COLUMNS

  • Sarah Hennies

    Sarah Hennies is an independent composer and performer of experimental music based in Ithaca, NY, and a recipient of the 2019 foundation for contemporary arts grants to artists award. Her new album, Reservoir 1: Preservation, is out now on Black Truffle Records.

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    DANIEL ROMANO, FINALLY FREE (New West)

    The absurdly prolific chameleonic songwriter—and self-proclaimed “gardener of the landfill”—returns with his ninth album in as many years. Romano recorded Finally Free after a long stint of listening to the Incredible String Band. Check out the breathtaking opening track, “Empty Husk.”

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    PANCRACE,

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  • Feeling Good

    I DON'T KNOW WHETHER THERE IS ANY HOPE FOR OUR FUTURE, but if there is, it might be in experiences like the apartment concerts that composer/performer Jerome Ellis recently hosted in his 240-square-foot abode, in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Clinton Hill. 

    I became aware of Ellis through his work with the writer and musician James Harrison Monaco. The two collaborate as “James and Jerome” in lecture-performances that effortlessly combine esoteric history, ecstatic storytelling, virtuosic music, art, theory, theater, and improvisation. (Their new show, The Conversationalists, begins a run at the

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  • Audience of One

    THE MAJOR LABEL SOLO MUSIC CAREER OF PETER IVERS, a figure defined in the popular imagination less by his personal achievements than by his proximities to stardom, has largely been eclipsed by his participation in two prototypical documents of the West Coast underground-gone-chic. The first is his song “In Heaven,” penned in 1974 for then American Film Institute student David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1977) and lip-synched in the film by a disfigured-cheeked Laurel Near; the second, his role as the host of New Wave Theatre, a short-lived cable-access variety show centered around live performances from

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  • Fourth-Best Wins

    “WE ARE FOURTH-BEST note-for-close KISS tribute band from Volga region”: This is how the members of KISK introduce their act as they take to the stage, faces slathered in the original lineup’s familiar white paint with black Kabuki-like touches. “Demon,” “Starchild,” “Spaceman,” and “Catman”—all are present and accounted for. It was back in the early 1970s in New York City that Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley dreamt up these instantly recognizable, cartoonish avatars as the delivery vehicles for their ultra-catchy stadium rock. In this reprisal by the team of Tony

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  • Standard Deviation

    HOW WOULD YOU SING, if you wanted to sing? Would you want to sound alluring, get the kids to swooning? Patty Waters, at the age of seventy-three, has her own answers to these questions, and few of them are immediately apparent. Dubbed “Priestess of the Avant-Garde” by JazzTimes, Waters grew up in Iowa, then moved, while in her teens, to San Francisco and eventually to New York, all to pursue her singing career. She now lives in California, as she has for decades.

    Waters is best known for two albums released on ESP-Disk in 1966—Sings, a studio album, and College Tour, a compilation of live

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  • Another Blue World

    THE LATEST INSTALLMENT IN FRKWYS, RVNG Intl’s series of musical collaborations between different generations, serenitatem pairs Spencer Doran and Ryan Carlile of Portland’s Visible Cloaks with two key figures of Japan’s late-century ambient movement, Satsuki Shibano and Yoshio Ojima. Following Doran’s curation of Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980–1990, out last February from Light in the Attic, serenitatem is not only a seamless collaboration between these two closely related duos but also a continued exploration of the varied influences that informed kankyō

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  • Open Secrets

    I FIND IT USEFUL to think of Félicia Atkinson’s music—soaked through as it is with traces of places she has been and imagined—as a series of landscapes. This is an approach that’s more or less in line with how one might listen to most ambient music, which is what Atkinson’s music sort of is. While it’s not difficult to be absorbed, transported by the elegant melodic terrain the French artist-composer-poet constructs from a mix of analog and computer-generated sounds (piano, Wurlitzer, a digital gamelan), the trail through these spaces can be elusive. Should we let Atkinson’s voice, an interjection

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  • Dub Daze

    “A FACT OF ANY SUCCESSFUL POP RECORD,” Brian Eno argued in Artforum’s summer issue in 1986, “is that its sound is more of a characteristic than its melody or chord structure or anything else.” The advent of recording technology and synthesizers had by that time already exponentially broadened composers’ sonic palettes, and musical interest was no longer merely in melody, serialization, or polyphony, but in “constantly dealing with new textures.” Over the last three decades, composer, visual artist, and turntablist extraordinaire Marina Rosenfeld has built up a library of dubplates—those rare,

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  • Miracle Maker

    THE LAST TIME I saw FKA twigs was almost exactly five years ago, also as part of the Red Bull Music Festival. That was Congregata, the elaborate, sinuous show she put together to support her debut, LP1. Congregata was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen, of any kind. The artist spent the next few years mostly away from the public eye before returning with Magdalene. When the performance finally began (almost an hour late), a prerecorded intro played as twigs appeared alone in front of the curtain and started wordlessly tap-dancing. It was unexpected and hypnotic. Then the curtains parted

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  • Stream Logic

    ONCE OR TWICE A YEAR, if we are lucky, the corporations that stockpile and sell data generated by our digital habits share a glimpse of it with us. For Spotify, this happens in December. “You listened to 3,436 different songs on Spotify this year,” ran the Swedish streaming company’s automatically personalized email to me (and roughly two-hundred million other users)—“but which will be your #1?” I clicked through, certain that Carl Stone’s 1986 “Shing Kee” was top of my list.

    Carl Stone has been cutting music into very small pieces for a very long time. His oeuvre constitutes a powerful investigation

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  • Story of O)))

    EARLIER THIS YEAR, the French composer and artist Éliane Radigue published an essay called “Time Is of No Importance” in a collection called Spectres. In it, she writes: “Like plants, immobile but always growing, my music is never stable. It is ever changing. But the changes are so slight that they are almost imperceptible, and only become apparent after the fact.” The music of SUNN O))) lives in a similar balance, alive and immobile, exceptionally loud but not cruel.

    For their show at Brooklyn Steel on April 25, the core duo of guitarists Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson were joined by Tim

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  • Master Blaster

    WHEN APHEX TWIN played Brooklyn’s Avant Gardner earlier this month, it was his first New York appearance in at least twenty-two years. From day one, Richard D. James has used live appearances as DJing opportunities, focusing heavily on the ragey, detailed tracks he and his cohort favor. But these tracks are, and have always been, a fairly narrow tranche cut from his larger body of work. Don’t flip out if you miss his recent shows and are a lifelong fan of Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (1992)—that show can happen any time, in your house.

    The sound was clear and not too loud. The big ass, windy

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