Here is a MIDI demo of movement one of Gilgamesh Suite, a commission from the Locrian Chamber Players. The piece is scored for flute, harp, prepared piano, and string quartet and is based on my 2011 theatre score for Gilgamesh Variations. It is written to commemorate the John Cage centenary.
Musicians: Günter Gläser, Kawol Samarkand, Roger Sundström, Peter Thörn, Glenn Smith, J.C. Combs, Lee Noyes, Kavin Allenson, Steve Moyes, Richard Sanderson, Paul Muller, Lydia Busler-Blais, Benjamin Smith, Jérôme Poirier, Fabio Keiner, Norbert Oldani, Chris Vaisvil, Steve Layton, Paulo Chagas, Steve Moshier, Bruce Hamilton, Shane Cadman, Jim Goodin.
After a year’s hiatus, Signal to Noise, the journal of improvised and experimental music, has released a print issue (#63 Spring 2012). It’s just hit newsstands and, if you can’t find it at your local bookseller/news vendor, is available via the magazine’s website.
Issue #63 includes a feature written by yours truly: an interview with free jazz saxophonist Tim Berne as well as many other articles and reviews (table of contents below). The hope going forward is that the magazine will publish twice yearly. StN is also maintaining a blog (I’ve been deputized as “blog master”), which you can check for regularly updated exclusive online content.
issue #63 | spring 2012
story: chad radford photos: alexander richter
story: steve jansen photos: pete gershon
story: christian carey photos: michael galinsky
NONESUCH EXPLORER SERIES
story: william gibson
DAVID GAMPER R.I.P.
Edgefest in Ann Arbor by Lawrence Cosentino
Suoni Per Il Popolo by Lawrence Joseph
Anthony Braxton in New York by Clifford Allen
reviews of over 150 of the season’s key releases and reissues in CD / DVD / LP / download format
Speaking of record sellers, don’t forget your brick and mortar vendors this Saturday – Record Store Day. Lots of in store performances, signings, swag, and limited edition releases!
Carter Tutti Void
Chris Carter & Cosey Fanni Tutti (Throbbing Gristle) and Nik Void (Factory Floor) created Transverse for the Short Circuit presents Mute festival at the Roundhouse, London in 2011. Rehearsing and preparing these tracks in the studio, they then performed them live (and live to tape) at the Roundhouse. The results are head turning and head-spinning, with many complexly hued textures that prove a revelatory exhibition of sonic timbres. Tutti’s singing is often treated as one instrument in the midst of many, rather than the conveyor of narrative or explicit sentiment. Void’s guitar work is also unconventional; he contributes bowed passages and grittily sinewed strata that combine with Carter’s musicking into a welter of drones.
Transverse explores the continuum between noise based improvisation and more rhythmically articulated and pitch-inflected music-making. Carter Tutti Void make avant-electronica at its most exultant and the results here are a jubilant clangor that ups the ante for acts – both analog and digital – to follow.
The Philadelphia Recordings
RJ Valeo , synths, electronics; Justin Gibbon, drums, Justin Miller, bass and percussion
Digitalis Ltd. cassette #229
For a two day marathon of one-take recordings, Brooklyn/Atlanta electronic musician RJ Valeo joined bandmates Justin Gibbon and Justin Miller at SINergy Art Space, a 4000 square foot loft in Philadelphia. The result of their efforts is a cassette filled with reverberant soundscapes, populated by resilient grooves with swaths of bleary, effects laden live electronics. The B-side inexorably pulls you away from the toe-tapping ambience of the earlier music into a lush and leisurely paced sound world. It is a visceral pullback into the exhaustion of an adrenaline dump, signifying the end of an action packed weekend of music-making.
I can’t decide whether I prefer the trio at the effusive beginning of the session or during its hazy winding down. Fortunately, I don’t have to decide: one can just flip the tape over and enjoy it all again.
