Interview: Dan Deacon on the importance (or lack thereof) of formal music education

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Dan Deacon: AmericaDan Deacon: America (Domino, 8/27/12)


Dan Deacon: “Lots”

In a police lineup of today’s most unique young composers, Dan Deacon would be easy to spot: big, red hipster glasses and a big, red half-moon beard. But despite the “charming doofus” look, Deacon’s blend of synthesizers, vocal effects, and acoustic percussion is some of the smartest electronic music around, and he owes its complexity at least in part to his time studying composition at the Conservatory of Music at SUNY Purchase. Here he discusses what his education meant to him, the enormity of student debt, and forcing musicians to study math.

Hive mind: Ex-Battles looper Tyondai Braxton does the Guggenheim

Tyondai BraxtonTyondai Braxton is not one to let the grass grow under his feet. The former Battles loop guru / singer has worked with Philip Glass, performed his 2009 record Central Market with orchestras worldwide, and has written commission pieces for artists including Kronos Quartet and Bang on a Can All-Stars.

Now Braxton is taking over the Guggenheim. His new piece, Hive, which is part art installation / part music performance, will have its world premiere on March 21 in New York.

Morrow vs. Hajduch

Morrow vs. Hajduch: Kronos Quartet, Kimmo Pohjonen & Samuli Kosminen’s Uniko

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

Kronos Quartet, Kimmo Pohjonen & Samuli Kosminen: UnikoKronos Quartet, Kimmo Pohjonen & Samuli Kosminen: Uniko (Ondine, 2/1/11)

Morrow: In 2004, the unparalleled Kronos Quartet premiered a new commission of material written by Finnish accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen and sampler / electronic percussionist Samuli Kosminen.  Though it only was performed on a handful of occasions, it proved so resonant that the six performers finally recorded the seven-movement suite, which was released last month by independent classical label Ondine.

Kronos has always attained high marks for its diversity of projects.  Uniko, first and foremost, remains a contemporary chamber piece, but it’s most set apart by the electrified and effected sounds of Pohjonen’s accordion and the soft laptop beats of Kosminen.

Pohjonen also adds wordless vocals that at times resemble throat singing.  It’s another interesting element, but the movements’ structures are the real key to Uniko‘s success — whether building into a stirring Balkan folk melody in “I. Utu” or stacking pizzicato and staccato passages over buzzing percussive samples in “III. Sarma.”

Huun Huur Tu

World in Stereo: Huun Huur Tu’s Ancestors Call

Each week, World in Stereo examines classic and modern world music while striving for a greater appreciation of other cultures.

Huun Huur Tu: Ancestors CallHuun Huur Tu: Ancestors Call (World Village, 10/12/2010)

Huun Huur Tu: “Chyraa-Khoor (Yellow Pacer)”
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Obtaining music from a tiny, remote place like the Republic of Tuva is similar to possessing some sort of mysterious artifact.  For Huun Huur Tu’s latest offering, Ancestors Call, the sentiment holds true as the four folk traditionalists have reintroduced to the world an art form from one of the least-known regions in Siberia.  Collecting the group’s most-admired songs, the quartet has redefined the music that it pioneered more than 15 years ago, reworking these original pieces with a 20th Century approach to composition and rhythm.

Kronos Quartet to play encore of JG Thirlwell’s Eremikophobia in NYC

Featured in the upcoming ALARM 38: Invisible, Australian experimental composer JG Thirlwell recently commissioned his second piece for the prolific chamber ensemble Kronos Quartet.

Kronos Quartet debuted the 18-minute multi-movement piece, named Eremikophobia (a fear of sand or deserts), at Carnegie Hall in March as part of its Perspectives Series. Now, the group will perform it again on October 8 and 9 2010 at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge.

They will also be playing pieces by Michael Gordon, Clint Mansell and Dan Visconti.

J.G. Thirlwell: Cinematic Mad Science

After releasing music under names such as Foetus, Manorexia, and Steroid Maximus, composer/producer J.G. Thirlwell only recently has released under his own name — while maintaining his distinctive genre-mashing concoctions.

Weekly Music News Roundup

Amon Tobin makes up half of a new project called Two Fingers; Witch goes on tour with Earthless; Dan Deacon posts a preview of his new album; Converge and Supermachiner each has a new album for ’09; Kronos Quartet is giving away 50 pairs of tickets for its performance in France this month.

Read about these and 11 more news bits in our weekly roundup.