Entries tagged with: Bang on a Can

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by Andrew Frisicano

Burkina Electric
Bang on a Can

The annual Bang on a Can Marathon took over the World Financial Center Winter Garden Sunday, June 27th for 13 hours (one over the expected 12).

As evidenced in the pictures below, I only caught the last quarter or so of the night (it the was the same day as Gil Scott-Heron in Central Park). The day was packed with curiosity-provoking sets, like the US premiere of Fausto Romitelli's "Professor Bad Trip," performed by the Talea Ensemble...

Broken into three "lessons," the dense piece vividly communicated a kind of doomed atmosphere, beginning with sighing, deflating sounds pouring out of the winds and violins and pitched percussion nervously skittering, and later growing into thunderous sound from the full chamber orchestra. The highlight came in the second section, with a pained, growling cello solo played with impressive control by Chris Gross.

While Romitelli had his share of devotees, there was a clear sense of relief with the contrast Buke and Gass offered next. Playing their namesake baritone ukelele (buke) and guitar-bass hybrid (it's pronounced "gase"), and a drum with tambourines embedded, their emphatic, quirky brand of rock, enhanced by buke player Arone Dyer's pure folk-singer voice, was exactly what the crowd needed.
[NJ Star Ledger]

When I arrived, a group of musicians, Slagwerk Den Haag, were scribbling furiously (and rhythmically) on chalk boards.

A focus toward the end seemed to be video projections, which accompanied the double bass loops of Florent Ghys, guitarist Tim Brady's wall of sound, and the night's final performance by Signal, Shelter, a piece composed by Bang on a Can heads Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe. Burkina Electric provided a late-evening burst of energy with West African dance music (they play Celebrate Brooklyn on July 8th and Central Park on July 25th).

Q2 will be broadcasting music from this year's Marathon in August (as will WNYC's New Sounds), so look out for that.

More pictures are below...

Continue reading "2010 Bang on a Can Marathon in pics (Burkina Electric, who play Summerstage & Celebrate Brooklyn, included)"

by Andrew Frisicano

Bang on a Can 2009 (photo by Stephanie Berger)
Bang on a Can 2009

The schedule is up for this year's Bang on a Can Marathon, the free day-long affair hosted at the World Financial Center Winter Garden. This year's 12-hour show takes place on Sunday, June 27th from noon to midnight. It starts with a performance by John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble and closes with sets by Burkina Electric (who also play SummerStage), and new music ensemble Signal doing a piece by BoaC cofounders Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe. The entire thing is posted below. There's also a Youtube playlist of this year's artists to get yourself acquainted.

The Marathon will be recorded for an episode of WNYC's New Sounds in August, but before that the station will be broadcasting and streaming (on Q2) parts of BoaC marathons past (possibly including 2007's 27-hour fest, 2008's 4am Dan Deacon set or parts of last year's thoroughly enjoyable show).

The full schedule and details on the radio programming are below...

Continue reading "Bang on a Can Marathon - 2010 schedule (Buke & Gass, Moritz Eggert, Burkina Electric, Tim Brady, Signal & more)"

BAM

BAM Next Wave Festival 2010 (the annual music/dance/theater/opera series to run September 21--Decemeber 19) will include work & performances by Laurie Anderson (doing the NY premiere of her work Delusion), a song cycle from Stew and Heidi Rodewald (of Passing Strange fame), music by NOLA's Trombone Shorty, Mikel Rouse's multimedia-song project Gravity Radio, and A House in Bali, an opera by Bang on a Can All-Star's Evan Ziporyn featuring Balinese Gamelan Salukat and BoaC All-Stars.

Next Wave Festival subscription tickets for Friends of BAM (as well as subscribers to both the 2010 Spring Season and 2009 Next Wave Festival) are on sale Jun 7; subscription tickets for the general public are on sale Jun 14. Single tickets for Delusion and Vollmond are on sale Aug 30 (Aug 23 for Friends of BAM).

The 2009 Next Wave included musical works from DJ Spooky, So Percussion and The Dessner Brother and Deal sisters.

More info on the above-mentioned shows is below...

Continue reading "BAM announces 2010 Next Wave Festival (Stew, Trombone Shorty, Bang on a Can All-Stars and more)"

by Andrew Frisicano

Matmos and So Percussion at the Whitney, 2006 (via Matador)
Matmos and So Percussion

New music quartet So Percussion and electronic duo Matmos (Drew Daniel and Martin Schmidt) are collaborating on a new record, Treasure State, set to come out July 13th (July 8th digitally) on Cantaloupe. They recorded the record at the SnowGhost Studios in Whitefish, Montana, where "San Francisco plunderphonicist Wobbly then chopped and edited the results on several tracks, and finally, with frequent interventions from Matmos' M. C. Schmidt, 'fifth' So Percussion member and produced by Lawson White overdubbed extra elements, processed, and mixed the results." The instruments used include ceramic planters, pails of water, aluminum beer cans and cactus needles - not totally surprising if you've seen their live show.

Matmos and So Percussion will be playing at (Le) Poisson Rouge on Wednesday, June 9th. Tickets are on sale now. A full tour tour for the groups will be announced soon.

Before then, So Percussion's schedule includes an appearance at the Look & Listen Festival (which they play annually) on May 8th at Gary Snyder/Project Space (250 West 26th St). The other events for the three-day fest, details here, happen at Chelsea Art Museum. Tickets are on sale.

This summer, So Percussion will play on one night of Lincoln Center's two-night "Complete Works of Edgard Varèse" program. They'll join International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) to perform music by the highly influential composer (though Poème électronique will play itself). The second night features NY Philharmonic. Details on the program are below and tickets are on sale.

If that seems far off, in 2011 So Percussion will join Bang on a Can All-Stars, eighth blackbird and Kronos Quartet for a "Music of Steve Reich" concert at Carnegie Hall on April 30th. They'll perform new works and2009 Pulitzer Prize winning Double Sextet.

As for Matmos, they perform at Mutek Music Fest in Montreal on June 2nd.

Album tracklist, all tour dates, and more info on the Look & Listen and Lincoln Center shows are below...

