AMN Reviews: BLK TAG – Impacted Wisdom [Fuzzy Panda] & Chester Hawkins – Natural Causes [Intangible Arts]

Within recent months a sense of anxiety and disquiet has become common among many musicians and other artists in the Washington, DC area. It’s a synchronicity of a kind that this atmosphere harmonizes with an enduring current among the DC area’s experimental music scene. Although hardly unique to DC area artists, it nevertheless has been well-represented here; it consists in a predilection for layered slabs of generally thickly textured, darkly-shaded electronic sounds analogous to the opaque concrete facades of weathered Brutalist architecture. (Admittedly, all analogies by nature contain an element of imprecision, not least those drawn between music and other art forms, but still…) Often taking the guise of drone-based, long-form compositions or improvisations, this music is likely to institute movement through slow timbral or textural change rather than through melodic or harmonic development. A pair of new releases by three longtime DC area electronics artists, both of which appear as vinyl LPs and as digital downloads, retains some of the characteristics of the basic sound—a fine example of which could be heard in a recent electroacoustic set by Jeff Surak at Rhizome DC’s Maple House–but with developments and refinements distinctly these artists’ own. (Disclosure: The artists discussed here are friends, colleagues, and occasional collaborators.)

Impacted Wisdom is a new issue from BLK TAG, a collaborative project of Chris Videll, aka Tag Cloud, and J.S. Adams, the artistic director for BLK w/BEAR and the turntable ensemble STYLUS. Videll has brought an almost subliminal melodic sensibility to heavy electronic drone; for this recording he uses his standard collection of various analogue electronics along with Tibetan bowls, bells, shruti box and harmonium, all of which are capable of generating thick, tonally-focused textures. Adams, who with BLK w/BEAR uses a miscellany of instruments and objects as well as provides conceptual structures that serve as compositional skeletons, here plays turntables spinning prepared vinyl, tapes, effects, loops and electronics. In addition to Videll and Adams’ sounds, the recording includes digital contributions by Doug Poplin, Guillermo Pizzaro and Gleb Kanasevich. Individually, Videll and Adams tend to structure their performances through textural variations, and that is the case collectively with the music on Impacted Wisdom. The seventeen-minute long Theeth opens with throbbing, droning chords that crest and recede in dynamic waves; the scuffle and click of Adams’ prepared vinyl emerge as the drone takes on a harsher edge and the atmosphere gradually becomes more oppressive. For a finale, Videll manipulates the timbre into something resembling the hum of an ungrounded appliance. Like Theeth, the shorter K231 HIDDEND RVS RMX is densely textured but somehow lighter in tone. It traces a slowly rising and falling dynamic arc as it develops through nuanced shifts in the timbral surface.

Chester Hawkins’ Natural Causes is a soundtrack recording for the film Pale Trees by filmmaker Tim Ashby. Hawkins, the artist formerly known as Blue Sausage Infant, has over the years developed a sound based on thick electronic washes overlaid on brief, looped phrases. With Natural Causes Hawkins refines the rawer surfaces of his earlier work, analogous to measuring and cutting heavy slabs into regular blocks incised with recurring designs. Throughout much of this new piece he sets up sequenced phrases to function as ostinati, giving the music the character of beat-driven drone. Rhythm is the basic organizational principle at work, as variations in tempo and the lengths of repeated phrases serve as structural landmarks distinguishing sections within the whole. In order to accommodate the LP format the piece is broken up into two side-long parts, but the division doesn’t prevent the sound from inducing an enveloping, hypnotic effect.

Daniel Barbiero

Fundamental Festival Coming May 19 in NY


When: May 19, 2017, 5-11:30 pm
Where: Planeta, 295 East 8th St, NYC

Aki Onda
Tyler Gilmore’s Western Verse
Lea Bertucci
Tatsuya Nakatani
Tombstones by Michael Pisaro
Earth Tongues

A marathon evening presenting artists at the cutting edge of NYC’s live sound art community. The performers will present works tailored to Planeta’s unique space and sound system, built by innovative engineers Sound Concern.

Lea Bertucci is an interdisciplinary artist who works with Photography, Sound, Video and Installation. She received her BA in Photography from Bard College in 2007, the same year she was awarded a fellowship from the Tierney Foundation. The emphasis of her work lies in exciting the liminal areas of perception. She has performed solo and collaborative works at venues such as Roulette, Issue Project Room, The Kitchen, Anthology Film Archives, St. Marks Ontological-Hysteric Theater, free103point9, Galapagos Artspace, The Queens Museum of Art and the High Zero Festival.

