Next Thursday is the first performance of my new sextet. (You can find the facebook event here.) We’ll be playing at 8 at the Douglass St Music Collective. Josh Sinton, our gracious host, will be playing at 9:30 with what promises to be an amazing ensemble. And a number of friends from NYC and elsewhere are coming into town for the weekend, so it’ll be a nice reunion for all of us. Come hang out and enjoy warm company and interesting music.
It’s been a real privilege working with this band to get this music together. In three lengthy and grueling rehearsals we’ve managed to nail down an hour of very challenging music. The end of one of the songs features a coda that rapidly alternates between 5:3, 7:3, and 6/8 rhythms. At our last rehearsal this section was described by the band as “fairly straightforward, considering.” I don’t know how I’ve managed to happen upon a group of players who feel like that constitutes straightforward music, but I’m very fortunate.
(As a footnote, our oboist, Stuart Breczinski, got a nice mention in the New York Times last week. How much overlap exists between the Bach/Gluck crowd and the spectral free-improv crowd remains to be seen. Will his “soft-toned, eloquent” playing cut through two distorted electric guitars and an over-caffeinated drummer? You’ll have to attend to find out!)
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I also learned recently that I’ll be presenting a paper at the 2013 conference of the Music Theory Society of New York State, at Stony Brook University. The paper is titled “Sonic Transgression in Recent Extreme Metal,” and it’s a first step towards investigating my larger interest in the cognition of complex music. I’ll be talking about pieces by Vital Remains, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Liturgy in light of psychological research on meter and tempo. The argument in a nutshell is that many of these extreme metal pieces do some degree of cognitive violence to us by forcing us out of our psychophysical comfort zones, and that this is in line with the ideology of the extreme metal community. I also explore the fact that Liturgy’s music does generally fall within our psychophysical preferences as far as meter and tempo are concerned, and talk about what that might mean for their reception (which has been overwhelmingly positive in the mainstream press and alarmingly negative among traditional fans of extreme metal.) Liturgy and Dillinger are two of my favorite musical acts, and it’s been fun to transcribe their music and deal with it in such detail. Hunter Hunt-Hendrix and Greg Fox (now of Zs) have also both been kind enough to talk to me about their experience writing and playing this music.