Continue reading "So Percussion & Matmos collaborate - albums, shows, the Look & Listen Festival, music of Steve Reich, more"

by Andrew Frisicano

Signal at LPR

New music ensemble Signal will visit (Le) Poisson Rouge on Sunday, April 11th for two performances of Philip Glass's 1981 album Glassworks (its NY live premiere) along with Glass's "Music in Similar Motion" and other works. Tickets for the early set and late set are both on sale. Clips from Glassworks are posted below.

Also coming up, Signal will be at Merkin Hall on May 27th to debut a new piece by Nico Muhly and UK composer Harrison Birtwistle's The Corridor (its US premiere). The show is part of Kaufman Center's Contemporary Contexts series and Face the Music, "Kaufman Center's critically-acclaimed teen ensemble," will open with a pre-show performance of Muhly's "Honest Music" and "How About Now." Tickets are on sale for that.

Nico Muhly (who worked on the new albums by Jonsi and Sam Amidon, and who played himself quite a bit at Big Ears Fest) was commissioned along with composers Sean Shepherd and Matthias Pintscher to write a piece for Contact!, the NY Philharmonic's new music series that kicked off last December. All three pieces debut April 16th at Symphony Space (and played again a day later at Metropolitan Museum of Art). Tickets for Symphony Space show are on sale.

Outside of NYC, Signal travels upstate to join Eastman School of Music's Musica Nova and others in performing Steve Reich pieces in Rochester and Buffalo this May and June (works include Music for 18 Musicians and Pulitzer winning Double Sextet).

Another thing Signal has on its calendar is the 2010 Bang on a Can Marathon, set for Sunday, June 27th, noon-midnight, at World Financial Center Winter Garden. At the fest, the group will participate in Shelter, a multimedia work co-composed by BoaC founders Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe and David Lang. The initial lineup also includes the US premiere of Professor Bad Trip by Fausto Romitelli. A video of that piece is below.

Most recently, Signal joined Shara Worden and others to perform Sarah Kirkland Snider's Penelope at Galapagos on Saturday, April 3rd.

All the above-mentioned videos posted below...

Continue reading "Signal's upcoming shows include Bang on a Can Marathon, works by Philip Glass & Nico Muhly (who has shows too) "

by Andrew Frisicano

Sufjan Stevens
big Ears

Collaborations were the order of the day on Big Ears' Saturday, March 27th schedule (day two). At 1pm, the 802 Tour - Nico Muhly, Thomas Bartlett (Doveman) and Sam Amidon with violist Nadia Sirota - performed songs written by each. The National's Dessner brothers and drummer Bryan Devendorf joined for a selection of full-band Doveman songs, and the finale was a clamoring, epic version of the folk song "The Two Sisters" arranged by Nico (part of the percussion included Nico combing Thomas's hair). Sam played his own set with help from Thomas one day earlier, and later Saturday night.

Before that, the day started with Andrew W.K.'s Q&A-heavy lecture at the Knoxville Museum of Art (he played a set of music the night before) and a Bang on a Can All-Stars set that included works by Dave Longstreth, both at noon. Dirty Projectors performed later in the day (3:45pm) at Tennessee Theatre on a bill that also included DJ/Rupture and William Basinski who went on at the same time as Liturgy (who played at the Big Ears Annex at 2pm and then again at Pilot Light at midnight).

Clogs took the stage at the Bijou Theater with guests as well. Rumors of a solo set by Sufjan Steven circulated, but he only played one of his own songs, "Barn Owl Night Killer," on piano. Clogs were also assisted by Shara Worden, Aaron Dessner and Calder Quartet. Matt Berninger was delayed en route to Knoxville, so he didn't make his duet on "Last Song," for which main Clog Padma Newsome filled in. That wasn't the actual last song - new-album closer "We Were Here" was, which featured Sufjan on vocals and banjo along with Shara Worden and guitar by Aaron Dessner. A similar show happened in Brooklyn a few days earlier.

Joanna Newsom
big Ears

The Saturday headliners - Vampire Weekend and Joanna Newsom - both played to sold out crowds (Vampire Weekend at the sprawling, ornate-adorned 1600 seat Tennessee Theater with opener Abe Vigoda). Joanna Newsom's set was opened by Fred Armisen aka Jens Hannemann, a master of "complicated drummer technique." Armisen also joined her set for one song to play awkward and out-of-place cowbell.

At the Tennessee, the night ended with Terry Riley's Autodreamagraphical Tales - music from Bang on a Can over Terry reading from his actual dreams (Eastern religion and weed popped up frequently) - and In C, led by BoaC's Evan Ziporyn and featuring the rest of Bang on a Can All-Stars as well as Calder Quartet, Clogs, Nico Muhly, Nadia Sirota, Gyan Riley, and Terry on voice. The open-ended song stretched to an hour, canceling out any chance to catch late night sets from Javelin and Gang Gang Dance. Gang Gang was stil going when I arrived, but the club shut down the power mid-song and flipped on the lights promptly at 3am, sending everyone home.

A recap of Friday is HERE. More pictures and videos from Saturday are below...

Continue reading "Big Ears Fest Day 2 - Joanna Newsom, Clogs w/ Sufjan, Fred Armisen, Nico Muhly, Terry Riley, more (pics, video, review) "

Tonight's Bang on a Can All-Stars show at Merkin Hall (2/24), which will be premiering new pieces by Nik Bärtsch, Oscar Bettison, Christine Southworth and Dirty Projectors' David Longstreth (as well as a selection of Brian Eno's Music for Airports), will be streaming online on WQXR's online Q2 station at 7:30pm EST. More info on the evening is below...

Continue reading "stream the BoaC / Dave Longstreth NYC show (tonight) "

by Andrew Frisicano

DOWNLOAD: Clogs - Red Seas w/ Padma Newsome (MP3)

Dave Longstreth @ MHOW in December (more by Ryan Muir)
Dirty Projectors

The final lineup for Big Ears Festival in Knoxville TN, March 26-28, has been confirmed and updated, with the addition of King Crimson's Adrian Belew, tape composer William Basinski, NYC metal Liturgy (who are also playing MtyMx), UK avant-noisemakers Konk Pack, punk band Abe Vigoda, Ches Smith (drummer for Marc Ribot and others who'll play with Tery Riley) and Sufjan Stevens, who will be appearing with Clogs.

