Serious Business Remixed (Part III): Bevin Kelley (aka Synopterus, aka Bevin Blectum) vs. Josef Haydn

The third in our lineup of Serious Business remixes is a real brain liquefier, and it comes by way of the one-and-only Bevin Kelley (aka Bevin Blectum)! 

It turns out that "The Joke" is far from a new one for Bevin, and she had this to say about creating the remix:

I remember playing this quartet, one semester when I was a violinist at Oberlin many years ago, and I still love the second movement especially! This remix was made in and out / back and forth between Ableton Live and ProTools softwares. It uses only the source material — the Spektral recording of the second movement. The source was fragmented, layered, effected and processed in various ways, fragmented again, and finally restructured and layered again, and played/recorded live in Live. It flows in a similar trajectory to the untouched Haydn, but renegotiates the experience of time, timbre and layer. It sometimes magnifies the microscopic, or extends a stay in the whirlpool of a sound, or smashes moments together while shifting character. It is computer/electronic music responding to the digital imprint of the acoustic moment. 

 

Serious Business Remixed (Part II): Dominic Johnson vs. David Reminick

Next up in our series of Serious Business remixes features the one-and-only Dominic Johnson. Dom is a fantastically versatile artist, and listeners may remember that our first-ever remix of anything ever was his re-tooling of Marcos Balter's "Chambers" from our debut album.

Now available for (free) download to all of you is his re-tooling of David Reminick's "Killing the Ape" movement from The Ancestral Mousetrap. It's a sexy little lounger that masterfully transforms our bow clicks...and we hope it makes your evening a swinger.

Dominic Johnson (electric violin) and Searchl1te at Harris Theater

Dominic Johnson (electric violin) and Searchl1te at Harris Theater

 

Serious Business Remixed (Part I): Max Tamahori vs. David Reminick

To celebrate Serious Business being on the GRAMMY ballot, we've commissioned some of our favorite electronic artists to remix tracks from the album and let you download them for FREE!

First up is the incredible Max Tamahori, who you may have seen spinning late-night around Chicago. Max chose to reimagine David Reminick's "Bringing a Dead Man Back Into Life" from The Ancestral Mousetrap as an even more sinister, club-ready banger. Listen and download your copy below!

 

 

Thank you for your considerably considerate consideration...

European Travelogue in Photos

On Sunday Nov. 17 we bade farewell to Chicago and phone service with the ritual consumption of food and drink from Tortas Frontera.  Two weeks later, we're back in Chicago and moving on, but still relishing the memories of our first European tour.

Below you can see photos of our stay in Montreux to rehease with Rachel Kolly d'Alba and Christian Chamorel, preparing for our recording sessions on Chausson's Concerto.  Also, you can see our concert day in Lausanne and the Salle Paderewski where we performed, not to mention the amazing hall in La Chaux-de-Fonds where we recorded.  Then, we trekked onward to Aurelien's hometown of Nancy (through the Alps in a terribly small station wagon) to play a concert the day after our recording sessions ended.  No trip to Europe would be complete without giving an introduction to Chicago new music, so we gave the European premiere of Liza White's "zin zin zin zin" alongside Bartok, Britten, and Verdi.  Here's the story in pictures:

 [nggallery id=10]

European Travelogue in Photos

On Sunday Nov. 17 we bade farewell to Chicago and phone service with the ritual consumption of food and drink from Tortas Frontera.  Two weeks later, we're back in Chicago and moving on, but still relishing the memories of our first European tour.

Below you can see photos of our stay in Montreux to rehease with Rachel Kolly d'Alba and Christian Chamorel, preparing for our recording sessions on Chausson's Concerto.  Also, you can see our concert day in Lausanne and the Salle Paderewski where we performed, not to mention the amazing hall in La Chaux-de-Fonds where we recorded.  Then, we trekked onward to Aurelien's hometown of Nancy (through the Alps in a terribly small station wagon) to play a concert the day after our recording sessions ended.  No trip to Europe would be complete without giving an introduction to Chicago new music, so we gave the European premiere of Liza White's "zin zin zin zin" alongside Bartok, Britten, and Verdi.  Here's the story in pictures:

 [nggallery id=10]

Chambers is in the Can

Hark! I bring you tidings of great joy! Spektral Quartet and Parlour Tapes+ have all six pieces on Spektral's debut album on tape!

Our final session.

I'm so excited about this record, and couldn't be prouder to have recorded such challenging, intelligent and expressive music for our first disc.  Here are some things I can tell you:

-Recording Ben Hjertmann's piece on Friday and Eliza Brown's on Saturday was one of the biggest challenges this quartet has ever faced.  Both pieces are incredibly difficult individually and for the ensemble, and in drastically different ways: the wild virtuosity and rapid-fire changes of Ben's piece versus the intricately interwoven web of microtonal harmony, pulsating rhythms and subtle timbres in Eliza's work.

-The record is titled "Chambers", a nod to Marcos Balter's piece on the album, the unique sound world of each piece, and that thing the four of us do every day.

