natewooley on 09/19/2012 at 10:00AM
Music is a social sport, right? The perfect and classical example of the ego being subsumed in some mystical force of nature to be tapped into, waded in, or some other such water metaphor. The most maniacally individual artists have been known to come together in, depending on how you choose to view it, large multiple pseudo-marriages or micro artistic city-states. The assumption is that all this is only made possible through the socially binding properties of making music.
Is this the only model, though? Is it conceivable that the members of Steely Dan are willing to put up with Donald Fagen because they believein the demi-god of rhythm and pitch? It's most likely that the ubiquitous string section behind Kanye West for every appearance on televisiondidn't show up to play octave whole notes to invoke Kokopelli. These two examples point to a model that is slightly more 'pragmatic'.
Artistic model and economic model may find a middle path, however. As utopian as it sounds in this day and age of "occupy" everything, it may be more possible than ever to create a musical family that is as involved with getting each other's work out to a mass public in interesting and effective ways, as it is in making intensely personal and groundbreaking musical documents.
A good example of this model in action is Shinkoyo Collective, a group of Oberlin Conservatory grads that have, at one time or another, been involved in booking tours, operating venues, and putting out the records of its members, to the mutual benefit of all the groups involved.
Now spread all over the US, the members of Shinkoyo are maintaining a very high level of output as a truly egalitarian collective, something not to be scoffed at. Members include electro-acoustic-radical composers like Mario Diaz de Leon and Doron Sadja, as well as beautifully weird pop groups like Skeletons.
In the fall issue of Sound American, I sat down with three of the New York members of Shinkoyo (Diaz de Leon, Sadja, and Skeletons front manMatt Mehlan) and talked about how the collective started, how it has changed, and how it has maintained its energy as the members dispersed physically and artistically.
Matt Mehlan was kind enough to allow us to stream a track from the upcoming Skeleton$ Big Band album, "Chicago to Elyria", the next album to be released on Shinkoyo's label branch. The track, called "Please Keep Up" is a kaleidoscopic take on freak folk, electro-pop, minimalism, and accretive weirdness.
"Chicago to Elyria" will be available as a special edition LP on the Shinkoyo Collective website in September.