Tonight at 6:30 PM, Phil Kline’s dreamcitynine, a new work for smartphone wielders and 60 percussionists playing a quiet accompaniment, will be premiered at the North (Hearst) Plaza of Lincoln Center in NYC. The work’s title is an anagram of the word ‘indeterminacy;’ appropriately, it is a Lincoln Center Dut of Doors commission to celebrate the Cage centenary.
The source material consists of sixty one-minute long stories, told by a range of artists, from Kline to Philip Glass to Andrei Codrescu. You can hear and download them via Q2 here.
Clarice: So, ahem, Nadia it was pretty remarkable when we switched from reading from the score to parts when we were working on Hayes’ piece (ed.: Steal Away by Hayes Biggs). It’s like the music took on a different meaning.
Nadia: I know!! I find that stuff so incredible. Sometimes I forget that a massive portion of our jobs as musicians (especially of the new music persuasion) is essentially translating visual material into sound. We’re kind of like professional map-readers. Do you have any notational pet peeves?
Clarice: Page turns of course… But other than that, just spacing in general. If notes look all bunched up, then it’s hard not to make them sound that way! What about you?
Nadia: My super-dork pet peeve is spelling; I hate it when chords are spelled out in ways that have little regard for traditional chord structures. It’s sometimes really hard to wrap your brain around a whole bunch of sharps and flats living together all higgledy-piggledy without regard for implied harmony. I know I know: super-dork. That having been said, I kind of love how notation is a kind of personal, no two alike sort of thing. It gives the performer so much insight as to how the composer may be thinking. Oh! And I can get kinda frustrated with things that are notated with very small durations (64th and 128th notes) which are then in a super-slow tempo. I understand a kind of freneticism may be what the composer is going for, but it just seems to add so much time to the rehearsal/parsing process.
Clarice: Totally agree on that one. Pretty amazing how this abstract system of symbols and lines and dots can be subject to so much scrutiny and discussion regarding interpretation. And how dots and lines paired with scrutiny and discussion results in beautiful music! Amazing!
Nadia: Yay! So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the type of music and programming that translates well live vs. that which is great to listen to on the radio or on a recording. There are so many types of gestures which are fascinating to watch people achieve, which cannot be really understood in a recording. Like even a pregnant pause, for example.
Clarice: For sure – the physicality of achieving a musical gesture just can’t be heard in a recording, and sometimes seeing that gesture is what makes the music translate to the audience. However, would you say that there is any music that makes more sense recorded rather than live? What about music in the rock/pop world?
Nadia: Oh decidedly. Stylistically that’s an idea Classical peeps kind of “borrowed” from the pop world to begin with, even going so far back as Musique Concrète territory. Like, think about how many times we’ve heard the exact same performance of a song like “Louie Louie.” That performance IS the work itself. Everything else is a “cover.” This can seem like a weird, alien counterpart to the Classical model (like, do I only do covers???), but yeah, there’s a lot more of that type of thinking these days, from things like John Adams Light Over Water to Nico Muhly’s The Only Tune, a piece I’ve performed a lot. When that piece was conceived it was as a recorded collage. When we play it, we are trying our damnedest to approximate the recording. It’s sort of the opposite type of problem from what we were talking about above, the “why does this music lack the visceral impact it had live on this record” type of problem.
Well, I’m super into the diversity of voices on this program. I get to wear a lot of different hats! (Jagged hat, lyrical hat.)
Clarice: Yes, I think the variety of pieces we ended up with is pretty emblematic of the wide range of excellent writing and composition that’s happening now. And as a performer, it really is rewarding to wear all of these hats! I mean, I’ve always considered lyrical playing to be a personal strength of mine, but over the years I’ve worked so hard on rhythmic accuracy through playing intricate music, and now I consider that to be a strength as well. It’s amazing how all of this diverse writing is in fact shaping the performers who are often playing music in the contemporary world. Do you think your focus on new music has changed you intrinsically as a performer?
Nadia: Oh, totally. Whenever you work on some weird skill, it changes the kind of mental space in which you think about everything else, really. The rhythmic idea you bring up is super apropos; I also kind of came from a lyrical place as a kind of a default, but the more I work on concepts of groove and flow, the more these ideas end up creeping their way into even the most lyrical stuff. Knowing more things as time goes on rules.