Tatsuya Nakatani is an acoustic sound artist and master percussionist originally from Osaka, Japan. He has released over eighty recordings in North America and Europe. Residing in the USA since the mid-nineties, he has performed countless solo percussion concerts and has collaborated with hundreds of artists in international music festivals, university concert halls, art museums and independent venues. Infamous for his constant touring, Nakatani criss-crosses the country every year inspiring audiences with his pioneering sound. In addition to his solo performances, he conducts the Nakatani Gong Orchestra (NGO), a mobile community engagement project which organizes local ensembles performing on multiple bowed

Aki Onda is a composer, performer, visual artist, and curator. Onda was born in Japan and currently resides in New York. He is particularly known for his “Cassette Memories” — works compiled from a “sound diary” of field-recordings collected by using the cassette Walkman over a span of last quarter-century. He creates compositions, performances, and visual artworks from those sound For Immediate Release April 24th, 2017 memories. Onda has performed at The Kitchen, MoMA, P.S.1 MOMA, ISSUE Project Room (New York), Time-Based Art Festival (Portland), Images Festival (Toronto), ICA (London), Louvre Museum, Palais de Tokyo, Fondation Cartier (Paris), Argos, Bozar, Wiels (Brussels), International Film Festival Rotterdam, Nam June Paik Art Center (Seoul), Sound Live Tokyo (Tokyo) and many others.

An ensemble dedicated to exploring the scope and scale of experimental improvised music, Earth Tongues approaches each performance as a chance to build new, engaging work that questions our relationship to music and our understanding of sound. Consisting of Carlo Costa on percussion, Joe Moffett on trumpet, and Dan Peck on tuba, the trio creates immersive pieces that explore dynamic and temporal extremes. The ensemble released its second album, the two-part Ohio, on Neither/Nor records in 2016.

The experimental music quartet composed of harpist Marilu Donovan, bass clarinetist Mara Mayer, percussionist Matthew O’Koren, and vocalist Gabrielle Herbst will perform selections from Michael Pisaro‘s work Tombstones. As a composer and guitarist from the Wandelweiser collective, Pisaro’s work explores the relationship between silence and sound. Tombstones has been described as “drily diffuse and glacially paced compositions as challenging as they are beautiful” [Boomkat review]. The quartet also worked with the composer on a performance of the piece at Issue Project Room in 2015, and has subsequently performed at Home Audio in 2016. “A composer is somebody who changes the sonic situation… I see composition as basically just a change, because we have to admit that sound is going on all the time.” —Michael Pisaro

Tyler Gilmore is a composer and electronic musician, and founder of Not Art Records. He has worked with Jason Moran, Alicia Hall Moran, Cuong Vu, Jenny Hval, Ron Miles, and many others. His writing has been heard at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, National Sawdust, and the Jazz Gallery. His recent premieres include “From Overhead” with The Switch Ensemble in Valencia,
Spain, and “More Like a Reader” with The Playground Ensemble in Denver, Colorado.

All About Jazz Reviews

Evan Parker, saxophonist, picture taken in Jaz...

Source: All About Jazz.

The Book of Transfigurations (Songlines Recordings)

Matthew Shipp
Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich (Hatology)

Evan Parker / John Russell / Ian Brighton / Philipp Wachsmann / Marcio Mattos / Trevor Taylor
Reunion – Live From Cafe Oto (FMR Records)

Thollem | Mazurek
Blind Curves and Box Canyons (Relative Pitch Records)

Sex Mob
Cultural Capital (Rex Records)

Cassette Plus Download Labels

Jenny Scheinman
Here on Earth (Royal Potato Family)

This Week in New York 


Matthew Goodheart (piano, computer-controlled metal percussion) and Matthew Ostrowski (electronics, fluorescent lights) perform solo compositions based on computer control of musical and non-musical objects, while also performing together as an improvising duo for the first time.
Monday, May 8 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $15-$20
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Longtime collaborators John Luther Adams and author Barry Lopez discuss their work, which explores environmental concerns and the relationship between the physical landscape and human culture. With a performance of Among Red Mountains by pianist Lisa Moore and a reading of Lopez’s essay “The Invitation” by James Naughton.
Tuesday, May 9 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $25, $21 members, $15 30 and under (with ID)
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, New York, NY

loadbang premieres works by ICEBERG composers Drake Andersen, Alex Burtzos, Yu-Chun Chien, Will Healy, and Jonathan Russ. Also on the program is a work by a winner of ICEBERG’s 1st call for scores. Like every ICEBERG event, this concert features an open bar happy hour beginning at 7:30, and a discussion with the composers and performers after the show.
Wednesday, May 10 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $20, $10 students
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music, Benzaquen Hall, 450 West 37th Street, New York, NY

