Category Archives: Music

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Composing and Cocktails at the Le Poisson Rouge

There was iphone composing, electronic music coupled with live instruments, and theremins!

Ryan’s been involved in an ensemble called Blindear. They have been having concerts at the Gershwin Hotel on 27th and 5th avenue. The idea behind this ensemble seemed to be to give composers a new avenue to explore New Music, especially with electronics and live performance. Their first performance covered live instruments, electronics, interesting items, such as the theremin, and drum beats from Brazil.

This being said, after the first concert, they have been fixated on this idea of loops. The co-founder, Jacub Ciupinski, created a program that feeds the player bars of music via computer. The idea being that the composer can feed the players music in real time, thus composing on the fly in real time. The composers are asked to create bars of music that the composer will construct together at the concert.

They are still ironing out the details, but this last concert had a really warm reception. I’m impressed and glad to find that it wasn’t a one shot wonder. They played one performance with 2 flutes and 3 string players and did another one with just 8 string players. As I understand it, the composers are constantly making new “loops” to try out. It’s interesting to see an ensemble like this grow… sort of organically, through concept, into sound and diversity of repertoire.

It’s interesting, because, so many things can go wrong with a wireless network. Interference, network droppage, ip problems… I mean I encountered so many of them on a daily basis while working for the Dept. of Ed. It’s a monster of a project…

It’s a fun gig and I wonder how things will spin out from here. If you’re in the area, you should definitely check it out!


Tori Amos came out with a new album today. I pre-ordered a hard copy of the delux version, so I caved and downloaded the leaked digital version early. (That, and the whole album was streamable on myspace officially.) I have to say that the whole thing is a darker, more adult, but I still wish it was a tad bit edgier. It was lackluster.

I love her and all, but the album lacks anything extraordinary. Overall it is a bit sexier and loungier. I like “Strong Black Vine” (where you get a taste of “From the Choirgirl Hotel” She’s Your Cocaine rock), Flavor, and Curtain Call. I feel like Flavor is on the cusp of being something I would love… but it feels too tried. Fire to Your Plain and Police me is also enjoyable, but lacks any distinguishing features that when done right by Tori, is amazing.

None of it excites me, though. Some of the songs listed above have some real potential to be electric during a live performance, but in the album, they seem a bit bland and too cohesive in a droning way.

One thing that baffles me, though, is that in the preliminary reviews, everyone compares her to Kate Bush. That comparison should die in this album… Although the sad thing is that I think the album could be a bit better if it was little Bushier.

Perhaps I will change my tune after listening to it for a while. And don’t get me wrong, you’ll still find me supporting her daughter’s college education fund by going to a few concerts.

For the past two days I have been trying to get into Guggenheim’s Works & Process, John Zorn’s Shir Ha-Shirim. Sunday, I went to the Guggenheim and they refused to seat me, because they were sold out. Fine. However, they were still seating people for comp seats and a whole list of people who hadn’t shown up. I asked that they sell me those seats, they refused. Then someone behind the counter told me that they sold those seats, all ready. Fine.

There were four people that arrived after I did. When I arrived, they were still seating people. However, I stuck around and they started turning people away… people that bought their seats. They were told they were at full capacity. Two ladies there raised a small huff, understandably. The Guggenheim basically sold their tickets twice and made twice as much profit. Of course, I am sure the women will be asking for a refund and giving the box office an earful. Through the 15 minutes we were waiting we saw management tell people they would not be given refunds, and then just told people to call the box office. Are they airlines, or something?

There were 3 people leaving… 3 empty seats and they still didn’t let anyone in. Dude, even Carnegie Hall and NY Phil seats throughout their shows.

The kicker is that when I went on Monday night, they were letting people in way into the set. People were sitting on the steps… And basically these workers were being dicks the night before.

I suspect the choreographer will be hearing from the other two people there the night before… who kept pushing that they were the choreographer’s friends. They were turned away, also.

Anyway. Otherwise the concert was great. The first half of the set consisted of a series of lounge-y jazz music on harp, cello, bass, vibraphone, and percussion.

The vocals on the latter half of the set were haunting and quite lovely. The man doing the narration was slightly gyrating against the microphone. What was that about? He emoted well, but I just couldn’t look at him. That was fine, because I think the focus was on the dancers and I enjoyed watching the vocalists. Ryan was impressed that there was absolutely no vibrato and the tones and pitches were right on. To me, the vocals took the place of instruments, to the point that I had to be reminded that they were coming out of these performers.

The vocals were accompanied by the Khmer Dance Troupe

Yeah, remember that Khmer wedding I was part of? There was a part where the wedding party had to do this little Cambodian dance, which was actually very much like Japanese Bon Odori. Unfortunately I took no footage of it, because I had to dance… and fortunately there is no incriminating evidence anywhere else, except for the couple’s video.

Anyway, the dancing was similar to what I saw before at a Cambodian New Year celebration in Maryland. And actually the vocals have a similarity in tempo and variations (I guess that’s what I would call it?), in that there are some huge tonal differences and jumps that occur in the Cambodian music I have listened to that seem very similar to the vocalists.

I really enjoyed this Trybrid animal he presented. The choreography in this instance was really fitting to the Hebrew (right?) narration. It was an interesting mix that worked together well. The dance, vocals, and narration seemed fragmented in theory and medium, but all expressed a sensual fluidity that worked visually, sonically, and most importantly to create an experience.

Ryan was telling me that a lot of modern music, and specifically we were talking about atonal music, was dedicated to creating an experience than a linear narration. As a girl that loves little tapas treats and dipping my hands into many different pots at once, the trifecta of voice, whispery passionate narration, and slow regal steps of the dancing was an enjoyable environment to be in.