-I am a danger to my instrument...after breaking my good violin during our first collaboration with Julien Labro (that video has me playing on a second-rate loaner after I ripped the top off my fiddle with a bow whip), I've proved once again "why we can't have nice things".  Luckily, I was using my secondary violin to play the guitar-picking sections of Ben Hjertmann's piece in our session on Friday.  Check out the sound of me knocking the bridge off my instrument with a big hit behind the bridge:

Also, things get a little loopy when we're hunkering down in the studio.  Our coping mechanism seems to be extreme wackiness...thanks to Jenna Lyle for taking notes on our silliness during Friday's session:

“And THAT’s why they call him ol’ One Take Armbrust!”-Austin

“What do we want?? Time travel!! When do we want it?? That's irrelevant!!”-Aurelien

“Are there any shorter chairs? I can’t hunch over the way I like with these.” -Austin

“Bar 60 was the best we’ve ever done it that time.”-Russ
“Yeah, seriously. Speed it up, do a little pitch correction in post... It’ll be great.”-Doyle

“Why Guitar Players Have Frets: Part 800”-Austin

“Ya know, it should be more like ‘da-doo-dat-doo-dat--dat’”-Russ

“Well that was definitely tragic.”-Russ

“Ca-Kaww!”-Austin/Aurelien

“There’s the performing phase, and there’s the judging phase. And when you go too long....one takes over...How about 5. Take 5?” -Russ

 

Stylistic Maneuvers

I've never been the kind of musician (or music fan) who feels the need to be exclusive in my tastes.  While it may surprise some of you who are more familiar with me writing about Haas or Carter, I'm just as likely to listen to Ke$ha or Chick Corea's "My Spanish Heart" without the slightest tinge of irony.

If I spend too long playing strictly concert hall music, I get a bit itchy.  I'm certainly listening to other stuff, like my recent obsession from an amazing super-group.

That's why the the beginnings of our collaboration with Julien Labro for an album on Azica Records have brought me musical energy just when I thought I was burnt out from a long concert season.

First of all, Julien sent us a new arrangement of this scorcher a few months back to start work on:

Given the mixed meters and quicksilver solo lines, it's a good thing we've had some time to absorb the tune.

I'll be honest, I'd never heard of any of the artists on this track before Julien sent it our way.  And, it's more of the same with a few other composers and tunes on the record.  That includes the thorny hubbub of Fernando Otero's "De Ahora en Màs" and a couple tunes by the incredibly talented Diego Schissi, whose adventures in nuevo tango have a flavor of Stravinsky.

It's not like I've never listened to Latin jazz before, but diving into the styles and listening with actually playing these different moods and grooves in mind has been an adventure in uncovering some really special musical personalities.

Our first shows with the new material are on Tuesday at the Clark Street location of Uncommon Ground and on the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society the following day.  Look for more shows this fall, and the album later in the concert season!

But, it's not our first time playing together and we'll be bringing back some familiar arrangements from familiar names:

Scrapbook of a Recording Session

This past Tuesday morning, we made the trek down Lakeshore drive to the Performance Hall in the Logan Center at U. Chicago.  Our friends from Parlour Tapes+ were already mostly finished in their setup as we warmed up and got situated.  We came into this session feeling confident about our preparation and eager to get Hans Thomalla's "Albumblatt" on tape.  It may be the piece we've played the most over our first three seasons as a quartet.

Adjusting to the incredibly clear acoustic of the hall took some time, but once we started playing full takes of the piece we began getting in a rhythm.  Once the initial concern about getting it perfect wore away, it came down to playing the piece the way we know how...microphones be damned.

Having Hans' exacting ears there for the session was a boon, helping tweak our dynamics and articulations for the room and the microphones.

As the session wore on and it came down to making sure we were happy with everything, we realized we were better off having a coffee than continuing the session.  We're looking forward to refining the sound of the recording the same way we've tweaked our conception of the piece over the last year.

Introducing Parlour Tapes+

A first foray into any realm of great importance is best made with friends.  So, as we programmed our debut album it was self-evident that we record works by our composing comrades here in Chicago. And when we were approached by our pals Jenna Lyle and Kyle Vegter (who have teamed up with more amazing people in Andrew Tham and Ellen McSweeney) to be part of launching their new record label the choice was clear: an album of Chicago composers on a Chicago label.

We're thrilled to be a part of the birth of the first Chicago label devoted entirely to contemporary art music, Parlour Tapes+.   You can come see the label take its first public steps at "The Guilty Party" on May 16, an evening of music and mystery.  We'll be there, helping to score the action as we unmask the "killer" of Third Coast Percussion's David Skidmore!

And the good news is, this recording is really happening!  We already have Chris Fisher-Lochhead's "Dig Absolutely" in the can, and recently recorded Marcos Balter's "Chambers" in Northwestern University's reverberant and spacious Alice Millar Chapel.

Check it out.

Getting the mics set with our inimitable producer Kyle Vegter:

In case you were wondering, this place is pretty majestic.  We had mics getting room sound up there...

Doyle preaches the good news of the viola to the congregation:

Recording Dig Absolutely

Here we are in the studio, folks.  Our first album is happening: a bevy of new works by Chicago composers.  First stop, Chris Fisher-Lochhead's "Dig Absolutely".  In a couple weeks, we'll be back under the mic for music by Marcos Balter and Hans Thomalla.  More to come...clicking embiggens these pics.

Producer Kyle Vegter.

Getting at the finer points of CFL's difficult-to-perfect double-stop harmonics.