Many of us got into unexpected things during the isolation of 2020. Lyon Forrest Hill got into beatboxing.
The wizardly skilled puppeteer and artistic director of the Columbia Marionette Theatre shows off his surprising new talent during this week’s “1 or 2,” presenting a piece called “Ennui Go,” the title a heartwarming nod to dearly departed local indie rock outfit Can’t Kids. The puppeteering is spare — a black wireframe bird slowly flaps its wings during a brief passage — and the emphasis is on the bright, skittering beats, which build impressively from electronics and chopped-and-screwed samples of Hill’s voice.
The results are propulsive but hypnotic, and winningly human despite the non-human filters. The energy and optimism they convey — making the dark bird feel more like an illustration of hope than the traditional doom and gloom — has much in common with that of indie electronic favorite Dan Deacon.
Watching Hill do something so purposefully weird and different in front of the huge Hubbell disk in Five Points, as cars pass carelessly by, is a potent reflection of this disconnected year — and a reminder that cool new things can take root under trying circumstances.
The "1 or 2" socially distanced performance series was started to keep Columbians connected with local artists during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to allow those artists to get paid for their work when such opportunities are hard to find. Free Times remains grateful to our partners in this endeavor — One Columbia, Richland Library and SceneSC — for helping us keep it going.
To check out more "1 or 2" videos, all of which are freely accessible without an online subscription, head to free-times.com/1or2.
(SHOT AND EDITED BY DAVID STRINGER)