Well, lovely to chat with you, C, I can’t wait for the show!!
Clarice: Yep yep, it’s gonna be a good one!
Tickets to the Sequenza 21 Concert are free (the venue charges a $12 food/drink minimum).
October 25 at 7 PM
Joe’s Pub in NYC
Tickets and Tables are still available by phone.
Call 212.539.8778 to make your reservation
Those expecting Thurston Moore’s solo record Demolished Thoughts to sound like his work with Sonic Youth – experimental noise rock – will doubtless be surprised. The LP falls into Moore’s song-propelled, rather than improv-oriented, catalog. But it’s the arrangements that are game-changing.
The instrumentation is quite different from SY’s, with an emphasis on acoustic guitars and even strings. Moore explores this “softer” palette enthusiastically, but he never loses his conceptual edge. There’s still a dysfunctional tinge to the lyrics. What’s more, many of ths songs exhibit a druggy post-psych folk ambience: Moore attributes this to his observations of the college age alterna-hippy set in his hometown – Northhampton, Massachussetts (He even dedicates the video below to these fair minded NoHo inhabitants).
Whatever the influence, Demolished Thoughts is a pleasant surprise, one that suggests that Moore’s music contains yet more previously unexplored multitudes.
Thurston Moore plays the Pitchfork Festival tonight. You can check out his other tour dates, and a video for the album cut “Circulation” below.
Thurston Moore Tour Dates
7/15 Pitchfork Festival, Chicago, IL
7/16 High Noon, Madison, WI
7/18 Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theatre #
7/21 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre #
7/23 Portland, OR – Alladin Theatre #
7/26 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall #
7/28 Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour #
7/29 Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour #
7/30 San Diego, CA – Casbah #
# w/ Kurt Vile
It’s hard to believe that it has been five years since Hurricane Katrina. The CD release of Ted Hearne’s Katrina Ballads on New Amsterdam Records is a grim reminder that New Orleans still remains a beleaguered city, one that has yet to recover from the storm, doubtless at least in part due to all manner of official incompetence and governmental neglect. Source recordings that chronicle the previous administration’s bungled handling of the disaster serve as a jumping off point for Hearne’s scathingly satirical, yet often affecting, song cycle.
The record’s out on 8/31, but there’s a release party at Le Poisson Rouge to welcome the album on 8/24 at 7:30 PM. In the meantime, we’ve got a teaser video:
JACK Quartet and the International Contemporary Ensemble are the ensembles-in-residence at the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, Darmstadt this summer. Tonight at Le Poisson Rouge, our estimable colleagues will be giving a “send-off” concert, presenting a program of the music they’ll play in Darmstadt at 7:30 PM. Doors open at 6:30. If you make it to the show and see yours truly, say hi!
Chris Cohen is a member of the band Cryptacize, an indie quartet whose recently released LP, Mythomania (Asthmatic Kitty), is a fascinating, oftentimes whimsical, affair. It traverses myriad musical genres: psych-rock, alt-folk, non-Western music, and echoes of Fifties-era pop balladry. The album’s artwork, drawn by Nat Russell, mirrors the band’s sense of inquisitive playfulness.
Cryptacize has been touring up a storm in support of Mythomania, driving from gig to gig in a tiny Toyota Corolla, necessitating a stage show employing miniature amps and a spare drum kit. The band’s turned this supposed limitation into a virtue, ramping up the performance energy level as they bring down the amplitude; providing their entertainment up close at intimate venues for enthusiastic audiences.
Carey: What inspired the title Mythomania?
Cohen: The filmmaker Raul Ruiz was talking about Hollywood movies or something – we just liked the word for some reason. Actually we had to look it up. But ‘mythomania’ is also good if you don’t know what it means – ‘myths’ and ‘mania;’ both pertinent to our album. “Mythomania” really means compulsive lying, where you have to make up one story after another to justify previous lies.
Our music is created by a process something like that – not that we’re lying – but one thing leads to another in a compulsive kind of way, and you end up with something in the end that’s really weird and isn’t what you’d expect originally. I think that in general a person’s sense of reality goes something like that too – the narrative we feel like we’re living sort of self-generates and sends us on a very particular, self-determining path which seems somehow already decided.
Carey: I really enjoyed the CD’s artwork – how did you decide on images from the book This is the Smoke that is Inside You?
