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andrewcsmith on 02/28/2011 at 09:30AM

Ten Thousand Hours: Elliott Sharp

In the run-up to ISSUE's first benefit this coming Friday, we're featuring podcasts of music and interviews with composer and guitarist Elliott Sharp (whose 60th birthday party is happening at 110 Livingston in Brooklyn on March 4).

Elliott Sharp's output spans a whole bunch of genres of current experimental music, and so one podcast just didn't seem quite enough. Luckily, James Ilgenfritz's series Ten Thousand Hours takes a close look at Elliott's improvisational output, on what it means to be an improviser and still associate with "classical" genres, or to be an musician using amplification, sampling, and electronics and still associate with the jazz (or even classical) worlds. Sharp doesn't seem to think too much of the distinction, but he and James dig deeper; they talk about his teenage years reading Xenakis and Cage, his days releasing string quartets on the punk label SST, the challenges of being a freelance composer, and his ongoing hope for the open-mindedness of today's younger musicians and music enthusiasts. Check out James's podcast below, and we'll be featuring a number of these interviews with creative improvisors throughout March and onward.


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Northern-Spy_Records on 12/20/2010 at 05:18PM

Spy LIVE Music Series Presents: Loren Connors/Margarida Garcia, American Sphinx, Ancient Ocean + Guests!

Poster was designed by Sara K. Mills

Live at Zebulon in Brooklyn. December 29th, 2010, 9PM. Free!  RSVP on Facebook

Northern Spy Records Presents: Loren Connors/Margarida Garcia American Sphinx + Tom Carter Ancient Ocean + Daniel Carter

Free Show starts at 9

Ancient Ocean is the brainchild of acid-folk turned ambient/drone artist John Bohannon from Brooklyn, NY. Building from silent humming tones, guitar melodies and delicate tonal drones envelope into lush soundscapes. Moods are similar to Stars of the Lid and various solo works of Kawabata Makoto, but carry their own majestic quality. John Bohannon is also the curator of Electric Temple Records. His debut recording “I” is out now on Expo 70’s Sonic Meditations label. He will be joined by special guest Daniel Carter.

American Sphinx is one of many projects by New Thing Productions founder Michael Hentz. This Syracuse/Ithaca duo features Jarek Miller on drums along with Michael on guitar, loops and flute. Their music combines elements of free jazz, psychedelic noise, and raga drones. They will be joined by special guest Tom Carter on guitar. Tom Carter is a guitar player best known for his work with acclaimed psych-drone iconoclasts Charalambides. Since 2000, however, he has become increasingly active as not only a solo artist but as a collaborator. He has performed with improvising musicians as diverse as Thurston Moore, Jandek, Tetuzi Akiyama, Matt Valentine, and many others, as well as being a key member in groups like Badgerlore (with Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance), Friday Group, Mudsuckers (with Robert Horton and the Yellow Swans), and Zaika (with Marcia Bassett of Double Leopards and Hototogisu).

Guitarist Loren Connors was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1949. Best known as a composer and improviser, Connors has issued over 50 guitar records on his own imprints (Daggett, St. Joan, Black Label) since the late 1970s and over two dozen on other labels across the globe. He has recorded under the names Guitar Roberts, Loren Mattei, Loren MazzaCane Connors and other variations. Connors' singular adpation of the blues is a distinct personal vision combining the Delta bottleneck sound and the ancestral blues voice (appearing as distortion, baying hounds or multi-tracked guitar), with hauntingly unexpected sounds. Outside of Connors' three decades of solo work, he has collaborated with Suzanne Langille, Jim O'Rourke, Darin Gray, Alan Licht, Christina Carter, Keiji Haino, San Agustin, Jandek and many others, as well as leading the group Haunted House. Loren will be joined with Margarida Garcia on stage.

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andrewcsmith on 05/08/2010 at 11:00AM

Things change when part of a century

"Roar and Spit" by Molly Thompson. Full version is available on the Pretty Panicks site.

Between 1965 and 1971, the composer James Tenney wrote a series of pieces later collected as “Postal Pieces,” in which he wrote the entire composition on the back of a postcard and mailed it. Many of these were later published in Peter Garland’s journal Soundings, and have since been performed as independent pieces as well as recorded and released on CD by everyone from the classical ensemble The Barton Workshop to Sonic Youth.

Some time in the early twenty-first century, the poet Sara Wintz founded the Pretty Panicks Press with the purpose of documenting, in reduced form, the compositional ideas of rock music. Partly about the compositional process of rock musicians, and partly an homage to Garland and Tenney, these postcards tie the twentieth century into the ambiguous zone that many classical/alternative/rock/hyphenated musicians today find themselves in. The recordings of rock preserve the sound of the songs, and the sound of the musicians, but these extreme reductions preserve the idea.

The electric guitar quartet Dither, typifying this nebulous twenty-first century, brings massive chops with an egalitarian sense of purpose to every piece of music. For this concert, they took up Molly Thompson’s postcard piece “Roar and Spit,” containing the statement, “you could basically use any instruments as long as the accordion and voice remained intact and it would be different every time.” Check out their recording below, along with Sara Wintz’s reading of part of her long poem “Twentieth Century” (from which I copped this post title).

There’s more music available on the album page as well, including Lisa R. Coons’s “Entropion” and quartet member Josh Lopes’s “Pantagruel.” Both of these tracks will be available on their debut studio album on Henceforth Records, celebrated by an album release party at the Invisible Dog Art Center in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, on Saturday, June 12.

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