Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Notations 19: Overton and Shahab

Here is the nineteenth installment of Notations! Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday (Tuesday this week again...) we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are Adam Overton and Sepand Shahab. All images are used with permission, and copyright is retained by each piece's respective creator. Click on the images to hear/see a larger view.

inside joke piece by Adam Overton


Adam Overton is an experimental artist based in Los Angeles who works between performance, writing, experimental music, massage, workshops, and event-production. He connects regularly with a variety of artist-peers via several collaborative platforms, including Signify, Sanctify, Believe (with Tanya Rubbak and Claire Cronin, and involving the contributions of over 70 semi-secular artists), The Eternal Telethon, and UploadDownloadPerform.net. He works closely with Guru Rugu as co-director of the experimental meditation center of los angeles and as a ghostwriter for Guru Rugu’s Experimental Meditation Hour on KCHUNG Radio.

More info at plus1plus1plus.org

step filter by Sepand Shahab

Sepand Shahab was born in Tehran, Iran. He is a composer and harpsichordist living in Los Angeles and works with field recordings, chance procedures, and simple structures inspired in part by his experience with early music. Sepand studied composition at the San Francisco State University and the California Institute of the Arts and has been an artist-in-residence at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program and with the US Forest Service. Shahab’s recent work deals in creating simple structures that hold complex objects, relinquishing smaller details to chance procedures and/or performers, and text-based scores. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

REVIEW: Chris Schlarb's Twilight and Ghost Stories, 11/01

On November 1, Chris Schlarb presented Twilight and Ghost Stories at the Velaslavasay Panorama. This piece featured improvisation by a large cast of musicians including Mike Watt, Paul Masvidal, Nedelle Torrisi, Aaron Roche, Steuart Liebig, Philip Glenn, Ted Byrnes, Glenn Bach, Tabor Allen, Austin Wintory, Tom Steck, David Moyer, and Chris Schlarb. The music was broken into two sets, with some musicians playing only one of the two, and some playing both.

Both performances began in total darkness, and Schlarb used a charmingly archaic light board to switch on and off lights that were situated near each individual performer. When a performer's light was on, they played. The process reminded me of an indirect, slow-motion Cobra or conduction. The indirect nature of this communication medium offered interesting possibilities, as did the binary nature of simply playing or not playing. Schlarb was attentive to varying the density of the lit musicians, activating smaller ensembles throughout each set. Each set was bookended by Fahey-esque solo acoustic guitar performances by Schlarb, accompanied by lo-fi field recordings. These gave them the feeling of a cyclical narrative, as if some sort of abstract aural story had been told, before returning us to the world of the Panorama.

Anytime I am at the Velaslavasay, I am warmed by how fully the space lends its charm to whatever performance is happening. On the day between Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos, it was the perfect environment to drink a beer and listen to improvised music in the dark.

You can find to the album of Twilight and Ghost Stories on Bandcamp, along with more of Chris Schlarb's music:

Notations 18: Krieger and Griffin

Here is the eighteenth installment of Notations! Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday (Tuesday this week...) we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are Ulrich Krieger and Sean Griffin. All media is used with permission, and copyright is retained by each piece's respective creator. Click on the images to hear/see a larger view.

from Ancient Krell Music by Ulrich Krieger

Ulrich Krieger is well known as a saxophone player in contemporary composed and free improvised music as well as a composer of chamber music and electronic music. His recent focus lies in the experimental fields and fringes of contemporary Pop culture: somewhere in the limbo between Noise and Heavy Metal, Ambient and Silence. His original compositions go back and forth between Just Intonation, Silent Music, Noise, Instrumental Electronic, often asking for elaborate amplification, and works in the limbo of Rock culture – not accepting stylistic boundaries. He collaborates with: Lou Reed, LaMonte Young, Phill Niblock, Text of Light, Lee Ranaldo, Phill Niblock, John Duncan, Zbigniew Karkowski, Merzbow, Thomas Köner, DJ Olive, Christian Marclay, Kasper T Toeplitz, Antoine Beuger, Radu Malfatti, Mario Bertoncini, Michiko Hirayama, Miriam Marbe, Hans-Joachim Hespos, Ensemble Modern, Berliner Philharmoniker, Soldier String Quartet, zeitkratzer, just to name a few.

More info at ulrich-krieger.de


Rosemary Brown by Sean Griffin

Sean Griffin lives and works in Los Angeles. Encompassing many languages, styles, media and forms, Griffin's unique compositional works rely on interdisciplinary incongruities positioned at the intersection of sound, image, performance and the archive. His works manifest as music, large and small-scale operas, collaborative installations, complex numeric choreographies and historically weighted musical/performance works. His works have been commissioned and presented internationally by venues including Los Angeles' REDCAT, Armand Hammer Museum, and LACMA, June in Buffalo, Berlin's Volksbühne, Secession Vienna, London's Royal Academy and the Tate Modern, Festival d'Avignon, Taipei City Arts Festival, Walker Art Center, Centre Pompidou, and Festival BOM 2010 in Seoul, Korea, and EMPAC. He received an MFA from CalArts and a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. He studied with Mel Powell, Chaya Czernowin and George Lewis.