Also joining Clogs on stage will be the other guest vocalists on their new song cycle/album ,The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton: Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) and The National's Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner. They'll be performing that work. A new track from the album, featuring Sufjan Padma on vocals, is posted above.

Other pairings at the fest include Ben Frost and Tim Hecker (collaborating for the first time) and Bang on a Can All-Stars, who will be playing music by David Longstreth, Thurston Moore, Michael Gordon and their own Evan Ziporyn. They'll also be doing a rendition of Brian Eno's Music for Airports at a show with Tim Hecker and The Books (who are also on the bill of ATP NY this year). Tickets to most Big Ears shows are currently on sale; additional shows go on sale Friday at 10am and noon.

Bang on a Can All-Stars will be performing the music of Dave Longstreth next Wednesday, February 24th at their show at Merkin Hall. At the gig, they'll also premiere work by Nik Bärtsch, Oscar Bettison and Christine Southworth plus "performances of a recently commissioned work by Michael Nyman for a film by the celebrated 1920s New York photographer Paul Strand along with a selection from the group's acclaimed live arrangement of Brian Eno's ambient classic Music for Airports." Tickets are on sale. A video of them playing 2x5 directed by Steve Reich is below. The full Merkin Hall schedule for their New Sounds/Contemporary Contexts series (including a May 27th Signal show/Nico Muhly premiere) is below.

Longstreth, Dirty Projectors and Alarm Will Sound play The Getty Address in full at Lincoln Center's Allen Room on Friday, Februay 19th. More below...

Continue reading "Big Ears Fest expands - Sufjan w/ Clogs (MP3), William Basinski, Liturgy, Bang on Can do Dave Longstreth (NYC too)"

MusicNow

The Big Ears Festival, happening March 26-28 in Knoxville, TN, recently expanded its lineup to include the National, Dirty Projectors, Bang On A Can All-Stars, Iva Bittova, Ben Frost, Tim Hecker, Tracy Silverman, and Buke & Gass. Those are in addition to the previously announced acts of Vampire Weekend, the Calder Quartet, 802 Tour (Nico Muhly/Doveman/Sam Amidon with Nadia Sirota), Joanna Newsom, St. Vincent, Andrew WK, The Ex, Gang Gang Dance, Clogs, The xx, Javelin, DJ/rupture (solo), DJ/rupture and Andy Moor, My Brightest Diamond, Gyan Riley and jj.

Big Ears is being co-curated by Bryce Dessner of the National, who's also bringing some great acts to his hometown of Cincinnati for MusicNOW Festival. For that, the city's Memorial Hall will host three shows: Joanna Newsom on March 30th, St. Vincent and yMusic on 31st, and Justin Vernon April 1st. Annie Clark a.k.a. St. Vincent has been commissioned to write a piece for the fest that yMusic will perform. More guests TBA. Tickets and three-night passes are on sale.

Joanna Newsom is coming to NYC in March. Tickets are now on AmEx presale. Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) is here sooner (this Thursday). St. Vincent has a show coming up at Lincoln Center.

by Andrew Frisicano

GVSU New Music Ensemble...
GVSU New Music Ensemble

In 2007, Michigan's Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble recorded a stellar version of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, which they performed that year at the Bang on a Can Marathon (which ran 27 hours). Members of the group traveled to NYC to join in the Kronos Quartet-led performance of Terry Riley's In C last April at Carnegie Hall. Now, GVSU New Music Ensemble has put together their own recording of the classic composition, and they've invited 16 musicians and composers to remix the piece for a 2-CD set, In C Remixed, that comes out November 17th on Innova (the digital version came out Oct. 27th).

The remixers, who include Glenn Kotche, Nico Muhly, BoaC cofounder David Lang, and DJ Spooky (whose BAM Next Wave show happens the first week in December), all have a lot to say about In C and have come up with some diverse, left-field takes on the piece. They run the gamut from the straightforward electronic-music path to glitch-pop and twisted orchestral turns.

The GVSU New Music Ensemble will be in NYC to perform the piece live at (Le) Poisson Rouge on Sunday, November 8th. Joining them will be two album contributors, Dennis DeSantis and R. Luke DuBois, who'll do a remix of the performance live (and add video). Also on the bill are Slow Boys (fellow In C remixers Michael Lowenstern on bass clarinet and Todd Reynolds on violin). Tickets are on sale.

A video preview of the album and its full tracklist with contibutors are below...

Continue reading "'In C Remixed' - on CD & live @ LPR this Sunday"

by Andrew Frisicano

Nadia Sirota
Nadia Sirota

There were (more) strings at September 25th's inaugural show for the Archipelago music series, which happens at Galapagos one Friday a month through next May. Like the Undiscovered Islands fest in May, the shows will be featuring music that crosses boundaries between classical, indie, etc. (and like that fest, it's also being set up by the New Amsterdam label.)

The full schedule is below. It's full of treats (like a way-off show with music by Shara Worden aka My Brightest Diamond in April). The first show featured violist Nadia Sirota and percussion quartet Line C3. Coincidentally, Worden and Nadia will both be playing with the Dessner Bros.' BAM Next Wave show, The Long Count, at the end of October.

Both acts on the first night performed works by Nico Muhly (Line C3 did "Ta and Clap," written by Nico for them in 2004, and he joined Nadia for his piece "Keep in Touch," which features a vocal sample from Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons). Nadia & Nico actually discuss their collaborations in an episode of New Amsterdam's Podcast series.

Speaking of New Amsterdam, they also have a CMJ showcase coming up with Cantaloupe Records at (Le) Poisson Rouge on October 21st. Tickets are on sale. That will feature the music of David Lang and Julia Wolfe (Bang on a Can co-founders) and performances by NOW Ensemble, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society and more. Clips of the Lang-scored film (Untitled) will be screened between performances (the soundtrack of which will be out October 13th).

