William Winant Interview and Album Stream

William Winant 1
William Winant 1 (Photo credit: michaelz1)

From SPIN:

Percussionist William Winant has been the avant-elite’s go-to percussionist for more than 35 years. The list of folks he’s worked with is basically an abridged history of the 20th century’s back end: John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Pierre Boulez, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Frank Zappa, Alvin Lucier, Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Sonic Youth, and Mr. Bungle, to pick a handful. But despite appearances on more than 200 recordings, he had never released a proper solo album, a grievous wrong long-running indie label Poon Village has finally righted with the release of Five American Percussion Pieces.

AMN Interviews: Jeff Surak (Sonic Circuits Festival)


The Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music returns Oct. 1-6 at venues in Washington, D.C. and suburban Maryland with a lineup of more than 80 artists from across the nation and around the world. As in past years, this 13th annual festival will bring to the stage a wide spectrum of genre-defying sounds, encompassing electro-acoustic composition, free improv and processed noise, often involving custom-designed or home-built instruments. The 2013 festival will also include film, video and dance, notable local artists in new ensembles of the Sonic Circuits community.

Jeff Surak, founder of the Zeromoon label, is the visionary responsible for putting together the Sonic Circuits Festival.  Jeff was kind enough to take time out of his busy pre-festival schedule to answer a few questions.

How long have you been putting together the Sonic Circuits Festival?

Sonic Circuits as a festival has been around since 2002. I’ve been involved as an organizer since the 2006 edition. From 2008 Sonic Circuits has been organizing shows year round.

What are your artistic goals for the festival?

To present music as well as dance and film to DC area audiences that otherwise would not be presented. To spotlight the wealth of exciting local artists. To show the world that there is another side to DC that is ignored by the media and press, that defies its reputation as a stuffy conservative city driven by politics and money.

Looking at this year’s lineup, I can see that the music is eclectic, with many different genres and media represented. Is there an underlying aesthetic or other factor that you look for when selecting artists?

Experimental music is a wide catch all term that covers a lot of territory. We bring together different approaches and subgenres, be it academic to underground, lofi to sound art, improv to composed, ambient to noise, etc etc. Things that defy these meager descriptions. I treat the overall structure of the festival as a composition itself, seeking to complement and contrast acts to create one long listening experience for the audience. One can sample a single show, but you cant get an accurate feel for the festival unless you go to every performance.

Recently an article was published on how the Baltimore / DC area has a quietly growing experimental music scene. Do you agree and if so, how does Sonic Circuits fit in?

Its definitely growing. Many of the artists active in DC have been around for decades, so its not necessarily a new phenomena. I think that Sonic Circuits has created a vehicle that allows artists to present their work on a consistent basis and has helped develop a community. Before it was difficult to find venues willing to host such music. Sonic Circuits has created awareness, and opened doors to new places to present music. People have realized that they are not the only ones. There is strength in numbers.

I understand you’re active as an electronic sound artist yourself. Tell us a bit about your own music and collaborations.

I work more in electro-acoustic materials, and have been doing so for over 30 years. I run a label zeromoon (http://zeromoon.com) that primarily releases music online for free. I’ve put out stuff by many DC area artists and from other countries. In my own work I tend to vary from moment to moment, but i gravitate in between improvised/chance music to fully arranged…sound art, drones, musique concrete. Locally I have a few collab projects such as Makioki Sisters (with Cory O’Brien, heavy textures & drones), NVS Trio (acoustic string trio with Daniel Barbiero & Gary Rouzer), my outdoor guerilla performance project Salarymen (with Gary Rouzer, tapes, objects, etc), and often perform with Janel & Anthony.

Anything else you’d like us to know about this year’s festival?

Its a gas.

Special thanks to Dan Barbiero for doing the heavy lifting for this interview.

AMN Reviews: Anthony Braxton – Echo Echo Mirror House (Victo, 2013)

Braxton, Anthony
Braxton, Anthony (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not to be confused with Echo Echo Mirror House (New York) 2011, released on the Tricentric Foundation label, this recording is of a septet performance from the 2011 Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV). Like its counterpart, this Echo Echo Mirror House performance is a spontaneous composition of Braxton’s recordings overlaid on top of each other, along with improvisation. It is as if you are listening to seven radio stations simultaneously, each playing a different Braxton work.

With the maestro on this date were Carl Testa, Taylor Ho Bynum, Mary Halvorson, Jessica Pavone, Jay Rozen, and Aaron Siegel. Each of these individuals, acclaimed musicians and improvisors in their own right, were armed with instruments of choice as well as an iPod of Braxton recordings. When not playing, they would select tracks from their iPods to combine into a meta-composition.

Of course, one might wonder how such a procedure could result in music that even resembles being listenable. But it does. While it is difficult to follow who is doing what and whether the music is played or recorded, I can usually pick three or four disparate voices. Dissonant, sure, but somehow they work together.

Braxton is not the first to explore sound worlds in which several compositions are overlapped. Famously, Charles Ives did so 100 years ago. However, Ives did not have digital technology or a catalog of his own recordings to help him out, and didn’t manage to hear some of his works fully played in his lifetime. In the 21st century, Braxton is redefining the symphony in a head-scratching, convoluted, difficult, but ultimately rewarding fashion. And that’s good thing.

Newsbits: Matthew Shipp, Ross Hammond, and MOPDTK Reviewed / Evan Parker Commissioned

English: Evan Parker with Alexander von Schlip...

Piano Sutras, the latest recording from Matthew Shipp, is reviewed.

Ross Hammond’s Cathedrals also received a positive review.

And another review, this time of the new release from Mostly Other People do the Killing.

Evan Parker has been commissioned to work with Sten Sandell and produce events in 2014 with AC Projects / Counterflows, an organisation which works closely with the CCA in Glasgow and Cafe Oto in London. This project will be in collaboration with the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

Point of Departure 44 is Out

From Point of Departure:

Page One: a column by Bill Shoemaker

Gerald Cleaver: Surrendering to the Experience: an interview with Troy Collins

A Fickle Sonance: a column by Art Lange

Where’s Borderick?: by Kevin Whitehead

The Book Cooks:
Improvisation, Creativity and Consciousness:
jazz as template for music, education and society
by Edward W. Sarath
(State University of New York Press; Albany)

Far Cry: a column by Brian Morton

The Art of David Tudor: by Michael Rosenstein

Moment’s Notice: Reviews of Recent Recordings

Ezz-thetics: a column by Stuart Broomer

Travellin’ Light: Dominic Lash