A playable schedule? Thanks to Hype Machine for this terrific idea and embeddable player (below). Check out when your favorite artists play the Unsound Festival 2012, accompanied by audio samples of their wares.
Temporary Residence Ltd.
Best known as half of The Books, an indie duo that incorporated both electronica and classical crossover signatures (before the latter was cool!), Nick Zammuto recently released his first solo LP for Temporary Residence.But rather than being a ‘music minus one’ presentation, a recording in which part of a distinctive collaboration is sorely missed, Zammuto has a distinctive sound all its own.
Its leadoff track, “Yay,” underlines that point with an interesting use of vocoder, crafting layers of beat-boxing in counterpoint to skittering live drums and sustained organ lines. Modified vocals are instead employed as longer melodies swaths on “Groan Men, Don’t Cry,” where they are set against syncopated guitar riffs, prog-inflected synth work, and funky percussion fills. “F U C3PO” combines appropriately sci-fi-sounding effects with saucy vocoder singing, taunting the droid mocked in the song’s title.
While this frequent employment of synthetic vocal production could, and, in other settings has, become a gimmick, here Zammuto uses it to provide a distressed, glitchy alternative to the lush sonic palette found on his records as part of the the Books. And don’t assume that the arrangements on Zammuto are only about gadgetry. One need only check out the bass line on “The Shape of Things to Come,” not to mention its varied array of percussion, imaginatively deployed and performed with zesty elan, to belay that notion.
Whether within the Books or as a solo act, one looks forward to many more interesting sounds from Nick Zammuto.
At least on paper, one of the more fascinating collaborations of the 2012 installation of American Mavericks brought vocalists Jessye Norman, Meredith Monk, and Joan La Barbara together with Michael Tilson Thomas and members of the San Francisco Symphony for a performance of John Cage’s Song Books. Complete with lighting, sets, stage business, camera work, and sound design, this was an ambitious undertaking. Unfortunately, it raised as many questions about performing Cage as it answered.
In the performance of the work last night at Carnegie Hall, Jessye Norman sang like Jessye Norman. Meredith Monk did Meredith Monk. MTT made a smoothie and tore up newspapers. But Joan La Barbara: now she performed a John Cage piece. Here she is doing the same work in 2011, with Ne(x)tworks at Greenwich Music House.
Hats off to Monk and Norman for reaching outside their comfort zones. But they were placed in a difficult situation. My wife, a director and playwright, described it thus: “It felt like all the things ripped off from Cage by bad experimental theater were donated back for one night only. And it seemed like the design team were having much more fun than the audience.”
It’s great that San Francisco is giving the American Mavericks another airing. And I’m really looking forward to hearing what is, for me, a dream program at Carnegie Hall tonight: Ruggles, Feldman, and Ives orchestrated by Brant!
But their Cage presentation left me with questions about how those interested in interpreting his music are to proceed. The challenge: creating a performance practice for Cage that doesn’t become its own museum piece of cliches. The scores deserve it. There’s plenty of music in them and, indeed lots of ways to present Cage entertainingly, but without so much shtick.
Students of Decay LP/Digi
Available via Experimedia
Bryter Layter is the synth duo of Joseph Raglani (who records for Kranky) and Mike Pollard (who records for Arbor). This is their second release (their first, Imprinted Season appeared on Arbor in 2009). Like many recent analog synth sets (particularly those of the short run variety) Bryter Layter isn’t averse to soundscaping and even occasionally luxuriating in a warmth bed of synth drones (see “Second Light”). But before one relegates them to the “synth drone” set, there are also several cuts here that focus on small wisps of melody, accumulating them into linear tapestries that bustle with motion and revel in the power of the ostinato. Indeed, “Understanding Independence” adopts a graceful balletic groove, over which are laid in succession several memorable and diversely hued melodies. “The Shadow of Your Smile” – which in no way resembles the standard by the same name – instead is filled with anthemic music for an alien imperial court: the type of sci-fi soundtrack that you wish more of the original analog adopters had thought to make. Recommended.