Full details on the Archipelago series below...

Continue reading "Archipelago music series to feature Shara Worden, Craig Wedren & more ++ New Amsterdam & Cantaloupe do CMJ"

Bon Iver @ Sasquatch Fest (more by Chris Graham)
Bon Iver

Tickets are now on sale for all of Merkin Hall's upcoming 2009/10 concerts. Those shows include the NY Guitar Festival's Silent Films/Live Guitars series (previously mentioned here), which features David Bromberg and Marc Ribot playing alongside Charlie Chaplin films on January 14th, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon (Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush) with Steve Kimock (Buster Keaton's Cops) on January 21st, and more. The full lineup, with details, is below.

The venue is also hosting the New Sounds series, which includes performances by ETHEL and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Details on those are below. Check out a video of the BoaC All-Stars rehearsing a Steve Reich piece from a few years back below too. You'll notice Bryce Dessner of the National is in the ensemble in that video. He's currently working on his own new piece with brother Aaron and Matthew Ritchie to debut at BAM this fall.

Also, as part of their trio of "Contemporary Contexts" concerts, Merkin Hall will be bringing Signal, who will premiere a new work from Nico Muhly and UK composer Harrison Birtwistle, in May.

The full schedule is below...

Continue reading "Bon Iver, Marc Ribot & other NY Guitar Fest tickets on sale ++ full upcomng Merkin Hall schedule (New Sounds, etc)"

by Andrew Frisicano

Gutbucket

At the June 11th Bang on a Can benefit at (Le) Poisson Rouge, Gutbucket played a set of prog jazz tunes that drew on influences that included Charlie Parker, electronica, Ornette Coleman, '80s metal and more. The quartet's No Wave-inspired ecclectism was aided by a clear melodic voice and musical virtuosity. Those were all amped up by the unbridled stage presence of saxist Ken Thomson, whose swinging baritone sax was both a musical and literal weapon.

Gutbucket will be playing two sets at a free Celebrate Brooklyn show this Saturday, June 20th. The series, which kicked off with David Byrne on June 9th, has shows booked all summer. First, Gutbucket will play an opening set that'll include material from the band's newest record, A Modest Proposal, which came out on Cuneiform Records at the beginning of this year. Then the group supports the string quartet ETHEL as they perform a live score to the sci-fi film La Nave de los Monstruos. The piece was demoed as a work-in-progress at BAM's BRIClab earlier this year -- this show will be the completed work's debut...

ETHEL, the nation's premier rock-infused, postclassical string quartet, teams up with the avant-squonk art-rock wild men of Gutbucket to tackle the vintage Mexican science fiction classic La Nave De Los Monstruos (The Monsters' Ship, 1959). In the film, the last male on Venus has died and the planet's regent sends Gamma and Beta, two gorgeous aliens, on a quest to find men on other planets. ETHEL and Gutbucket dig into this fertile ground and create a new original score which will be performed live to the film. [BAM]
More photos of Gutbucket at the BoaC benefit below...

Continue reading "Gutbucket - free Brooklyn show Saturday + LPR benefit pics "

by Andrew Frisicano

Brian Snow of Newspeak...
Newspeak

Fiery Furnaces and NYC ensemble Newspeak are playing a Wordless Music show at (Le) Poisson Rouge on Thursday, June 11th. Tickets are still on sale.

That night, Newspeak's set will include the world premiere of a piece composed by Fiery Furnaces frontman Matt Friedberger. That song, titled "Amalgamated Bakery and Pastry and Ice and Coal Drivers Local Union No. 953 v. National Licorice Co," will be "the first time in Wordless Music history that a member of the rock band is writing a piece for the classical ensemble."

Also on the show's program is a song by Newspeak group member Caleb Burhans, "Requiem for a General Motors in Janesville, WI." The eight-piece ensemble played that tune as part of their set (photographed here) at the Bang on Can benefit at LPR on Wednesday, June 3rd. Though "Requiem" composer Burhans, the group's regular violinist, was absent from the lineup, he was ably subbed for by NYC violin luminary Todd Reynolds. Reynolds helped the group tear through songs like the dissonant, blast-beat-filled "Breaking and Entering," which closed the set.

Currently, that tune is streaming at the band's MySpace (though be warned, the recording doesn't do it justice). Also streaming is a song by band director and drummer David T. Little, "Sweet Light Crude," which is also on the program for June 11th. See the full program for that night, below.

In other Wordless Music news, the Signal performance of Steve Reich's Double Sextet on Monday, June 22nd has added a second set. Tickets for those early and late shows are on sale now.

Also coming up for Wordless Music is the US debut of Jóhann Jóhannsson at LPR on Thursday, June 25th. NYC ensemble ACME, who just played the Tribeca New Music Festival (happening through Sunday), will be accompanying Jóhannsson and opening the show. Tickets for the early set (6:30pm) and late set(9pm) are still on sale.

More Newspeak pictures below...

Continue reading "Newspeak playing w/ Fiery Furnaces (and a Matt Friedberger piece), played the Bang on a Can benefit (pics) ++ 2nd Steve Reich 'Double Sextet' show added "

by Andrew Frisicano

Ryuichi Sakamoto & the Bang on a Can All-Stars
BOAC

"This year's marathon offered works by 28 composers on Sunday, from noon to just past midnight, at the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan. Like the last several, it was presented as a free concert, part of the River to River Festival. Early in the day listeners came and went, but by 5 p.m. the center's atrium (which holds 2,000) was packed, and it remained so to the end." [NY Times]
Sunday, May 31st was the 22nd annual Bang on a Can Marathon in the World Financial Center's Winter Garden. The 2008 fest ran from 6pm to 6am, with a 4am Dan Deacon set in the early morning lull. This year's concert took a more diurnal approach, with a noon start and a finish coming after Tortoise's encore-less set a little past midnight. When the final introducer asked who'd been there since noon, a weary cheer came from that select but healthy part of crowd. Near night's finale, the Winter Garden stairs and seats were all full, and as Tortoise set up, even more filtered in, perhaps from one of the other shows that night.

