Entries tagged with: Aaron Dessner

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photos by Julieta Cervantes, words by Andrew Frisicano

DOWNLOAD: The Long Count - Bull Run (feat. Kelley Deal) (MP3)

The Long Count

The Long Count premiered last night (10/28) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music while the Yankees were losing to the Phillies up in the Bronx. It's a risky piece - and not just because the pre-show epigraph was a radio broadcast of the last time the Yankees were swept in a World Series. The overarching "Creation" theme guides the piece's rise-collapse-rebuild structure, and its individual songs and their discrete musical worlds make each movement engaging and unexpected. Each part has its own center: At the beginning the band sounds like a chamber ensemble, with the two lead guitars playing in counterpoint. That transitions into a duet between twins Kim and Kelley Deal of the Breeders, whose smiles and lighthearted gait broke through any opening-night tension that might've been present. Their informality went against the general seated-show seriousness of the BAM Opera House. Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), in contrast, was in total performance-art mode, bouncing around lithely in a series of choreographed gestures and rotating costumes. The Deals sang muffled, overdriven harmonies, in their classic style, before splitting to take their own numbers. Kim's song in particular , "Time to play" it might be called, crested into a bass-less din like a staticy AM radio that filled the hall. (Kelley's, "Bull Run," you can hear above.)

While the Dessners sat (and rose at moments) on stage, they trusted the weight of their composed music to the assembled band. For the complexity of the piece, and the precision to which it was arranged, the tightness of the well-rehearsed and conductor-less band was remarkable. The middle of the piece is a series of instrumental arrangements that progress from relative order to menacing crescendo. To transition certain segments, Colin Stetson (on bass clarinet and bari sax) explodes through the hall with freefrom circular breathing figures. For these moments he's wholly alone.

A massive symmetrical backdrop of flowing abstract landscapes looms over the musicians and audience. The final piece, a Morricone-tinged number sung by Kim Deal, plays before a breezy, sun-burnt plain.

The show happens again at BAM on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are still available. More pictures from Wednesday below...

Continue reading "The Long Count @ BAM in pics & review "

by Andrew Frisicano

DOWNLOAD: Aaron Dessner - We Were Born (from the Long Count) (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Long Count - Bull Run (feat. Kelley Deal) (MP3)

Twins! (the Dessners & the Deals)
The Long Count

The Long Count kicks off its three show engagement at BAM's Gilman Opera House tonight (10/28). Tickets are still available for the show, as well as for the Friday (10/30) and Saturday (10/31) performances.

The 70-minute music and multimedia piece, commissioned by BAM Next Wave Festival, is the work of Bryce and Aaron Dessner of the National and visual artist Matthew Ritchie. But they haven't been working alone. At every step of composing and arranging the Long Count over the past year, the brothers have tapped into their crew of skilled collaborators. The 12-piece orchestra that will be joining them on stage counts talents like NYC violist Nadia Sirota (who played last month's Archipelago series show), sax/bass clarinet player Colin Stetson, and Antony & the Johnsons' guitarist/violinist/conductor Rob Moose (who in particular assisted with some of the arranging duties).

As previously mentioned, the Breeders' Kim and Kelley Deal (twins) collaborated with the Dessners (also twins) on much of the music - they sing for nearly half of the show. Other vocal turns will be taken by the Nationals' Matt Berninger and My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden.

All four singers play roles in the narrative of the Long Count, which takes its story from the Mayan creation myth of Popol Vuh. In that, multiple sets of twins (in the story and on stage) experience repeated cycles of life and death until giving birth to the world as we know it. The original tale ties in strongly with a ballgame played by its main characters - an element which the Dessners have woven in with their love of baseball, particularly Cincinnati Reds and the Big Red Machine.

Musically, the Long Count sections posted above, both from the show's work-in-progress performance at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on September 11th, showcase the piece's diversity. The first, "We Were Born," highlights the minimalist pedigree of the show, while "Bull Run" layers those elements with fearsome orchestral lines and extremely creepy vocals by Kelley Deal.

Paired with the spooky nature of Mathew Ritchie's animation (which you can preview here) the show looks to be a good Halloween night warm-up as any. In fact, the early Saturday night show has the most tickets available, and it follows a pre-show Q&A (ticketed separately) led by Brandon Stosuy (who's curating the Mount Eerie + metal show at Market Hotel later in the night).

Bryce generously answered some of our questions over the phone while in the last week of rehearsal (and in the hectic center of CMJ week). More photos from the production, and that interview, where he reveals the existence of an unreleased Christmas album he made with Sufjan, details on the new National record and more, below...

