Musical World-Building: Albums Set in Lands of the Artists’ Own Creation 

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

During the boom in science fiction and fantasy literature that hit during the middle of the 20th century, writers began exploring in greater depth and detail the worlds in which their stories took place. From the exotic interstellar cultures of Frank Herbert and Ursula K. Le Guin to the high lore of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth and the swords-and-sorcery epics of Robert E. Howard’s Conan The Barbarian novels, these meticulously mapped worlds were more than literary backdrops—they were living, breathing characters in their own right.

This literary approach—known as “world-building”—found its musical analogue in the ‘70s idea of the concept album. Adventurous musicians sought to give their creations the richness and conceptual scope of an imaginary universe. Some groups dedicated themselves to to the work of one particular author—like Tolkien, or H.P. Lovecraft. Others set out to develop their own imagined worlds from the ground up. Christian Vander of the French progressive rock group Magma created an imaginary planet, Kobaïa, and a language, Kobaïan, in which the band’s serpentine space operas are sung. (Magma’s influence is so great that there exists an entire prog subgenre, Zeuhl, devoted to exploring Vander’s universe.) The trumpeter and composer Jon Hassell refined a style he termed “Fourth World”—a fusion of first-world and third-world musics that created something exotic-sounding, but from no particular time or place. Meanwhile, Afrofuturism has provided a rich seam of world-building, as musicians and other creatives sought to find new and radical ways to reframe the Black experience—from the cosmic mythos of Sun Ra and the comic book sci-fi of Parliament/Funkadelic and Janelle Monae’s Metropolis suite, a series of science fiction-inspired albums that draw on the works of Fritz Lang, Philip K. Dick, and The Twilight Zone to sketch out a near-future dystopia.

Jason Kao Hwang Upcoming Performances

Source: Jason Kao Hwang.

Jason Kao Hwang/Critical Response
Jason Kao Hwang – composer/violin/viola/electronics
Michael T.A.Thompson – drum set
Anders Nilsson – electric guitar/electronics

Saturday, 9/14,4pm
2950 Maple St. NW
Takoma Park, Washington, DC 20012

Saturday, 9/21. 3:30 pm
Children’s Magical Garden
129 Stanton St.
New York City, NY

Thursday, 9/26, 7pm
Augusta Savage Gallery
University of Massachusetts
180 Infirmary Way
Amherst, MA
7pm Patricia Spears Jones
8pm Critical Response

Friday, 9/27, 8 pm
Saturday, 9/28, 8 pm
Yoshiko Chuma
Secret Journey to Tipping Utopia
92nd Street Y
1395 Lexington Avenue
New York City, NY

Yoshiko Chuma’s The School of Hard Knocks
Jason Kao Hwang, Violinist/Violist
Emily Bartsch, Dancer
Elizabeth Kresch, Painter of the Portraits
Miriam Parker, Dancer
Dan Kuan Peeples, Actor
Emily Marie Pope, Dancer
Alexis Ruiseco-Lombera, Dancer
Chisa Takahashi, Makeup Artist
Dane Terry, Pianist
Devin Brahja Waldman, Saxophonist
Zaybra, Dancer

Sunday, 9/29, 8pm
Jason Kao Hwang/Sing House
Jason Kao Hwang – composer/violin/viola
Andrew Drury – drum set
Ken Filiano – string bass
Chris Forbes – piano
Kalun Leung – trombone
Jazz Habitat
El Barrio’s Art Space
215 East 99th Street
New York City, New York
7pm set: David Leon (alto sax), Sonya Belaya (piano), Florian Herzog (bass), Stephen Boegehold (drums)

Seattle Scene: September 13-28, 2019

From Seattle’s Wayward Music Series:


Chapel Performance Space at Good Shepherd Center

4th Floor, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N, Seattle 98103 (corner N 50th St. in Wallingford)

Every month, Nonsequitur and a community of like-minded presenters and artists offer ten concerts of adventurous music in an informal yet respectful all-ages setting: contemporary classical, free improvisation, the outer limits of jazz, electronic music, microtonal/new instruments, sound art, and other extraordinary sonic experiences.