More info at seangriffin.org

Monday, November 11, 2013

Notations 17: Clark and Kallmyer

Here is the seventeenth installment of Notations! Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are Eric KM Clark and Chris Kallmyer. All media is used with permission, and copyright is retained by each piece's respective creator. Click on the images to hear/see a larger view.


Eric km Clark is an accomplished violinist, composer, and improviser that has performed throughout the world, with the majority of his shows taking place in Los Angeles, Toronto, and New York City. Originally from Victoria, Canada, Mr. Clark first moved to the US in 2004 to study at the California Institute of the Arts. Mr. Clark has collaborated in performance with many of the world's most innovative artists and ensembles, including Han Bennink, Michael Gordon, Guy Maddin, Ensemble Sospeso, and the Silver Orchestra. Mr. Clark also co-founded with composer Michael Winter “The Wulf.”, an experimental concert venue located in downtown LA.

More info at erickmclark.com

From Honfleur + Los Angeles by Chris Kallmyer

Chris Kallmyer is an artist living in San Francisco, CA who works in sound installation, composition, performance, and electronic music. He has presented work at the Walker Art Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the Hammer Museum, the Getty Center, REDCAT, Machine Project, and other spaces in America and Europe. Chris is an artist that works with Machine Project, is a member of wild Up, and earned his MFA in music from the California Institute of the Arts where he studied with Thomas Stevens, Vinny Golia, Wadada Leo Smith, and Aashish Khan. He holds a BA in trumpet performance from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

More info at chriskallmyer.com

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

REVIEW: This Clement World, 10/26


On October 26, I saw Cynthia Hopkins' This Clement World at REDCAT. Her 15-person band (including an 8-person choir) accompanied videos and songs inspired by her 2010 Cape Farwell trip to the arctic. These travelogues were couched between solo performances in which Hopkins shape-shifted into various characters that opined about the modern American's relationship to the natural world.

Hopkins changed into roles such as a disguised space alien, a native American princess, and a visitor from a post-ecological future. Though the topical nature of the piece was compelling, almost all of these adopted personae took an outside, sometimes accusatory stance. They were clearly not part of the problem; that would be the rest of us. One couldn't help but feel like Buber's It, rather than Thou. The alienation that this encouraged lent an air of condescension to the piece, coloring how one might react when the big Woodie Guthrie sing-along broke out. Whether you were willing to buy into that accusatory tone or not determined whether this musical moment was an ecstatic wave of energy or a painful flashback to sunday school. Earnestness is a risky card to play.

Regardless of any internal reactions, the musicians sounded great. Hopkins' arresting voice was bolstered by a mix of local professional musicians and Hopkins' New York musical collaborators. There is an aural richness that can only be produced by a quorum of sounding bodies in the room, and musical director William Daniel Smith effectively harnessed the scale of that ensemble.

These musical forces seemed to exist in support of a city-borne exotification of nature. While this naive perspective may at first be tiresome to those who grew up with trees or snow or ocean all around them, it shouldn't necessarily be invalidated or made suspect. It often takes the curiosity of out-of-town guests to inspire people to fully explore and experience the local beauty they've been gradually desensitized to. I assume that this romanticization of the wild is exactly what Cape Farwell is trying to harvest in the artists they invite on their trips around the world. Instead of directly hammering at public opinion, they opt to influence the work of artists whose creative output (hopefully) affects the collective unconscious. That sounds like a noble mission to me.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Notations 16: Klopfleisch and Lerew

Here is the sixteenth installment of Notations! Inspired by Cage's 1969 bookNotations is a collection of graphic scores, hand drawn music calligraphy, computer code, compositional sketches, text scores, and other innovative forms of musical notation.

Every Monday we'll showcase notation by two different composers, primarily focusing on those local to Los Angeles. This week's composers are James Klopfleisch and Todd Lerew. All images used with permission, and copyright is retained by each image's respective creator. Click on the images to see a larger view.

The Virgin Joke by James Klopfleisch

James Klopfleisch is an experimental composer/performer currently living in Los Angeles. His work lies on the fault line between music + performance/event, realizing itself somewhere between the framing of sound in time and the overlapping of musical context with the structures of colloquial observation habits. He has written for such ensembles/events as:trio kobayashi, thingNY, and The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space.

More info at jamesklopfleisch.com

Celestial Mechanics by Todd Lerew

Todd Lerew is a composer and instrument inventor, currently pursuing an MFA in Experimental Sound Composition at CalArts. His work deals with the physical properties of sound and the nature of perception, exploring the use of sound as a plastic medium, and revisiting our understanding of what sound is and how it operates.

More info at soundcloud.com/todd-lerew