srijeda, 5. lipnja 2013.

Daniel Wohl - Corps Exquis (2013)

Akustičko-elektronička glitch-klasika s nadrealno-azijskim snovoskopom.

Brooklyn-based electroacoustic composer/performer Daniel Wohl, praised as one of his generation’s “imaginative and skillful creators” (The New York Times), will release his debut album Corps ExquisJune 25 on New Amsterdam RecordsWohl’s music is performed by acclaimed new music quintet TRANSIT on the disc, and features guest performances by Aaron RocheJulia Holter and So Percussion. Wohl and TRANSIT will celebrate the album with a full-length multimedia performance on June 4 presented by Ear Heart Music at NYC’s Roulette, which will feature video pieces inspired by each track and created by some of today’s most accomplished visual artists.
Acclaimed as one of the young artists “shaping our contemporary music scene and defining what it means to be a composer in the 21st century” (NPR) and heralded for his ability to “blur the line between electronic and acoustic instrumentation and seemingly melt both elements into a greater organic whole” (WNYC), Paris-born Wohl creates a remarkable hybrid of music that is part-mechanical and part-organic on the aptly titled Corps Exquis — a French term that translates in English as “Exquisite Body.” Instead of exploring the gap between his classical composition background and his collaborations within the ever-evolving electronic music scene (recently with Laurel Halo and Julia Holter at the Ecstatic Music Festival), Wohl strives to close it.
The album’s striking electronic elements are derived directly from Wohl’s processing of the virtuosic ensemble’s acoustic instruments (piano, violin, cello, clarinet and percussion). On the track “Ouverture”, Wohl processes the resonance from a bell hit and extends it to form the underlying electronic texture; on “Limbs”, the original acoustic piano plays in perfect unison with an electrified and transformed version of itself. The result is an utterly dynamic and emotionally-charged work in which the acoustic and electronic sounds seamlessly intertwine to the point of becoming one.
On the album’s opener, “Neighborhood”, an isolated-feeling soundscape pulses with electronic and acoustic percussion, at times swollen with lush strings and technicolor euphoria with help from So Percussion. Cello and distorted organs vibrate in unison on “323″ as jangly percussion, found sounds, and vocals (Aaron Roche) bound, and on “Plus ou Moins”, gentle piano is met with twists and turns of countermelody. Easy, poignant vocals (Julia Holter) blend with a melancholic strings, percussion, piano and bass clarinet on “Corpus”, bringing the album to a wistful close. -

