This is a project I had started working on with my Joshua Tree visual artist/collaborator Diane Best. She’d been messing around with mountain timelapse stuff and the idea was for something super sparse. I had this recent demo lying around and flew it in to try something different. The way it synched up with the break was erie. It wasn’t the right match, but it is cool.
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Emily Hay, Amy DeNio, Brad Dutz and LM @ Eagle Rock Open Gate Series, Los Angeles Jan 8, 2012. I showed the gang one of my microdecibel Deconstructing Blues series scores just before we went on. No rehearsal!
I hope to finish the series and record this properly with them at some point in the next year.
Tonight is a special show. My first conducted composition for large ensemble. It’s big. It’s beautiful. Piece to Celebrate the Proximity of Pearl Harbor Day and the Death of John Lennon on the only date it can happen – Mon Dec 7 @ The Makeout Room in San Francisco.
Rehearsal last night was very productive. I discovered that conducting is a rather rigorous affair and will continue to cling to the notion that notation software sucks in general (the sprawling score required good old scissors and glue to paste sections together properly). Aided by a stack of cue cards for the maestro to hold up, the musicians were able to get through the piece and it was fantastic to hear it come to life.
It is in four sections and scored for 10 guitars, 3 bass, 2 percussionists and 1 vocalist. It incorporates my favorite things from some of Glenn Branca, Rhys Chatham, and Moe! Staiano’s work.
The guitars are unison tuned with two low E strings, one middle E and three high E strings. Sections one and two make use of specially prepared spent bullet casings and scraping technique across specific strings to achieve the dramatic sound of planes approaching and departing.
Section 1 – The Sun Also Rises
Section 2 – TORA! TORA! TORA!/The Sleeping Giant Awakens
Section 3 – Helter Skelter
Section 4 – The Sun Also Sets
The piece was conceived in New York City in August of this year. After booking a gig on Dec. 7 for large ensemble and having no idea what to present, the date struck me as significant. Pearl Harbor Day followed by Dec. 8, the death of John Lennon – two events that managed to wake people from their collective stupor for a moment. More than anything else this piece is about that, but the analogies are endless.
Members of the Orchestra include:
Suki O’Kane, Pat Spurgeon, Eli Crews, Dave Jess, Geo Kitta, John Shiurba, Nils Erickson, Daryl Shawn, Wayne Grim, David Slusser, Bobby Ray, Brian Good, CD Cummings, Reid Johnston, Dylan Champagne and Katherine Copenhaver.
The show was really great! Good vibe and crowd. We powered thru the piece and received so much positive feedback and encouragement. Thank you, thank you. It was a cool night of music overall – both Ross Hammond’s trio and Michael Heullits’ trio were smokin’!
Video of the first 10 minutes from Ross H (Section one, The Sun Also Rises and part of Section two, Tora! Tora! Tora!):
and a blog mention:
…off to the The Makeout Room for the Snowball Pond Orchestra performing Piece to Celebrate the Proximity of Pearl Harbor Day and the Death of John Lennon, the first conducted composition by kingtone (aka Lucio Menegon). (Some readers my recognize Lucio as the host of the Ivy Room experimental-improv series.) The piece is a a surround sound minimalist-meets-mayhem piece to celebrate the proximity of two events that managed to wake people out of their collective stupor for a moment or two.
The first two sections appeared to focus more on Pearl Harbor and the last two more on John Lennon. The opening section featured the guitars, as described above. Later on, much darker guitar and string sounds were set against snare drums that sounded at once militaristic and like a clip from a rock solo, followed by long sustained guitar unisons and complex chords. The music gradually took on more of a rock feel as the narrative moved from Pearl Harbor to John Lennon, with quotations from Helter Skelter (from the White Album) towards the end.
The Overdub Club is proud to announce the completion of the HD video version of Nightsoil. We have worked long and hard to bring this former performance piece to a place where it can be screened. The premier is slated for Sept 30 at the The Exploratorium in San Francisco.
Nightsoil is a single channel video by filmmakers Thad Povey and Alfonso Alvarez with music by Lucio Menegon, collectively known as The Overdub Club. Derived from a triple projection, live performance piece, Nightsoil utilizes found footage that has been physically reconstituted using hand-processing, tinting, and other hands-on filmic techniques and features a powerful new audio score and soundtrack.