Miya Masaoka presents A Line Becomes A Circle, a Shomyo-Noh chamber opera featuring a libretto with Haiku fragments written by the composer’s ancestor, the poet Shiki Masaoka (1867-1902). Inspired by a Fulbright trip to Japan in 2016 to study Noh, the piece is both sparse and rich, weaving together bel canto opera with Shomyo and Noh vocalizations and percussion.
Wednesday, May 10 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $15-$20
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

This concert features six original compositions by Daniel Zlatkin. The program includes Glimpse II for solo viola, Prisoner’s Cinema for five cellos, Clifton Songs for mezzo-soprano and piano, Guardian for bass flute and piano, Fades for solo flute, and Revenants for brass sextet.
Wednesday, May 10 at 9:30 PM
Tickets $15-$25
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

The Chiara String Quartet performs the New York Premiere of Pierre Jalbert’s String Quartet No. 6 and Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet with Clarinetist Todd Palmer.
Thursday, May 11 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $50
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, 1000 5th Avenue, New York, NY

Lisa Moore performs a special program, The Pleasure of Being Lost, curated by John Luther Adams. The program features piano works by composers who have influenced and informed his work. Composers include Peter Garland, Lois V Vierk, Jim Fox, Michael Byron, David Mahler, Lou Harrison, and Adams himself.
Thursday, May 11 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $15
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, New York, NY

Accordionist Guy Klucevsek presents Bellows Brigade, the most recent in a series of all-accordion groups that Klucevsek has put together over the decades. The repertoire features tunes and compositions by all the members of the band: Guy Klucevsek, Will Holshouser, Nathan Koci, and Kamala Sankaram.
Thursday, May 11 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $15-$20
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Hunter Opera Theater presents the NYC Premieres of Henry Mollicone’s Lady Bird: First Lady of the Land and Kitty Brazelton’s Fireworks: An American Opera Buffa.
Thursday, May 11 & Friday, May 12 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $15, $5 students/seniors,
Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, 695 Park Ave, New York, NY

Singing cellist Meaghan Burke returns to Joe’s Pub to celebrate the release of her second album, Creature Comforts. Meaghan will be joined by The Rhythm Method string quartet, steel-string guitarist Zeke Healy, bass clarinetist Carlos Cordeiro, and drummer-percussionist Peter Wise.
Thursday, May 11 at 9:30 PM
Tickets $16
Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, New York, NY

The Crossing performs John Luther Adams’s Canticles of the Holy Wind, a concert length work for 32 singers, to celebrate the CD release on Cantaloupe Music.
Friday, May 12 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $35, $30 members, $25 30 and under (with ID)
St. Michael’s Church, Amsterdam Avenue near W 100th Street, New York, NY

Hosted by Q2 Music’s Helga Davis, Silent Voices features new compositions from eight composers—Jeff Beal, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Paul Miller (DJ Spooky), Nico Muhly, Shara Nova, Toshi Reagon, Kamala Sankaram, and Caroline Shaw—who boldly unpack their social experiences, observations, and questions about “otherness” in America.
Friday, May 12 & Saturday, May 13 at 7:30 PM
Tickets from $20
BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building, Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY

This concert features compositions by Melissa Grey, Lynn Bechtold, Dan Cooper, Gene Pritsker, Mark Belodubrovsky, Douglas DaSilva, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mark Kostabi, and Richard Rodgers.
Friday, May 12 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $30, $15 students/seniors
Steve & Marie Sgouros Theatre at The Players Theatre, 115 Macdougal Street, New York, NY

Flutist Molly Barth and friends play music by composer David Lang from their upcoming CD on Cantaloupe Music. Performers joining Molly Barth are Jeffrey Zeigler, Matt Albert, David Riley and Stuart Gerber.
Saturday, May 13 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $29
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

An outdoor performance of John Luther Adams’s Ten Thousand Birds, in its New York premiere by the commissioning ensemble, Alarm Will Sound with music director Alan Pierson. For this immersive work, performers are situated throughout Morningside Park, playing material based on the songs of birds native to the eastern hardwood forest.
Sunday, May 14 at 7:30 PM
Morningside Park, W 114th Street and Morningside Avenue, New York, NY