Around 10pm, Ryuichi Sakamoto sat behind the room's piano for a quiet solo piece punctuated by sparks of crackling static. Mid-set he paused to call a BoaC tech over to fix the piano, before finishing with a burst of dreamy chords and carefully spare melodies.

After welcoming the Bang on a Can All-Stars on stage (a sextet of guitar, bass, percussion, cello, keys and clarinet), Sakamoto and two band members "conducted" with pocket mirrors, reflecting the room's lights on the white backdrop in what looked like lens flare from a sunny photo. The sustained textures of the ensemble's first piece gave way to a more structured, percussive songs that focused on a repeating three-bar phrase and its variations.

The BoaC All-Stars remained on stage for their performance of Steve Martland's Horses of Instruction, apparently an old standard for the group. They certainly had fun with it, adding percussionist Eduardo Leandro on marimba. Clarinetist Evan Ziporyn traded for a tenor sax as he led the piece jumping and gesticulating through the changes. The busy work juxtaposed the restrained Sakamoto songs with parts that moved from shredding cello to Frisell-like guitar comping to swinging and pulsating drums. The song was a sufficient energy boost to prep the crowd for Tortoise, who'd be closing the night.

Tortoise was recently discussed at length in a review of their show at the Bell House one night earlier, but briefly speaking, the band played a short, 7-song set largely driven by its two drum kits. Other songs abandoned the drums for malleted percussion, which moved the group away from driving jams to more minimal pastures. Their volume drowned out the room's rattling air conditioners, but at times the drums, right up front, overwhelmed the total group sound in the echoing hall. Granted, shifting, propulsive beats are kind of Tortoise's raison d'être, and their groove-heavy songs capped the Marathon with engaging, kinetic energy. A collection of psyched devotees jammed along in an area next to the stage.

The Marathon officially kicked off this year's River to River Festival, which will host many shows throughout the summer. Tortoise will be back as well, with a July tour that includes a show at (Le) Poisson Rouge.

Bang on a Can will use the Marathon's momentum to host two benefits this week -- both taking place Wednesday, June 3rd at LPR. The big-money early show and bargain-priced late show will feature established big names and talented up-and-comers, respectively. More specifically, Steve Reich, Meredith Monk, David Cossin, Wu Man, Maya Beiser, Talujon and Doug Aitken appear for the intimate dinner and music early benefit. So Percussion, Gutbucket, Newspeak and NOW Ensemble hold it down late. Tickets for the late show are still on sale.

Check out some videos from the whole day, and a few more pics from the late-night portion, below...

Continue reading "Bang on a Can Marathon 2009 in review w/ pics & video "

by Martin Longley

DOWNLOAD: Tortoise - Prepare Your Coffin (MP3)

Tortoise @ the Bell House in Brooklyn - May 30, 2009 (Ben Sisto)
Bell House

Less than a month before Beacons Of Ancestorship is released, Tortoise hit town for two highly contrasting gigs over a single weekend. First, they played a sold-out show at The Bell House, in Brooklyn's deserted Gowanus canal zone, then they climax the Bang On A Can marathon at the World Financial Center (tonight, 5/31). It's a return to full-on activity, as Tortoise's sixth studio album is effectively their first in five years. And now, their summer tour schedule is dawning.

Even though The Bell House is at capacity, this still doesn't make the gig uncomfortably crowded, particularly when taking advantage of the handy raised-bar area. The stage is kinda old-fashioned in its open-access bandstand look, allowing plenty of room for the massed multi-instrumentalist antics of Tortoise. All is in near-darkness, so the constant swapping of instruments isn't so disruptive or distracting.

Once at the vanguard of research into improvised roccolage, the quintet have become old established experimenters, whose former ramming together of cut-up elements now seems like a slickly-gliding fusion. Their sound is still their own, though: a unique mixture of rock, jazz, electro and minimalism, with all parts becoming Tortoisian once fed through their stylistic masticator.

Sometimes, the Tortoise output can become a tad stodgy, veering from nimble post-rock into behemoth prog. It's as though the band have become so familiar with its once-wild techniques that their results now sound too pre-formed, with all spiny encrustations smoothed into an aerodynamically efficient shape. At some points, they are sounding alarmingly like Yes. Most of the power surges as the Johns Herndon and McEntire coincide simultaneously on the drumkits, driving through interlocking beats inspired by samba, techno and the entire continent of Africa, sometimes during a single song. There's real marimba and a virtual vibes/percussion sample-trigger set-up too, ably deployed on the more minimalist stretches. The core Tortoise set lasts for an hour, but their enthusiastically-won encore stretches out for another 25 minutes, beginning with "High Class Slim Came Floatin' In", which also opens up the new album. It's the best tune of the evening, an immediate grower that's set to become a Tortoise classic. This is finding them at their techno end, and it's these moments, as well as their several headbanging rock-riffing cluster-outbursts that provide the peaks of the show.

If you miss Tortoise this time around, they'll be back again in July. Their new video for "Prepare Your Coffin" is below...

Continue reading "Tortoise played the Bell House -- Bang on a Can Sunday night"

by Andrew Frisicano

Steve Reich clapping

Steve ReichSteve Reich

Tonight (5/22) the Undiscovered Islands/New Amsterdam Records series at Galapagos continues with two sets: Sarah Kirkland Snider's Penelope performed by Signal, guitarist Steven Mackey and singer Rachel Calloway (conducted by Brad Lubman), and an opening performance by So Percussion. Tickets are still on sale.

So Percussion, who played with Dan Deacon at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple in December, was to premiere a new Deacon piece, but that debut has been postponed. Instead, Jason Treuting from So Percussion, writes...

we are playing some new music that we've been working on as meditations on the concept of city. the music has been focusing on the task oriented nature of a city and the parallel task-oriented nature of playing music. loops are made out of tasks and we have taken to transforming mundane objects into musical instruments like we haven't before. turning on lamps, writing on paper, pouring gravel, putting down ordinary objects in rhythm, etc. a few new videos by my sister jenise treuting will be busted out as well.
The other ensemble on that bill, Signal, has several other gigs coming up. They're performing Michael Gordon's Trance, for a second time, at the Bang on a Can Marathon on May 31st.

