Calgary group knows the virtues of LEDs

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Tetrix knows about the power of randomness. Whether it's on one of their nine CDs or during a live set, they improvise and play off one another to create a song unique to that set. They're an incarnation of musical randomness-- you never know what you're going to get when they take the stage.

They've been at the music game for years, releasing their first album all the way back in the seemingly-ancient year of 2001 on CD-Rs no less. The group has been chipping away at the local scene, creating their own little niche of free-form jazz-electro-psychodelia distinct from anything Calgary has to offer. With their coming show at That Empty Space with post-rockers Mid-Atlantic, the guys will even lug all their fancy video equipment to the venue for a sumptuous multimedia, multi-sensory feast for the eyes, ears and maybe nose.

"We started off with [the video show] a long time ago and since we're all improvised live, we wanted something that would bring the crowd more because watching people improvise isn't very exciting," explains Connor Gottfried, one of the many multi-instrumentalists in the band. "The idea behind it was, in the early stages, 'Hey, let's make this more of a show.' Each year we add something here or something there."

Tetrix understands that while the music is an important part of any show, what can really make a live band stand out is a good ol' fashioned light show, usually involving lasers and pulsing lights. Using a computer set-up, the dudes in the band have built an impressive show full of flashing, pulsating things to catch the ADD-afflicted hipsters' attentions. Gottfried even says that one of the band members had a laser glove.

There's one problem: all these lights draw a lot of power. While regular lighting equipment uses a lot of electricity, LEDs use only a small fraction of that. So Tetrix is going green, sort of.

"Fuck, we've been adding tons of new LEDs to our shows," says Gottfried. "The thing with LEDs is that they don't get hot, they're a little smaller and they're a bit easier to control using computers because they don't draw as much power. There are some new generations of LEDs that take about one amp per LED. It's a pretty high-powered thing."

If shiny lights can't grab an audience's attention, then the videos will. Using Macromedia Director to play innumerable videos from the band's collection, once the video starts it's left up to the power of chance and the computer's circuitry. Tetrix uses the human brain's ability to correlate the sights and sounds together to help use their music and movies to their advantage.

"Once we press go for each set, the whole [video set-up] just works itself," Gottfried explains. "People tend to see stuff in [the video] that corresponds to the song even though the videos and everything is randomized. People will come up to us afterwards and ask us, 'How did you co-ordinate your videos with your songs?' It's just the power of randomness."