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Michael Deragon Presents a Vast Habitat of the Uncanny at 2220 Arts + Archive

Michael Deragon Doing His Thing at 2220 Arts + Archive (Photo by John Lavitt)

At the downtown LA-based club, Michael Deragon offers an eerie set of electronic explorations into the uncanny as Noah Thomas plays the trumpet like a reflection of humanity’s plaintive cry.

By John Lavitt

Los Angeles CA (The Hollywood Times) 03-16-2024

On March 5, 2024, the multi-hatted Michael Deragon, multimedia visual artist, film composer, and electronic musician, brought his electronic explorations to the 2220 Arts + Archive. As a representative of Vast Habitat Records, an independent label focused on electronic explorations, dark ambient soundscapes, and other cinematic manifestations of music, Deragon’s music filled the space with a sense of supernatural foreboding and an alien wonder. Founded by Michael Deragon and Daniel Lea in 2023, Vast Habitat’s first releases were Deragon’s Dawn cassette and Lea’s Entheogen CD. They have gone on to put together a Mix Tape Collaboration series with a variety of creative talents.

Formerly the Bootleg Theater, 2220 Arts + Archive was a perfect location for this show. Populated by musicians and intellectuals, hipsters and punks, the club presents a wide array of cultural offerings. Thus, the denizens of a downtown weekday night were open and willing to accept the alternative. Indeed, there is a constant hunger at 2220 Arts + Archive for the other in the form of groundbreaking expression. To the delight of the receptive crowd, Michael Deragon’s music did not disappoint. The set was an extension of Michael Deragon’s expression when he recorded Heliochrysum with Daniel Lea for Bedroom Community Records out of Iceland in 2022.

Beyond recording and performing, Michael Deragon is also a Sound Artist and Composer for Moving Pictures. Although he deeply enjoys his ventures into independent filmmaking like Moon Garden and Cold Brook, it does not seem surprising that mainstream Hollywood stumbled across his creative genius. When he put together the 2022 science fiction disaster film Moonfall, legendary German director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, Stargate) could not find the right otherworldly music for the alien entities. Day after day, he heard the same boring retreads until his sound designer came across Michael Deragon’s music for a short film. Hearing the tracks, Emmerich knew he had found the perfect sound.

Michael Deragon and Noah Thomas Perform at 2220 Arts + Archive

Indeed, there is a sense that every science fiction director and producer for television and film should have been at 2220 Arts + Archive on March 5th. Michael Deragon’s electronic explorations are not weird for the sake of being weird. Instead, they are intriguing and explore the boundaries of musical expression. Such dives lead to unexpected places, and the unexpected always has the power to be terrifying. His haunted soundscapes have the incredible ability to be peaceful and uncomfortable simultaneously.

As a direct result, you want to stay and listen to Michael Deragon’s explorations of these vast habitats of sound, but you also feel like something is pushing you to be cautious. The music almost makes you feel like your humanity is in danger of being uncovered, a blanket pulled away to reveal our hypocrisy and cruelty. Hence, having Noah Thomas on trumpet was a redemptive aspect of the show. Thomas played with a precision and passion that was unflappable.

Filtered through Deragon’s sound board, the plaintive cries of the trumpet were like a call to the best of humanity. Indeed, there is something beautiful and lasting in our souls, and we can survive the assault of technology and alien invasions. Michael Deragon, however, would warn us that the most dangerous threats come from within, and it is our choice whether or not we fall to our most dangerous enemy, which is always ourselves. If you want to see the face of your redeemer, look in a mirror and embrace the responsibilities of your destiny.

Photos by John Lavitt and Adam Badlotto