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Wednesday, March 12 • 10:20pm - 10:50pm
So Percussion

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Josh Quillen - Adam Sliwinski - Jason Treuting - Lawson White Official Bio for amid the noise publicity There was a line, and So Percussion (So means ‘to play” in Japanese) crossed it. They'd never been just another modern performance ensemble anyway. That Amid the Noise might be the glacially luminous headphone trip-out of the season is beside the point. Following two acclaimed albums of rigorous music by modern master Steve Reich and even-more-modern masters David Lang and Evan Ziporyn, as well as ongoing collaborations with hepcat Björk producers Matmos, the 20-something quartet has discovered a bold new voice: their own. Called "astonishing and entrancing" by Billboard, "brilliant" by the New York Times, the discovery is perfectly appropriate. Coming together in the green pastures of New Haven, at Yale's graduate program, So Percussion was created to give fresh voice to what co-founder Jason Treuting calls "funky contemporary music." Devoted to the conceptual dreamscapes of Reich, Iannis Xenakis, John Cage, and others, So established a disciplined work ethic. Pieces were learned whole -- memorized and absorbed -- instead of merely read. In performance, music stands were jettisoned for a stunning live dynamic. A blind call to Bang on a Can founder David Lang yielded a commission. Called "a must-hear" by Billboard, their self-titled debut featured Lang's "the so-called laws of nature." Migrating to the industrial shores of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, they decamped at their own Good Child Studios and began deconstructing their tools. They achieved a fuzzier sound affixing tin foil to vibraphones. They cut planks of wood. Later, an ethernet tambourine was made. A vocabulary was constructed. In 2004, realizing Steve Reich's nine-part "Drumming" as a quartet, they made one small step for music, one radical step for a percussion group: overdubbing -- and to great success. Having explored the past, in the form of Reich's classics, and the present, in the form of Lang and Ziporyn's freshest, it was time for So to start exploring the future. In that vein, Amid the Noise itself began as an after-hours project. Eager to expand their palette, So members Treuting, Adam Sliwinski, and Lawson White began experimenting. Films were watched (mostly documentaries by Treuting's sister, Jenise), and poems were considered. Phrases from Basho, Max Ehrmann, and an anti-war protester the group encountered were excerpted by Treuting and used as structural springboards to idiosyncratic tone explorations. White programmed, stripping away layers, Sliwinski adding them elsewhere. On glockenspiel, toy piano, vibraphones, bowed marimba, melodica, tuned and prepared pipes, metals, and a wayward ethernet port, the trio shaped melodies. Rhythmically rich, the dozen cuts on Amid the Noise chart an inner emotional course, equally soothing and unsettling. White synchronized it to Jenise's haunting street scenes of Manhattan and Tokyo. "If you're sick of the sounds you've got, you go and find more," declares Sliwinski of the group's sonic philosophy. "There's always something to hit or rub or whatever." It is a philosophy they have taken with them to countless educational programs, which have ranged from teaching percussion to adolescents to master workshops with student composers. It is also one that allowed them to find kindred spirits in programming uber-nerds Matmos, who So met through a blind phone call. With Matmos coming at their sounds from a processing side (2001's A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure was famously created entirely with micro-samples of plastic surgery) and So pulling from their broad knowledge of the acoustic world, a unique middle is created. It is a philosophy they will take on the road -- with newest member Josh Quillen -- for many moons to come. So is likely the only outfit that can play at a major concert hall and with indie's hippest producers within 24 hours. With an audience comprised of "both kinds of blue hair... elderly matron here, arty punk there" (as the Boston Globe described it), So Percussion makes a rare and wonderful breed of music that both compels instantly and offers vast rewards for engaged listening. Edgy (at least in the sense that little other music sounds like this) and ancient (in that people have been hitting objects with sticks for many eons), the members of So Percussion are nothing if not themselves, imaginary lines or not.

Wednesday March 12, 2008 10:20pm - 10:50pm
St David's Church 304 E 7th St

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