Signal just did the music of Philip Glass at (Le) Poisson Rouge on May 17th. They'll return to the venue on Friday, June 22nd for a concert and party to celebrate Steve Reich's 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Music for Double Sextet. Reich's original Sextet (1984) will be performed at that show, presented by Wordless Music, as well. Tickets are on sale.

That gig is your only way to check out the piece (except for streaming excerpts), as there's currently no way to buy a recording of it. Reich discussed this in a recent interview...

Newsweek: I missed the premiere of "Double Sextet" last year, and when I heard it had won, I found myself upset that there was no way to buy the piece yet.

Reich: Yeah, that's just part of the recording business. When you have a 24-minute piece, the official recording hinges on finishing and recording two other pieces to go with it [on a CD]. I'm working on two other pieces right now, and have to finish writing the second one, actually. I've got a piece for all rock-and-roll people already completed, and it's going to premiere later this year. [Nico Muhly's blog]

Commenters on Nico Muhly's post about the situation rightly point out that Double Sextet should be released ASAP to capitalize on the Pulitzer publicity. The 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Music, won by Bang on a Can cofounder David Lang for his the little match girl passion (streaming here), is just seeing a CD release, with four other Lang works, on June 9th via Harmonia Mundi.

Speaking of Reich and Bang on a Can, the composer will perform his own "Clapping Music" at the Bang on a Can Big Benefit Bash taking place Wednesday, June 3rd at (Le) Poisson Rouge. Other special guests include Meredith Monk, David Cossin, Wu Man, Maya Beiser, Talujon and Doug Aitken. Tickets will run you a $400 donation to the non-profit...

...which is why the regular-people-friendly festival is hosting a "Bang on a Can't Afford the Other Benefit" show at LPR later that same night (6/3) with So Percussion, Gutbucket, Newspeak and NOW Ensemble. Tickets for that are a more reasonable $20.

Speaking of new ensembles, Bang on a Can is forming a new street band called Asphalt Orchestra. That group will make its debut later this summer at Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival.

Full info on BoaC's Asphalt Orchestra, and its Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival plans, below...

Continue reading "So Percussion (but not Dan Deacon) tonight, Steve Reich's Double Sextet, Bang on a Can benefits, street band & more"

Lincoln Center Damrosch Park bandshell - August 2008 (miro.m)
Damrosch Bandshell

This year's Lincoln Center Out of Doors (LCOOD), three weeks of FREE music and dance on the plazas of Lincoln Center, will run from August 5 through August 23. The 39th annual edition of the festival will present a wide range of music and dance events by dozens of international, U.S. and local artists, highlighted by New York, U.S. and world premieres and debuts and special commissions. Out of Doors opens Wednesday, August 5 with the worldwide debut of the Asphalt Orchestra, a new marching band developed by Bang on a Can, premiering works commissioned for Lincoln Center's 50th Anniversary from Goran Bregovic, Tyondai Braxton (of Battles), and Stew and Heidi Rodewald. The band will also perform original arrangements of iconoclastic rock, jazz, and classical material--all to movement created by MacArthur Fellowship winning choreographer Susan Marshall. Asphalt Orchestra will kick-off the first five consecutive nights of Out of Doors at 7 p.m., performing in different locations across Lincoln Center's campus, with a varying playlist each night. The opening night concert at the Damrosch Park Bandshell at 7:30 is a double-bill with Out of Doors alum The Dave Brubeck Quartet (marking the 50th Anniversary of the landmark album Time Out) with guest soloist, oud virtuoso Simon Shaheen, and Iraqi-American jazz trumpeter Amir ElSaffar leading the New York debut of his Two Rivers Large Ensemble.]
The Asphalt Ochestra shows also include "world-premiere arrangements of works by: Björk, Meshuggah, Charles Mingus, Colon Nancarrow, Frank Zappa."

And Lincoln Center and Wordless Music are again planning a performance of Rhys Chatham's Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars. It'll be happening Saturday, August 8th at Damrosch Park. Let's hope they've secured a rain location, or this could be an annual thing. Section leaders include David Daniell, John King, Seth Olinsky (Akron/Family) and Ned Sublette. The fest is taking applications to volunteer as a guitarist or bassist for the event. Also on the bill for that is "seminal funk-punk band Liquid Liquid."

Other highlights on the schedule are "a pairing of Malian singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré with Raul Midón", The Derek Trucks Band, and Slavic Soul Party.

Closing out the festival will be the 26th Annual Roots of American Music Festival at the Damrosch Park Bandshell, an event that'll touch on the blues (Four Women: A Tribute to Odetta, Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln and Eartha Kitt), Creole music (The Louisiana Renegades), country (Texas Tornados: Tribute to Doug Sahm), and "Mazel Tov, Mis Amigos: The Lost World of Latin-Jewish Sound" with Afro-Jazz bandleader Arturo O'Farrill.

Full schedule below...

Continue reading "Lincoln Center Out of Doors 2009 lineup - another attempt at Rhys Chatham's 200 Electric Guitars included "

by Andrew Frisicano

DOWNLOAD: Michael Gordon - Trance 2 (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "June" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion performing Steve Reich's "Drumming, Part Three" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "Melody Competition" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "Fast" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "Go" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "March" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "Work Slow Life" (MP3)

Look & Listen FestivalLook & Listen Festival is bringing a three-night program of contemporary classical music to two NYC art galleries this weekend (Friday, May 1st to Sunday, May 3rd). Performances include a Friday set by the Bang on a Can All-Stars and a Saturday performance by So Percussion.

So Percussion has been busy lately -- some recent performances were two nights at the Kitchen with Matmos and PLOrk on April 10th and 11th, and playing as part of the ensemble for Terry Riley's In C at Carnegie Hall on April 24th. At Look & Listen, they'll be performing works by John Cage and Meredith Monk (the latter with composer/musician/violinist Todd Reynolds). On Sunday, the program includes percussionist Svet Stoyanov performing recent Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Reich's "Electric Counterpoint." Tickets are available at the door.

