Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Recording: Eldritch Priest

Artist: Eldritch Priest

Song: The Brown Study1 [excerpt]

Recorded at Array Space, April 16, 2015.

Eldritch Priest - The Brown Study [excerpt]

Called upon to give a lecture on his Boring Formless Nonsense: Experimental Music and The Aesthetics of Failure, scholar/composer Eldritch Priest seemed to be eager to say as little as possible (given that the 2013 book is now "old material" and has since been supplanted by new lines of inquiry) and mostly commented on the book's form in relation to its content before moving things along to the evening's musical portion.

But given that "The Brown Study" has a duration of somewhere around two hours, that was probably a wise move. A cavalcade of melody, the piece (for open ensemble2) moves along without harmony or counterpoint, the musicians choosing for themselves when to drop in or out. And rather than trying to be a full-on, immersive experience, the piece is meant to function either as foreground or background music, with Priest making sure to reassure the crowd it would be fine to get up and wander, or chat a little during the performance. Given that the piece was written in the same period as Boring Formless Nonsense, one assumes it is meant as a sort of reflection of those themes, embodying them musically while attempting to perform a little bit of dialectical ju-jitsu to come out the other side having fought them to at least a draw.

1 I have no notion whether or not this piece's title is riffing on the urban myth of the "brown note", but given that immediately before the performance Priest chose to read a footnote from his book that referenced it does not seem outside the range of possibility.

2 For this performance, the ensemble was: David Schotzko (vibes), Marc Couroux (synth), John Sherlock (keys), Anna Höstman (keys), Paul Newman (tenor sax), Bea Labikova (alto sax), Cory Latkovich (cello), Branko Džinovic (accordion), Nicole Rampersaud (trumpet), Heather Seeger (trombone), Eldritch Priest (guitar).

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