Continue reading "an interview w/ Bryce Dessner of The National whose show, The Long Count, opens @ BAM tonight ++ 2 MP3's"

by Andrew Frisicano

DOWNLOAD: Aaron Dessner - We Were Born (from the Long Count) (MP3)

The Long Count

The Long Count
Oct 28, 30 & 31 at 8pm

Bryce Dessner, Aaron Dessner, and Matthew Ritchie

In an inspired collision of creative worlds, three inexhaustibly original artists--brothers Bryce Dessner and Aaron Dessner of indie rock royalty The National and omnivorous visual art phenomenon Matthew Ritchie--combine talents to create a song-filled myth about the beginning of time. A feast of images, instrumentals, and songs thick with primordial mystery, The Long Count pairs Ritchie's protean forms with a twelve-piece orchestra and the Dessners' gothic mix of electric and orchestral sounds.

Guest vocalists Kim and Kelley Deal (The Breeders [who are at the Bowery August 18th & 19th]), Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), and Matt Berninger (The National) round out the line-up in this visionary collaboration between music and art.

The MP3 above is the first musical glimpse at the above-described (and previously mentioned) Long Count project. The heavy minimalist influence on the track makes the role of those guest vocalists even more curious. Single tickets for the Long Count, and all the BAM Next Wave concerts, go on sale September 8th. A video trailer for the show, which falls on and around Halloween, is below. More Brooklyn Halloween show options HERE.

Shara Worden has been keeping super busy and impressing Decemberists audiences across the country when she sings her part in the Hazards of Love production (and when she's doing Bob Dylan). Upcoming Decemberists dates include September 21st in Montclair, NJ.

Kim Deal, in addition to the above-mentioned BAM and Bowery shows, will be in NYC (and around the country) with the Pixies in November. The shows at Hammerstein Ballroom are now on sale.

The National recently played a set at All Points West in Jersey City.

Worden/National collaborator Sufjan Stevens premiered his show "The BQE" as part of BAM's Next Wave Festival in 2007. That show is being released as a DVD and going on tour, as is Sufjan himself.

Also below is a video from "a 20-minute animated and musical collaboration developed by Bryce Dessner and Matthew Ritchie" that premiered at the Kitchen in March (Sufjan Stevens played the harmonium), and trailers and music (!) for the other BAM Next Wave commissions including Imaginary City (the So Percussion show), Terra Nova (the DJ Spooky/ICE collaboration) and Meredith Monk's Songs of Ascension...

Continue reading "an MP3 from the upcoming National-Breeders-Worden show @ BAM, Long Count ticket info, Next Wave video previews"

DOWNLOAD: Doveman - Hurricane (new MP3)

Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman) @ Dark Was the Night (more by Natasha Ryan)

The follow-up to Doveman's 2007 record, With My Left Hand I Raise the Dead, is on the way. That still-untitled album will come out on Brassland Records later this year. You can check out a BV-exclusive preview from that record, the especially upbeat (for Doveman) song "Hurricane," above.

Doveman will be performing his/their latest work (alongside the rest of his catalog and maybe some Footloose material) at his Thursday, June 18th show at (Le) Poisson Rouge in NYC. Tickets are still on sale, and we have two pairs to give away. More details on that below.

At LPR, Bartlett will be backed by long-time Doveman member Sam Amidon, who's also opening the show, and Aaron and Bryce Dessner and Bryan Devendorf of The National -- all of those musicians appear on the new record.

As usual, Doveman has been busy playing keys behind other performers. On June 14th and 15th, he played with Martha Wainwright in her "Songs of Edith Piaf" show. Those sets were recorded with producer Hal Wilner to be released as a live record.

This summer Bartlett will tour with Antony & the Johnsons in Europe. The National have summer dates too, and don't be surprised if Bartlett ends up making some of those gigs.

We talked to Aaron Dessner about his history with Doveman, the progress being made on the new National album and a forthcoming Dark Was the Night movie (and possible European dates). That exchange, and all tour dates, is below...

Continue reading "Doveman - new MP3 ++ NYC show Thursday w/ members of the National (who are recording, touring, keeping busy) "

BAM Next Wave 2009

BAM has announced the schedule for the Next Wave Festival 2009, a series of fourteen new music, theater and dance pieces that'll run from September 15th to December 19th.

The lineup includes a number of awesome-looking BAM commissions and premieres.

Deal SistersBryce Dessner & Aaron Dessner of The National (and Dark Was the Night fame) and Matthew Ritchie have put together a piece called The Long Count, to feature Kim and Kelley Deal (The Breeders), Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond, Decemberists) and Matt Berninger (The National) on vocals (Oct 28th-31st).

Imaginary City, a new 70-minute work by So Percussion, will be accompanied by video and take inspiration from the Italo Calvino novel of the same name (Oct 14th--17th). Meredith Monk will compose and perform in Songs of Ascension alongside her vocal ensemble and the Todd Reynolds String Quartet (Oct 21st--25th). (As a side note -- Reynolds and Monk both appeared, separately, at the Bang on a Can benefits at LPR on June 3rd.)

The program features a concert staging of the Philip Glass opera Kepler (Nov 18th, 20th, 21st). And, maybe in time for the first snow (...) a performance by DJ Spooky and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) of Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica, a piece "based around DJ Spooky's sound recordings in the Antarctic that explore the acoustic qualities of ice" (Dec 2, 4 & 5).