Listening to Daniel Wohl's debut album Corps Exquis, I find myself repeatedly hearing it as an exploration of Dionysian and Apollonian forces, or more specifically as a struggle between the two enacted in musical form. In Greek mythology, Dionysus is associated with wildness and intoxication, and in essence involves the releasing of one's anarchic spirit, whereas Apollo is the level-headed counterpoint who symbolizes order and control (parallels to Freud's Id and Superego obviously can be drawn). On much of the fifty-minute recording, the Paris-born and Brooklyn-based composer's music bursts with Dionysian energy in a way that threatens to dismantle the Apollonian order at the music's core.
Of course, it's not simply Wohl's music that exudes Dionysian force; credit for that must also go to TRANSIT, the new music quintet (cellist Evelyn Farny, violinist Andie Springer, clarinetist Sara Budde, pianist David Friend, percussionist Joe Bergen) that brings the album's nine settings to life (Aaron Roche, Julia Holter, and So Percussion also contribute vocals and percussion to selected tracks). Wohl recasts the ensemble's sound by electronically processing its acoustic instruments, resulting in a hybrid that is literally electro-acoustic in nature.
The album's pulsating opener “Neighborhood” finds So Percussion and Aaron Roche adding to its percussive sound-world and in so doing weaving into the vibrant track textures reminiscent of the kind heard in Chinese opera; also boosting the material's euphoric swirl are TRANSIT's strings and Wohl's organ playing. Exotic sonorities likewise inflame “323,” whose percussive and string elements roar like some celebratory fireball, while “Cantus” remains steady throughout its opening minutes before a Dionysian implosion scatters the instruments in all directions. A volcanic rumble also persists throughout “Insext” in a way that makes it seem ready to devour the other elements at any moment. A hint of jazz seeps into “Plus ou Moins” by way of Budde's free-form bass clarinet runs, even if Friend's hyperactive piano patterns return the music to classical terra firma by giving it a Louis Andriessen-like kick.
Also effective is the album's trajectory, as it moves through multiple robust pieces before eventually arriving at comparative calm at the end. “Fluctuations” receives its unusual timbral character from the presence of three melodicas (it's noticeably percussion-free as well), while the album's most moving piece is the wistful closer, “Corpus,” whose undulating strings, vibraphones, and vocals (by Holter) give the piece the feel of a battle hymn played to commemorate the dead.
The title, incidentally, is a French term that translates as “Exquisite Body” and also references the parlor game “Exquisite Corpse” that the Surrealists developed in 1920s Paris, whereby each player is asked to complete a section of an artwork, having only seen a small part of the previous player's contribution. Consequently, a participant only sees the total piece after all of the individual sections are finished. Even here one witnesses evidence of the Dionysian sensibility, specifically in the openness to randomness and chance—tendencies that go against the orderly world of the Apollonian. It's not stretching things too far to see Wohl's Corps Exquis as not just an electronic-acoustic fusion but a marriage of the Dionysian and Apollonian, too. (One final note: the album review was written before reading Wohl's own wonderful account of the album's pieces, which can be read here, so as not to be influenced by the composer's own comments.) -
Composer Daniel Wohl, whom you are probably familiar with from pieces covered on this blog, had a few minutes to talk about his CD debut Corps Exquis and the release party for it on June 4th at 8 PM, presented by Ear Heart Music at Brooklyn’s Roulette.
The show will feature a full-length multimedia performance of Corps Exquisby acclaimed new music quintet TRANSIT and Wohl on electronics as well as video pieces inspired by each track that were created by some of today’s most accomplished visual artists: Antoine CatalaAlexis GambisSatan’s Pearl HorsesAndrew Steinmetz & Teddy SternBrina Thurston, andYui Kugimiya.
Wohl’s music is performed by TRANSIT on the disc as well (out June 25th on New Amsterdam Records, more info here), which also features guest performances by Aaron RocheJulia Holter and Sō Percussion.
The concert will also feature a set by Nadia Sirota, who will perform selections from her critically-acclaimed recent solo album, Baroque (also on New Amsterdam Records). Missy Mazzoli will join Sirota for a rendition of Mazzoli’s composition “Tooth and Nail”. This performance marks the first time since the release of Baroque that these two will share a stage.
CM: Please talk about the new album, which I am thoroughly enjoying at the moment.
Daniel W: For the past several years, I’ve been working on bringing electronics and acoustic instruments together in a way that makes sense to me. It sounds like an obvious statement for a composer to make, but I love interesting sounds – and I don’t want to limit myself to just those produced by acoustic instruments. That said I also love the organic quality and warmth of instruments, and the immediacy of live performance, and I think that there is a way to bring computer generated sounds into that same world. Most of the electronic sounds on the album are produced by processing acoustic instruments – percussion, cello, violin etc…in order to compliment and distort their natural timbres.
CM: It sounds like this is a perfect set of music for Transit. Can you talk about working with them and the other guests on the recording?
Daniel W: I’ve been writing for Transit for a few years now. Recently I’ve been writing alot for other groups, so it’s always fun to collaborate with people who know you and have played your music over the years. As far as the guest artists on the record, Aaron Roche and I are good friends, and he’s a terrific musician and singer, so it was fun to get a chance to get some of his vocals on “323″. Around when I was starting to mix the album I was also beginning a collaborative project with Julia Holter for the Ecstatic Music Festival. I love her voice, and I thought it would work well for “Corpus”, the last track on the album. I asked her to send me some recordings of her singing the main melody, and then I cut it up and reset it around the original string parts.
CM: Would you say New Music as a genre is evolving each day? I think that this recording is an example of that–Your music is so fluid in nature!
Daniel W: I think that New Music as a genre is in perpetual motion. It’s a genre that’s truly open and allows for anything to occur. New Music audiences have seen a lot over the years – and nothing can really shock them- which for a composer is extremely freeing. What I think is great today though is that there is no misguided sense that this music is evolving in a linear way – that there is a progression towards a “greater” music. To me it seems that composers and performers are exploring various aspects of the genre without any hierarchal approach.
CM: What can you tell us about the multimedia collaboration at the CD release show, and what is that like to see as a composer?
Daniel W: Initially, before Corps Exquis was an album, it was a multimedia project commissioned by the American Composers Forum. New York is full of video artists, and I was always surprised that our worlds had so much in common and yet our scenes seemed largely oblivious to one another. I wanted to start a project in which I could collaborate with visual artists and see how their individual aesthectics and visions would interact with the music. We decided we would build a multimedia monster – each video is very abstractly based on a part of the body–and piece by piece we built this hour long exquisite corpse project out of their disparate aesthetics.
CM: I really enjoy listening to the pieces you wrote for some of our artists in New York like “One Piece” for Two Sense and “St. Arc” for Mariel Roberts. Do you like to hear if there are changes as these works are played by different performers?
Daniel W: Definitely! I’ve found that performers emphasize various aspects of a piece. Some will bring out a melodic aspect that I wasn’t even aware was there, and another will make the same part gritty. It’s always fun to have another person bring their voice to something you wrote. -


for string quartet and electronics
Mvt 2 – Postal

 for piano and electronics

+ou- by Daniel Wohl





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