Bleeps + Loops: SPACE
Fri. Sep. 13, 8 PM; $5 – $15 donation at door

A meditative ambient soundscape & planetarium experience in quadraphonic audio. The soundtrack to your individual meditations will be provided by a collective of modular synthesists, whose individual acts will overlap to create a continuous sonic experience: Tim Held, Snowdn, Fathom the Void, ZodiacGallery, Demitrius, Vawter, Ohn Dāka, Auxia, Brien Barrett, Lousy Falcon.

Cellista + Zero Collective + noisepoetnobody
Fri. Sep. 20, 8 PM; $5 – $15 donation at door

Bay Area post-classical artist Cellista performs excerpts from Transfigurations, a multimedia work steeped in genres, social commentary and fueled by the conscious imagery that surrounds us all. Zero Collective (LA) specializes in improvisation, noise and audio surrealism. Sonic improviser, instrument builder/destroyer, and analog synthesist noisepoetnobody also joins along with collaborator Cailleach.

Alforjs + Bad Luck
Thu. Sep. 19, 8 PM; $5 – $15 donation at door

Alforjs makes idiosyncratic music reflecting the cauldron of disparate influences that is Lisbon in the 21st century, from the most avant-garde jazz, to the darkest and most peripheral dance music, to noise, electronics and electroacoustics. Local duo Bad Luck (Neil Welch, saxophone + elec- tronics and Christopher Icasiano, drums) is a genre-defying supernova of electronics, metal, folk and jazz.

John Teske: vectorscores
Sat. Sep. 21, 8 PM; $5 – $15 donation at door

Seattle composer John Teske presents a new suite of graphic and generated works for any ensemble. vectorscores uses web technologies to generate and render scores. The shape of each piece is composed, with some flexibility in the details, so the works as a whole are crafted but each performance is unique. The new suite explores some recurring thoughts, visions, and dreams from a dark and surreal time, expanding on the potential of the vectorscores project.

Wed. 9/25 – Bryan Eubanks/Greg Kelley duo + Catherine Lamb’s Prisma Interius IV (2017)

Thu. 9/26 – Nonsequitur presents Canções Profundas, a work by Steve Peters about family history in the Azores Islands with Greg Campbell, Jesse Canterbury, Lesli Dalaba, Amy Denio, and Christian Pincock

Fri. 9/27 – Different Drummer, with Don Dieterich (percussion), Anna Doak (bass), Brandon Vance (violin) and Gretchen Yanover (cello)

Sat. 9/28 – The Sound Ensemble performs works by Christopher Dietz, Jerry Mader, Jennifer Butler, Sang Mi Ahn, Bohuslav Martinu

Newsbits: Alexander Noice / Merzbow, Haino, and Pandi / Frank Zappa / Sam Newsome / Suzanne Ciani

The new album from Alexander Noice grabs yet another positive review.

Another notable release, the new album from Merzbow, Keiji Haino, and Balazs Pandi is reviewed. is releasing a Halloween ’73 box set.

I Care If You Listen reviews the latest from Sam Newsome.

The Wire has a mix of Suzanne Ciani pieces from across her career.

The Free Jazz Collective Reviews

Source: The Free Jazz Collective.

The Quintet – Events 1998-1999 (PNL, 2019) *****

Gunter Hampel – ‘Bounce’ Live at Theater Gütersloh (European Jazz Legends, 2017) ****

Kang Tae Hwan & Midori Takada – An Eternal Moment (NoBusiness Records, 2019) ****

Somersaults – Numerology of Birdsong (Westhill Records, 2019) ****½

Gard Nilssen – The Norwegian Drummer Everyone Wants To Play With

Anthony Braxton – Quartet (New Haven) 2014 (Firehouse 12, 2019) ****