Most of the programs above will have an "Artist Talk" companion program, free to those with tickets to the event.

There's a couple ways to get tickets to the series. Friends of BAM will get the first stab at subscription packages, which let you pick a combo of shows to attend, on Monday, June 15th. Subscriptions for the general public go on sale Monday, June 22nd. Single ticket sales for Next Wave Festival starts Tuesday, September 8th (Aug 31st for Friends of BAM).

Full music lineup below...

Continue reading "BAM Next Wave Festival 2009 - members of The National, The Breeders, Shara Worden, So Percussion, DJ Spooky..."

DOWNLOAD: The National - So Far Around The Bend (MP3)

Dark Was The Night producers (from left) Bryce Dressner, John Carlin, & Aaron Dressner (Photo by Tim Soter)
Dark was the night

NPR Music will record the Dark Was the Night Concert and offer performances from it online at www.npr.org/music The show will gather many major indie music acts at New York's Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, May 3 to commemorate the release of the charity compilation of the same name.

Host of NPR Music's All Songs Considered Bob Boilen will attend and report from the show that features several of the artists that contributed to the compilation, including Dirty Projectors, David Byrne, My Brightest Diamond, The National, Dave Sitek (from TV on the Radio), Bon Iver, Feist and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. A week following, songs from the event along with Boilen's commentary and interviews with many of the artists will be available for streaming at www.npr.org/music The concert will also be available for download via the "Live in Concert" podcast.

Tickets for tonight's show are still on sale. It's all going to charity.

"The National's Aaron Dessner explained the format of the show to Pitchfork in a recent news feature, 'We're going to have two halves (of the show). The first half will be songs from Dark Was the Night, and then there will be a short intermission. And then afterwards, there will be mini-sets by different artists and collaborations, both things that relate to Dark Was the Night and some that don't.'" I was told the show will be four hours long.

And according to an official set of Blonde Redhead tour dates someone sent me (a list that includes the show in Brooklyn's Prospect Park), Blonde Redhead will be there tonight. All (three) dates below (thanks Joseph). David Byrne, who will definitely be there, is also playing Prospect Park.

Dark Was the nightDespite probably-originally-tentatively agreeing to do it, Grizzly Bear won't be playing Radio City because they landed a spot on the Jools Holland show in the UK that had to be taped this weekend. Yeasayer are recording a new album in the woods somewhere. Why Sufjan Stevens won't be there is still a mystery though. Maybe he will? Other NYC-area artists that are part of the CD, but not on the bill include the New Pornographers (AC Newman lives here I think), Yo La Tengo, My Morning Jacket (Jim James lives here I think), and Antony.

According to an interview with the "Dressner" brothers at Vanity Fair, the National will play two new songs at the show. They wouldn't say much else except that we should expect some "exciting collaborations". I know that Thomas "Doveman" Bartlett will be playing piano at the show. Also heads up Europe: they'd "like to do another show in London and/or Paris but it is a huge amount of work and schedule coordination to pull off so I'm not sure. But we're looking at options!"

And in what had to be the worst timing ever for "huge shows with special guests", Pete Seeger's 90th birthday party is also tonight, but at the much larger Madison Square Garden. Maybe Bruce Springsteen will stop over to sing a song at Radio City before his set at MSG. Hey, it doesn't seem completely impossible.

Continue reading "Dark Was The Night today! NPR recording. Blonde Redhead playing? Will anyone else? Who's going? (tix still on sale)"


Brooklyn's Grizzly Bear return May 25th with a new album Veckatimest (pronounced veck-ah-tim-est) , the follow up to the 2006's critically adored 'Yellow House'. Featuring contributions from Beach House's Victoria Legrand and classical composer Nico Muhly, the album is named after a beautiful uninhabited island off the the coast of Massachusetts.
Tickets are back on sale for the February 28th Grizzly Bear / Final Fantasy / Brooklyn Philharomic show at BAM.

Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, who have their own show (with their own special guests) coming up at BAM, will play guitar ane banjo with Grizzly Bear on two songs at the Brooklyn show. Grizzly Bear (and the National) have songs on the Dessner-curated Dark Was the Night compilation that is out now.

Grizzly Bear is also playing SXSW, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, and Norway's Oya Festival this year. Grizzly Bear Dan's band Department of Eagles will be at SXSW too.

Veckatimest (in the running with Bromst for best album title of 2009) track listing, below...

Continue reading "Grizzly Bear BAM tix back on sale --- VECKATIMEST"

Dark Was the NightDark Was the Night

"What a fitting day to announce the complete list of artists involved with our upcoming album DARK WAS THE NIGHT - the February 17th 4AD release that will benefit the Red Hot Organization. It's World AIDS Day, and in honor of that, we bring you the exciting news."
More info on the previously mentioned comp below...

Continue reading "Dark Was the Night - full 4AD comp artist list, cover art, etc"