The Now Hear Ensemble presented composer and bassist Federico Llach’s Perishable Music as a part of ArtNight Pasadena on Friday, March 9, performing for all four hours of the late night reverie. Billing itself as an installation rather than a performance, the quintet of clarinet, saxophone, viola, bass, and percussion took up residence in the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) to explore issues of impermanence in music.
Six stations were distributed throughout the museum space, which the majority of the ensemble rotated through over the course of the evening. Performers shredded their pages as they were completed in a growing heap on the floor with no bin to catch the detritus: another sculpture in the making and a nod to the fleeting nature of music. A street-level installation projected images unto graffitied walls in the parking structure, rotating from footage of the performers playing to reciting text with changes spurred on by the spectator’s shredding of the score.
The music was well designed to stand alone and work in this alternate mode of presentation. Certain sections sounded interchangeable even with idiomatic lines: the ghost of a bowed vibraphone from Jordan Curcuruto, warm clarinet trills by Amanda Kritzberg, and Jonathan Morgan’s glissandi that skittered across the viola. The material was well planned despite no conductor and little communication amongst the players as dyads traded corners of the room, seemingly coordinated yet hard to discern the truth of the score. Far from being frustrating, the effect was quite liberating. Floating colors of sound and atonal melodies cleverly resisted standard harmonic progressions, allowing the music to sidestep resolutions and feel complete on its own as the hours passed.
Being in the main space for so long encouraged an amorphous fourth wall. Performers became art sculptures and docents as they interacted with the crowd. Museum-goers stood close to capture pictures and video. When the ensemble took staggered breaks their stands and instruments remained, creating silent works like found objects amongst the paintings. The nature of the work shone through, however, as the musicians steadily created, destroyed, and resumed their practice. Perishable Music lived up to its name but the experience was one to remember.
On April 1 Jonathan Morgan is premiering a new work of yours, [[[clouded]]]. What can you tell us about the piece?
[[[clouded]]] for electro-acoustic viola and live video is 1 of 14 works in an electro- acoustic chamber works series called [[[nexus]]]. This chain of works started in 2013 and stems from three joined ideas.
ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French ordre, from Latin ordo, ordin- ‘row, series, rank.’
ORIGIN late 15th cent. (denoting a gaping void or chasm, later formless primordial matter): via French and Latin from Greek khaos ‘vast chasm, void
ORIGIN Middle English (in the sense ‘unoccupied’): from a dialect variant of Old French vuide; related to Latin vacare ‘vacate’; the verb partly a shortening of avoid, reinforced by Old French voider.
chasm |ˈkaz m|
a deep fissure in the earth, rock, or another surface.
• a profound difference between people, viewpoints, feelings, etc.: the chasm between rich and poor.
chasmic |ˈkazmik| adjective( rare)
ORIGIN late 16th cent. (denoting an opening up of the sea or land, as in an earthquake): from Latin chasma, from Greek khasma ‘gaping hollow.’
I’m familiar with your music for instruments and electronics, but not so much with what you do with visuals. Could you discuss your approach, and how the audio and visual work with each other in your view?
In my sound/visual works i am interested in embracing an indeterminate (glitch) graphic/design element. In the case of the series [[[nexus]]], all of the visuals are representations of the harmonic waves happening in real-time. Everything from the speed of the rotations to the changing of parameters is mapped to the behavior of harmonic space and time. To take it a step further, i have started projecting the waves onto the performer/s to create a sense of ‘digital’ or ‘VR’ type of experience that if done correctly turns your shit projector into the most advanced projection mapping effect available.
I’ve seen you list this piece, in various places, as being by Josh Carro or by your band/artist name, [[[personablack]]]. I’ve seen records out by both. Is there a distinction? Do you write a piece and then decide who it gets released by? Or does deciding that in advance influence your writing?
That’s a fair question, in 2012/13 i created the moniker [[[personablack]]] literally meaning ‘black sound’ because i had over 20 albums under josh carro and was simply ready for something new and anonymous like. Everything made from 2013 is by [[[personablack]]]. As far as the writing goes, my influences are always coming from sound and or design.
This isn’t the first time you’ve worked with Jonathan. What’s your working relationship like? Is there a lot of back and forth?
Jonathan is exceptional and skilled, he has been nothing but open and interested in doing something new. When we first met at the Now Hear Ensemble premiere of my work
I typically don’t have back and forth communication because it can tend to make the work/writing contrived and boring.
What else do you have coming up?
Right now, i am working on 5 separate project albums with Blood Oath (U. Krieger, josh carro) Ehnahre, [[[personablack]]]6, VHS release of [[[personablack]]] PERVERSION and can’t talk about the last one, all of which will be coming out from late summer 2017 to end of 2018.
A new work for electro-acoustic piano commissioned by Vicki Ray which should be premiered in the end of spring.
Seattlemix for Bf clarinet, cello, piano – April 5th @ FSU
falling into the blackness – April 15th @ UNT
420 Fest – April 20th @ TBA
In the summer my postcard works will be performed by NMCE partly for the Tenney Symposium and partly for chamber concerts throughout the year.
As always a lot of random underground shows, most of which are listed on any of my sites:
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to thank my family and friends for their endless support and patience. Also, thank you for the opportunity to discuss my work with you and your readers.
Please come to the concert Saturday, April 1 at 8 PM – 10 PM Bird Studio, Occidental College
Tickets for vla. are available at synchromymusic.org/vla