996 CD 'Transfiguration’ featured NY guitarist Elliot Sharp, while 2001's 'The Listener' included Tim Story. In 2018, she launched the 'Memoir Of Sound' website, an archive containing over 100 albums of her works, field recordings, and collaborations. Simultaneously, Dark Entries reissued her 1980-1990 output in a deluxe vinyl box set more recently.

She has participated in numerous festivals, including performances in Detroit, New York, Los Angeles in rosters alongside Morton Subotnick and Suzanne Ciani. Cyrnais music was also featured in the UK compilation "Third Noise Principle—Formative North American Electronica 1975-1984" Cyrnai continues exploring spatial audio & immersive AV, and will be featured in the RML CineChamber panoramic platform series in  2024 -25 along with her new album release.


GAZAEBAL is a sound artist based in Seoul. As one of the pioneers in the Korean electronic music scene, he has expanded his spectrum as a sound engineer, techno musician, DJ, K-POP producer, and media artist.

He began his career as a sound engineer in New York studios in the 1990s, working on recordings for artists like Wu-Tang Clan and Janet Jackson. He released his techno album "O.N.DA" in December 2000, followed by ANOTHER ONE in December 2002 and the digital single MULL released in the UK in 2004, which topped the UK techno chart in its first week.

In 2008, he formed the Tacit Group and transformed into a media artist. Tacit Group's works, combining technology and art, have garnered global attention and are still actively engaged. In 2014, GAZAEBAL initiated the WeSA Festival to foster the ecosystem of the rugged domestic sound/audiovisual genre as the artistic director.

Starting his solo project as a sound artist again in 2022, GAZAEBAL is expanding his work through various media and methods, including performances, exhibitions, music, and NFT. His audiovisual work UN/Readable Sound, which expresses dense sounds through dystopian game visuals, was selected as this year's new work by the Korea Arts and Culture Promotion Foundation.


Nihar (SF) is a Asian American experimentalist, musician and sound designer. Nihar’s live selector sets often mixes the sounds and rhythms of the 21st century global supply chain. Nihar has has released music on influential underground labels such as Squirrels on Film, Psychic Liberation, Jacktone Records and Ascetic House. He is also the co-label head of Left Hand Path, which has been featured in The Wire, Resident Advisor, Fact Magazine and elsewhere for its top track record of releases.

He has contributed DJ mixes to globally renowned series such as The Bunker NY and Honey Sound System.

Recent Releases: Machines (2023, Squirrels on Film), Rumble/Vermillion Garden (2020, Psychic Liberation), Chrysalis (2018, Jacktone)


Recombinant Media Labs

The Recombinant Media Labs organization was founded to research the qualities and artistic potential of Spatial Cinema. It does so by means of Experiential Engineering; exploring processes that propagate the aesthetic and technological boundaries of panoramic AV exhibition. RML acts as producer and presenter of hybrid artworks and performance archiving based on spatial media synthesis; intermodal works using image, light, sound and other disseminated media in three-dimensional space. The CineChamber is RML's curated, nomadic platform under the artistic trajectory of founder & Director Naut Humon plus a superhuman crew.

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