Cohen: Nat Russell is our friend from Oakland and we are fans of his work. We just came across the drawings and said ‘yes!’
Carey: Cryptacize’s sound brings together a bunch of influences, including Non-Western rhythms and vocal inflections. Would you tell me a bit about some of your favorite reference points from outside the Western pop canon?
Cohen: We are interested in all genres. If you check our blog, we post mixes there of stuff we’ve been listening to lately, so you could get more detail… anyway I would say I like individual artists in every genre, but never every artist in any genre. Lately I really like Selda Bacgan, Fairuz, the film composers Shankar-Jaikishan, Group Doueh, Etoile de Dakar, the Pearl Sisters… we’re pretty much open to whatever is unique/exceptional… a lot of that music is older stuff. I like new stuff too, like Fiji music, but I don’t know about as much there. It’s kind of like African highlife music mixed with rap, just drums and vocals, and they have really good videos on YouTube.
Carey: At the same time, pop styles from early rock ‘n roll to psych-rock are palpable. It’s great to hear you bring an intricate groove together with more straightforward rock signatures on a song like “Tall & Mane.” How did that arrangement come together?
Cohen: Thanks – I don’t know – Mike and I just started playing that rhythm pattern together on the cowbell and guitar. It was trial and error like everything else. We wanted it to sound frantic so we brought in the sped-up guitars…
Carey: “Gotta Get Into that Feeling” and “I’ll take the Long Way” are examples of another kind of music-making at which Cryptacize excels: the ballad. Sometimes, it’s startling how earnestly presented your ballads are. Given how cynical pop culture can be, is it difficult to allow a song to be earnest in its emotional appeal?
Cohen: No it’s not difficult. That’s just our natural personalities… I guess I think a cynical ballad would be horrible. Ballads should be sad! They should make people cry! How are you going to do that and be cynical?
Carey: Are you still driving a Toyota Corolla to gigs?
Cohen: Yes, although not for too much longer… 4 people’s starting to kind of push it for space.
Carey: Using mini amps and a small drum kit certainly keeps things streamlined for touring. How have they affected your musical approach?
Cohen: The tiny equipment pretty much made it possible for us to go on tour. On the money we make, we can’t afford to pay for much gas. We do like the sounds of our tiny equipment though! And it makes the sound-person’s job a lot easier, they like things pretty quiet on stage usually. I don’t know why, I love little amps. And my back loves me not carrying heavy ones anymore!
It’s Record Store Day on Saturday, April 18. This week, File Under ? has been covering events, releases and celebrations occurring on 4/18, but we’ve just scratched the surface. Some more are listed below. If you’re a North American reader and don’t find one in your area, amble on over to www.recordstoreday.com; chances are there’s a party in your neck of the woods too!
Barsuk Records has several artists making appearances:
- Ra Ra Riot “” performing at Flat, Black & Circular (East Lansing, MI) at 3pm
- Say Hi “” performing at Sonic Boom [Ballard] (Seattle, WA) at 3pm
- Menomena “” foosball tournament (!) at M-Theory (San Diego, CA) at 6pm
A number of stores will be giving away special commemorative Barsuk-label Jones Soda for the celebration, including Amoeba (Los Angeles, CA), Aquarius (San Francisco, CA), Easy Street (Seattle, WA), Fingerprints (Long Beach, CA), Lou’s Records (Encinitas, CA), M-Theory (San Diego, CA), Music Millennium (Portland, OR), Silver Platters (Seattle, WA), and Sonic Boom [Ballard] (Seattle, WA).
- Telekinesis will be helping Sonic Boom celebrate at their Capitol Hill location
- Superchunk will be signing EPs at Coachella
Sub Pop Records:
-Vetiver is appearing at Sonic Boom’s Ballard location at 4 PM.
Limited edition 7″s: Blitzen Trapper “War is Placebo”, Vetiver “Wishing Well”, Obits “I Can’t Lose”, and Flight of the Conchords “Pencils in the Wind”.
Iron and Wine will also be offering up a limited edition live CD recorded in Norfolk on June 20th, 2005. More info
Limited edition vinyl from Sonic Youth, Jay Reatard, and Pavement. More info
Arthur Russell – Love Is Overtaking Me (LP)
Camera Obscura – French Navy single (7″)
Elvis Perkins In Dearland – Lorraine Lookout (7″)