avant-garde Archive

A Few Moments with Hans-Joachim Roedelius

German composer Hans-Joachim Roedelius is a synthesizer pioneer, and a leading light of ambient music. Yet acoustic piano is his instrument of choice, and he has little use for the term “ambient.” Roedelius made a rare North American appearance at the Mothlight on March 18 before heading to Knoxville for this year’s Big Ears Festival.

Sxip Shirey’s Avant Groove

Note: An edited version of this feature appeared previously in Brooklyn Paper. — bk Described as an “electro-acoustic” artist, Brooklyn-based Sxip Shirey is tough to pin down musically. Read about him most places and you’re likely to come away thinking his music is cerebral, experimental and more than a little avant-garde. Actually listen to the

Project/Object: Frank Zappa Fantasy Camp

“I started Project/Object around 1989 or ’90,” says guitarist André Cholmondeley, leader of the popular Frank Zappa tribute group. “I thought, ‘Yeah, we’ll do this for fun. We’ll do it once a year on Frank’s birthday.’ But I never had the concept that it would be a group involving musicians who had played in Frank

Best Music of 2016: Reissue/archival Releases

I love new music, but I’m also attuned to keeping up with the latest in reissues and archival releases. Sometimes those feature some of my favorite artists; other times they turn me on to music of the past that I’ve never even heard. In 2016 I’ve been able to select my Top Ten reissue and/or

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 9 of 10

Gary Ritchie – Poptimistic Style: powerpop Melodic, good-natured powerpop is the order of the day on Ritchie’s new album. Musical touchstones include the obvious ones (Beatles, Raspberries, Romantics) and some perhaps less obvious ones (he reminds me a good bit of Donnie Iris). There’s always room on my shelf for some quirk-free rock ‘n’ roll,

Album Review: John Cage Meets Sun Ra

A musical summit between avant-garde legends John Cage and Sun Ra is the kind of thing that – had it not actually taken place – history might have had to invent. While the idioms within which each of these giants worked were quite different from one another, both men shared a commitment to pushing the

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2016, Part 4

Five more quick ones. All these albums bear further investigation. Wild Man Fischer – An Evening with Wild Man Fischer Conventional wisdom holds that while Gail Zappa was alive, she prevented reissues of many albums originally released on Frank’s Bizarre/Straight labels. Whether that’s true or not, Gail’s gone now and we finally have a legit

Asheville Electro Music Festival: High Technology, Human Scale

In his influential 1982 book Megatrends, author John Naisbitt observed that “whenever new technology is introduced into society, there must be a counterbalancing human response, or the technology is rejected.” The very human and innovative nature of 21st century synthesizer-based music is a real-world example of Naisbitt’s observations in action. A local group of musicians

Roomful of Teeth: Putting Music Where Their Mouths Are

“It’s all about the voice,” says Brad Wells, founder of Grammy Award-winning Roomful of Teeth, a nine-person modern classical vocal ensemble dedicated to “min[ing] the expressive potential of the human voice.” Through use of a wide array of supremely challenging and/or obscure vocal techniques, the group creates a sound like nothing else. “Pretty much all

Rehabilitating Herbie, Part 2

Continued from Part One… “In the ‘60s, Herbie Mann wanted to appeal to younger audiences,” observes Cary Ginell, author of several books including The Evolution of Mann: Herbie Mann and the Flute in Jazz. “And the way to do that was through rock ’n’ roll. He always enjoyed challenging his audiences and thumbing his nose