A/B Duo‘s next album, Variety Show is dropping on October 7, and includes LA composer (okay, we’ll count Riverside because the Outpost Concert Series is awesome) Ian Dicke‘s piece Isla, which has its origin in he and his wife’s old band. And guess what? We’ve got an interview with Ian, and an exclusive stream. Here’s that.
Tell me a bit about the piece on the new A/B Duo record.
When I lived in Austin, I played bass in a band with my wife Elisa Ferrari. We played fairly frequently and were usually paid in all-you-can-drink Lone Stars. We recorded two albums and my piece Isla is a remix of our song “Isla de Niños.” The electronic part includes Elisa’s singing, as well as some of the other instrument parts that pop in sporadically. Much of my work incorporates source material and I really enjoyed writing a new piece around the core of this song.
What was it like collaborating with them?
A/B Duo are so much fun to work with! Besides being kickass performers, they are very comfortable with technology and were able to navigate the piece’s intricate setup with ease.
A lot of your works deal with sociopolitical issues. Despite how disheartening recent months have been politically, are you finding a lot to drive your work? Does that ever get tiring for you?
Yes, unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever run out of abysmal political topics to work with. I suppose part of my attraction to writing programmatic music is cathartic. But as a composer, I believe there are countless artistic impulses hidden within our daily lives and my work focuses on finding new modes of musical expression within these experiences.
In addition to composing, you’re a director of both Fast Forward Austin and UCR’s Outpost Concert Series. How do these roles inform each other?
I actually retired this as a director of FFA this past spring, but…
A composer must be a strong advocate for fellow composers and the musicians who support our work. We cannot simply write pieces and wait for the next commission (well, not me at least!). When we develop projects that do not directly serve ourselves, we discovery a whole new world of things. New audiences, new performer friends, new artists in other disciplines, and so on. Directing a concert series certainly requires a different set of skills, and I have learned a tremendous amount over the years. New music is still (and perhaps will always be) a relatively small community. We all prosper when we create opportunities for each other.
I’m always curious about Austin – what’s the scene there like? Can you compare it with LA a bit?
There is a definite kinship between the two cities. Austin has a vibrant new music scene, but it isn’t over saturated and cliquish like other larger cities. I think LA’s scene also has a welcoming atmosphere and is strangely accessible, even when the city itself often feels like an endless labyrinth of freeways and concrete.
Anything else you’d like to add?
If A/B Duo are coming to your town…go see them! And pick up their new record!
You can do just that at abduomusic.bandcamp.com/album/variety-show.
Oh boy, this is exciting. The bay area’s Aerocade Music offered us an exclusive, early stream of LA composer/violinist Eric Kenneth Malcolm Clark‘s Ekpyrotic: Layerings IV, from cellist Hannah Addario-Berry‘s record Scordatura, which comes out on May 20.
The liner note for the piece reads:
Clark’s Layerings series calls for the soloist to record the same material multiple times, allowing natural divergences to cause an indeterminate overlapping of musical material. In Ekpyrotic, the cello is prepared with miniature clothespins on the strings, creating bell tones almost like a gamelan in timbre.
Scordatura is available for pre-order now.
About the piece, Spartlan says:
The last episode of My Architect, Nathaniel Kahn’s film tribute to his father, the great architect Louis Kahn, takes place in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and features a brief interview with an elderly local figure, wherein he extols Kahn’s vision in creating the vast complex of buildings that constitute the National Assembly. He argues that Kahn’s work has given transformative hope and a sense of focus and purpose to his nation, otherwise an endless terrain of rice paddies. This piece is about Kahn’s National Assembly Buildings and their unique power.
There’s more about the piece in the video’s description, and on the composer’s website at lewisspratlan.com.
We recently reviewed a killer new record/project/thing from Desert Magic, and their saxophonist Logan Hone has already sent me a new recording from his own band, Similar Fashion. And it rocks! Give it a listen here:
The full album is available from pfMENTUM records, on bandcamp at loganhone.bandcamp.com/album/logan-hones-similar-fashion
Similar Fashion will be on tour up and down the west coast in January. Not all the details are locked yet, but here are cities and what’s available so far.
Jan 21: Bakersfield, CA: Dagny’s
Jan 22: Oakland, CA: Studio Grand w/Weiner Kids
Jan 23: Arcata, CA: The Sanctuary w/Jonathan Kipp
Jan 24: Seattle, WA: Cafe Racer Cry & Roar 6
Jan 25: Portland, OR
Jan 26: Boise, ID
Jan 27: Provo, UT: Writ & Vision w/It Foot It Ears
Jan 28: Ephraim, UT: Snow College, Clinic + Concert
Jan 29: Las Vegas, NV: The Dispensary Lounge
Jan 30: Los Angeles, CA
More info at LoganHone.com
Composer Jason Barabba just posted a video of the premiere of his huge piece Lettere da Triggiano, and it’s great. What’s Next? Ensemble, joined by actor Kalean Ung and singers Elissa Johnson, Anna Schubert, Amy Fogerson, and Sarah Lynch, put on a semi-staged performance directed by Doug Oliphant.
Of the piece, Jason says,
I inherited a small stack of handwritten letters that grandmother had kept until she died. They were from her sister-in-law, written between 1948 and 1951 and are half of a conversation between my grandmother in Los Angeles and my Great Aunt in Triggiano, Italy. The letters cover a period of time when my grandfather was dying and end about a year after his death. They are very personal and heartfelt missives from a woman who was not able to make the trip to visit her brother as he was dying on the other side of the ocean. I felt there was a good piece in there, so I’ve taken Carmela’s letters and broken them up. They are not presented complete, nor in order. I cannot even begin to know how to summarize the narrative. I never met Carmela, but I feel like I’ve gotten to know her through these letters. I cannot overstate how grateful I am to everyone that had a hand in getting this piece to the stage in October. I am in awe of the performance presented in this recording. I feel like a very lucky composer.
Populist records just posted a new record from Andrew Tholl, Corey Fogel, and Devon Hoff, entitled CONDITIONAL TENSION. As populist points out on their site, the record is a great step forward for them, as it’s their first release of entirely improvised music. It’s also their 10th record (congrats!), and they just got a great review and profile by Will Robin on Bandcamp, which you can read at blog.bandcamp.com/2015/11/10/creating-a-wide-platform
The record is available for pre-order now, and comes out on November 20. The track above is my favorite of the two extended improvisations, but the whole thing is just fantastic.
Following last week’s release of Daniel Corral’s Diamond Pulses (awesome review/interview by Alicia Byer here), I’ve been going through the Orenda Records catalog and came across this band of Cal Arts grads called Fell Runner. And I fell in love.
As per their biography, their music began as a study of the application of West African rhythms to western song forms. The resulting music is all over the place in the most coherent way possible, and I think I’m gonna be listening to this one for a while.
As the now LA-based composer Thomas Adès performs alongside Gloria Cheng tonight in a piano duo program at Zipper Hall (details here), I thought this would be a good time to introduce our readers to some of his music. Asyla, completed in 1997, is a good place to start. In addition to being the work that launched him to prominence, its combination of romanticism, quarter-tone piano, and house music seems like a nice fit for what’s going on here in LA. And it’s influenced countless composers, as the New York Times explains here in an article titled “They’re always borrowing his stuff.”
I was catching up on episodes of the All Songs Considered podcast this weekend and was excited to hear this new track from LA musician/composer/performer/rock star/apparent harpsichordist and Cal Arts alum Julia Holter.
It’s from her next album, which is out on September 25 on Domino Records. She’ll be playing shows in LA on October 7 and 8 at the Hollywood Palladium.