The Bang on a Can All-Stars will also be at the Bang on a Can Marathon on Sunday, May 31st at the World Financial Center's Winter Garden. Full schedule, with times, for the free, 12-hour concert is below.

At the Marathon, the All-Stars will be performing a few times. Those include "performing world premieres of brand new collaborations with oscar-winning pianist, composer, and actor Ryuichi Sakamoto and another with world-renowned guitarist Bill Frisell." Michael Gordon's Trance, which was performed on April 21st at (Le) Poisson Rouge is scheduled near the start of the show, while Tortoise will close the night. A section of Trance is posted, again, above.

Full schedules for both festivals, below...

Continue reading "Look & Listen Festival this weekend (lineup), Bang on a Can Marathon announces set times (full lineup)"

by Andrew Frisicano

DOWNLOAD: Michael Gordon - Trance 2 (MP3)

Michael Gordon

For over an hour on Wednesday, April 21st, downtown space (Le) Poisson Rouge roared with the sound of Michael Gordon's Trance . Signal's performance was its debut of the work, the first of any group outside UK's Icebreaker, but it won't be Signal's last. Trance is on the schedule for the Bang on a Can Marathon on May 31st. Other acts at the fest include Ryuichi Sakamoto with Bill Frisell, Tortoise, and more.

At LPR, the 22-piece band set up in the middle of the floor. Electric guitar and bass sat centerstage -- and those two familiar rock signatures weighted the piece, signaling its shift in movements and tones with their repeating figures. In particular, the three-note electric bass pattern that starts Trance becomes intimately familiar as the work goes on and provides a through-thread of sorts for the listener (especially one attuned to rock).

It's not impossible to paint your own narrative on Trance, as its dominanant thrust shifts between bass guitar, brass, woodwind, and percussion. A sort of musical fencing match emerges, with each rhythmic component opening and closing to let another expand in its place. In the cracks of each pulse, a section across the room comes through, usually seeming to lag slightly behind.

One dialogue, between the reeds and the center sax (rocking back and forth as if in a trance himself), was particularly engaging. For a while, that group held the floor while other sections maintained side conversations, only apparent in the preeminent instruments' pauses.

In the cozy space of LPR, Trace seemed to confront each listener at different times. Parts of the piece will scare the shit out of you. Unannounced drums early on set the expectations for volume, which get continually torn down and built up again as Trance progresses. Its pre-finale lull cuts the pace to a meditative drone, before the musicians build to an inevitable, gratifying climax. Conductor Brad Lubman almost jumped out of his Jack Purcells as he cued the piece's cresting volume. It's always a pleasant surprise when an extended, nearly-hourlong piece of music leaves you wanting more.

continued below...

Continue reading "a review of Signal's 'Trance' performance @ Le Poisson Rouge & an interview with its composer Michael Gordon"

by Andrew Frisicano

Steve Reich

New York-based composer Steve Reich has won the Pulitzer Prize for music with his piece Double Sextet. Reich composed the work for two identical sextets of instruments, each made up of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, vibraphone and piano.NPR]
The award-winning piece was commissioned by new-music ensemble eighth blackbird, who toured with Double Sextet as part of their The Only Moving Thing program in 2008. That show visited New York's Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall on Thursday, April 17th, 2008.

The second half of The Only Moving Thing was a new joint composition by Bang on a Can artistic directors David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe, called singing in the dead of night. Gordon's Trance is being performed at (Le) Poisson Rouge on Wednesday, April 22nd.

On May 20, BAM is hosting a screening of The South Bank Show: Steve Reich. The event, which also includes a reception and a Q&A with Reich himself, is free, but "exclusively for Friends of BAM".

More info on Double Sextext, with a NYT review of its debut and videos of eighth blackbird rehearsing and recording the piece below...

Continue reading "Steve Reich wins a Pulitzer, appearing at BAM for a Q&A "

by Andrew Frisicano

DOWNLOAD: Michael Gordon - Trance 2 (MP3)

Signal @ (Le) Poisson Rouge...
Signal

New York composer and Bang on a Can co-founder/artistic director Michael Gordon will bring his 1994 piece Trance to NYC for the first time in more than ten years on Wednesday, April 22nd at (Le) Poisson Rouge. Tickets are still on sale.

Signal, who performed at last year's Bang on a Can Marathon and showcased Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians at LPR in September (among other gigs), will play as a 22-piece ensemble for the performance. It will be the first time Trance has been performed by a group other than UK ensemble Icebreaker, who Gordon wrote the piece for and who has been performing the work regularly abroad.

[Gordon's] best works are characterized by insistently repeating rhythms and melodies and, in some cases, instrumentation that mixes rock and classical colorations. "Trance" (1994), an extended elaboration on a simple electric-bass riff, has become a post-Minimalist classic. [NY Times]
If you miss it, Signal will visit the piece again during the free, 12-hour Bang on a Can Marathon on May 31st at World Financial Center.

An MP3 of Part Two of the six part work (which was split into 7 MP3's), performed by Icebreaker, is posted above. The other five parts are, or will be, posted as free downloads on other websites this week. We're not allowed to tell you where they are though, but we can give clues and say that you won't find them at any of the usual suspects. The MP3's are scattered mostly across classical music-related sites. Find them all, and, in addition to having them all, you'll have the chance to win tickets to Trance at LPR. More details below.

And speaking of the Bang on a Can Marathon, we now have an even more-updated version of the lineup. Check it out below.

Nico Muhly's (hint) take on Michael Gordon, more upcoming Signal dates, and everything mentioned above, below...

Continue reading "Michael Gordon's Trance being performed, get MP3's, win tix + Bang on a Can line-up updated (again)"

by Andrew Frisicano

Ryuichi Sakamoto
Bang on a Can Marathon

The Bang on a Can Marathon returns to World Financial Center for its fourth year to kick-off the 2009 River To River Festival on May 31st. The 12-hour marathon (noon-midnight) of mind-boggling, genre-bending music will include Ryuichi Sakamoto, Tortoise, Bill Frisell, Bang on a Can All-Stars and more.
Those acts will be performing "music composed by Gavin Bryars, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Evan Ziporyn, and many more." The annual NYC event is free.