Nightsoil is a layered and evocative display of humanity’s ability to create both beauty and destruction, whose title echoes the archeologist investigating abandoned human latrines. Coming at a dramatic time in America’s history and created in the spirit of this zeitgeist, Nightsoil calls out with an appeal to “think what you’re doing” before choosing violence as a solution to humanity’s problems.
The music for Nightsoil was developed in a series of jam sessions where musicians Lucio Menegon and Mark De Gli Antoni improvised over a series of test reels and live presentations, mixing and matching sounds, manipulating and exploring audio textures – taking ideas from the morphing images and giving ideas back to the film-makers – until a dynamic three section composition coalesced. The move from the live presentation format presented a golden opportunity to re-compose and fully arrange and orchestrate the original score. Along with the musical contributions of John Hanes, Suki O’Kane, Jenya Chernoff, Rebecca Seeman, Jonathan Segel and Laurie Amat, a final soundtrack and score emerged that matches the intensity and emotion of the visuals – at times in syncopation with and at other times cutting against the multiple image presentation.
Prehistoric Horse plays a very intense and dynamic form of improvisational music that sometimes borders on sheer noise but also incorporates the dramatic and absurd. Our sets morphed with the miles logged and the tenor and pacing changed dramatically from the first chaotic show in Albany CA to the final mellow moments in NYC. There were many good shows on our 13 gig cross-country run with Oakland, Seattle, Minneapolis and New York being particular highlights.
Since my last post in Madison, we played Louisville, KY (where I managed to leave the power supply to my laptop – thanks to Mateo for mailing it back), Pittsburgh, Toronto, Baltimore and NYC. The lack of laptop partially explains the drop off in the tour blog, but in truth, the last few shows were difficult, involved much driving and were not necessarily inspired. The NYC show was the exception, so I will wrap up a brief description of it.
The gig was in hipster Williamsburg at a place called Monkeytown, a space that boasts four walls of projected imagery, with musicians in the middle and comfy low-rise couches behind spartan japanese style tables on the perimeter. In response to said surroundings and perhaps inspired by a terrific quartet improvisation featuring cellist Okkyung Lee, we upped our game (New York does that to you) and performed a rather ‘cinematic’ set, quite different from others we have done before. David used a stripped down percussion setup and the overall tone was much less frenetic, with more melody and ‘playing’ from Valerie and I. The audience seemed to appreciate it and despite some of the usual second guessing, this feeling was verified a few days later when a gent stopped me in the street to favorably comment on the performance 🙂
Below are some links to videos, pics and audio. Plans are afoot for more shows/tours in the next year. Enjoy.
Here is a particularly interesting section of improv from Toronto, Canada. A gig with the dubious distinction of having ‘not a soul in attendance.’
more to come…
Suki O’Kane and I have launched yet another new project: Delicate & Destructive. We played at the Sacramento ‘In the Flow’ Jazz festival this past Saturday. 105 degrees in Sacto that day and driving to the afternoon gig in a AC car sans AC, I thought I might melt. The festival featured ‘jazz’ (and the majority of the audience) in a main air conditioned fancy venue and ‘noise/improv’ in a warm, funky record store full of vinyl – quite perfect, really. We went for a completely different feel than any of our previous improvisations and sculpted a sonic build that went from, well, delicate to destructive.
Check out more of Michael Zelner’s pics from the show.
Prehistoric Horse provokes audiences through spasmodic bursts of snare drum (david grollman), guitar (lucio menegon), cello (valerie kuehne) and occassional unprovoked dramatic outburst. A very intense and dynamic form of improvisational music that sometimes borders on sheer noise and incorporates the absurd. A mashup of Bennink/Nakatani/Frith/Frisell/Bach/Britten/Bi-polar disorder punk rock sounds.
“…spasmodic bursts of clatter and skree via cello, drums, and guitar, typically played in ways that would make conventional music teachers shudder in horror.” (Seattle Stranger)
Prehistoric Horse YouTube Channel