As previously reported, Tortoise will play a Saturday, May 30th show at the Bell House, in addition to the Marathon. Tortoise also has an appearance at Pitchfork Fest, plus a new album coming out and a track on Thrill Jockey's Record Store Day comp.

Michael Gordon, whose work will be performed at the Bang on a Can Marathon, is also having his composition Trance performed by Signal at a (Le) Poisson Rouge show on Wednesday, April 22nd.

Other free shows coming up at the World Financial Center this summer include M83, Mountains and Scanners. Clogs and Laurie Anderson play there TONIGHT (April 15).

The Japan Times recently profiled Japanese pianist and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, who will be performing at the Bang on a Can Marathon, about his 30 year career and his connections with David Bowie, John Cage, and others. Read an excerpt from that, with videos of Sakamoto solo and with Iggy Pop, below...

Continue reading "Bang on a Can Marathon - initial 2009 lineup (Bill Frisell, Tortoise, and RYUICHI SAKAMOTO included)"

by Andrew Frisicano

DOWNLOAD: Sonic Youth - The Eternal (montage) (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "June"(MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion performing Steve Reich's "Drumming, Part Three" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "Melody Competition" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "Fast"(MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "Go" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "March" (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: So Percussion - "Work Slow Life"(MP3)

Bang on a Can All-Stars...
Bang on a Can All-Stars

New work by Dirty Projector David Longstreth is OFF THE PROGRAM for the Bang on a Can All-Stars People's Commissioning Fund (PCF) concert on April 2nd at Merkin Hall. Maybe it has something to do with Longstreth currently playing Europe with Dirty Projectors, or the host of other shows the band has planned (including the Longstreth new-composition debut scheduled with Björk at Housing Works Bookstore & Café on May 8th).

The spot on the April 2nd concert is being filled by a piece composed by guitarist and Downtown muscian Fred Frith...

Fred Frith, the English guitarist and composer...is one of the more respected figures in the gray area of music where rock meets the avant-garde. A Dadaist improviser with a streak of the mystic in him, Mr. Frith, like that granddaddy of avant-gardists John Cage, finds music in everything that clanks, squeaks, rattles and hisses. He can turn just about anything lying around the house into a musical instrument. And in one sequence, he and some friends give an impromptu backyard performance of bossa nova music using rhythm instruments made of empty bottles and other household debris. [NY Times]
Tickets for the event are still on sale. Also on the bill for that night is "How Deep Are Rivers? (A Map is a Good Piece of Paper)," the "New York Premiere of a live collaboration with Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth." Full program below.

The next scheduled Bang on a Can event (this time in collaboration with Wordless Music) takes place at LPR on April 22nd, with So Percussion performing as part of supergroup Signal. Tickets are available for the show, which will feature Bang on a Can founder Michael Gordon's Trance played in its entirety. Later this spring, both the Bang on a Can All-Stars and So Percussion will play the Look & Listen Festival 2009 in New York (May 1-3).

But before that, So Percussion plays at the MATA Festival (for young composer new-works) on Saturday, April 4th at (Le) Poisson Rouge. (Tickets are on sale.).

The group then performs with Matador band and Björk collaborators Matmos (and special guests PLOrk, the Princeton Laptop Orchestra) at The Kitchen on Friday, April 10th and Saturday, April 11th. Tickets for both Friday and Saturday are on sale: "All three [acts] will share the stage to preview songs from an upcoming collaborative album, as well as new arrangements of music from Matmos's Supreme Balloon and So Percussion's Amid the Noise."

Program for the April 2nd concert and videos from 1990 avant-doc on Fred Frith, Step Across the Border, below...

Continue reading "Longstreth drops off PCF, Matmos playing w/ So Percussion "

by Andrew Frisicano

Tortoise @ All Tomorrow's Parties (more by Zach Dilgard)
Tortoise

Instrument-driven Chicago post-rockers Tortoise have announced a NYC show happening a little less than a month before the release of of their forthcoming LP, Beacons of Ancestorship, out June 23rd on Thrill Jockey. The Saturday, May 30th gig at the Bell House in Brooklyn is just one of four performances currently on the band's schedule. Bird Show is opening, and tickets are now on sale.

While in NYC, Tortoise will also make an appearance at the previously mentioned Bang on a Can Marathon happening at the Winter Garden in the World Financial Center in Manhattan on May 31st (free).

The band's other dates include a May 29th show in Buffalo, NY and a July 17th appearance at the Pitchfork Festival in Chicago, where the group will play the fest's "Set Lists by Request" evening on Friday. Stay tuned for more dates to be announced.

Beacons of Ancestorship will be Tortoise's first proper album since 2004's It's All Around You. The new album's first track, "High Class Slim Came Floatin' In," will be included on the Thrill Jockey Record Store Day comp, Records Toreism . The LP comes out on Record Store Day (April 18th) and is limited to 900 copies. Also, "the band will be releasing a series of 5" records following the album's release."

"A characteristic Tortoise album is one that traverses an encyclopedia of styles and reference points, a document of where musical intersections and dialogue are occurring at a given moment in time. Beacons of Ancestorship is no different, with nods to techno, punk, electro, lo-fi noise, cut-up beats, heavily processed synths, and mournful, elegiac dirges. We see these ideas working out in compositions like "High Class Slim Came Floatin' In," an eight-minute track which playfully references the world of ecstatic rave and dance culture with a curiously ambivalent, multi-part suite overlaid with robotic, machine-sounding melodies that stop and start in several different time signatures before the song's ultimate resolution; and again in "Yinxianghechengqi," which begins as a straightforward uptempo math-rocker before steadily accelerating into a wall of fuzzy atonal sqwonk."
All tour dates, Beacons of Ancestorship track list, and video of Tortoise from last year's All Tomorrow's Parties in Upstate NY below...

Continue reading "Tortoise - new album info, a Brooklyn show, Bang on a Can"