We’re still confined, so my projects have consisted of things one can do online.
I’ve been working with electronic image artist Angie Eng doing music for her a multisensory installation entitled Kosmorganic Art. We hope to have documentation on that in the coming weeks.
Another new project is with choreographer Yves Musard, who is currently based in Marseilles. We’ve been working together virtually on a film featuring Yves and my music.
I’ve also been working on a series of short videos with installation artist Raphaele Shirley, here’s a short video of a piece she mounted that I added music to:
There is discussion of possible performances for the late spring and summer, but of course nothing is firm due to Covid.
I’m looking forward to performing live again. In that spirit, here is an excerpt of a performance I did in Paris, pre-Covid:
Other spring news:
There is a vinyl record in the works with the label SubRosa, it is a duo with me and the dearly recent departed Ghédalia Tazartès, scheduled to be released over the summer. I’ll announce the precise date as the time approaches.
I’m interested in doing sound tracks for films during these Covid times, so if you have a project the would benefit from a soundtrack by us, by all means let us know. I’m currently working with electronic sound, transverse flutes and of course electric guitar. Trumpet is on hold at present due to dental work.
RHYS CHATHAM: THE SUN TOO CLOSE TO THE EARTH / JONATHAN KANE & ZEENA PARKINS: ON, SUZANNE
October 4th & 5th, ISSUE is pleased to present the world premiere of The Sun Too Close to the Earth, an expansive new work by iconoclast composer and multi-instrumentalist Rhys Chatham. Commissioned by ISSUE and presented as a part of the French Institute Alliance Française’s (FIAF) thirteenth annual Crossing the Line Festival, the piece spans Chatham’s aesthetic concerns across thirty years of composing for electric guitar ensembles, as well as the minimalist and free jazz traditions that grew out of NYC’s downtown music scene.
The Sun Too Close to the Earth is a fully notated composition, combined with improvisational elements, written for a nine-person ensemble with electric guitars in special tunings, horns, keyboard, and percussion. The ensemble features many ISSUE friends and luminaries within the Downtown NYC experimental music scene, including Jonathan Kane, Anthony Coleman, Ernie Brooks, and Karen Haglof, as well as Jaimie Branch, Anna Roberts-Gevalt, Sarah Register, Reut Regev, and Jen Baker.
In this piece, Chatham draws from his roots composing for electric guitar ensembles of widely varying forces, incorporating the overtone drenched minimalism of the early 1960s with the relentless elemental fury of the Ramones — the textual intricacies of the classical avant-garde colliding with the visceral punch of punk rock. The Sun Too Close to the Earth combines these influences with Chatham’s more recent experience as a wind player, deploying extended playing techniques inherited from the glory days of the minimalist and free jazz period of New York’s East Village in the early 1970s.
Until now, Rhys has kept the two strains of composition in separate camps. With The Sun Too Close to the Earth, Chatham blends these two bodies of work into one, to arrive at a “post-urban” music that reflects the artist’s concern for the ravages of climate change and the senseless destruction of our planet.
Chatham also performs the North American premiere of his 20-minute solo work Le Possédé for bass flute. The piece continues Chatham’s explorations of the possibilities offered by the early minimalist period of downtown Manhattan. During the early 1970s, Chatham played in La Monte Young’s Theater of Eternal Music, with Tony Conrad in an early version of The Dream Syndicate, and in trio formation with Charlemagne Palestine and Tony Conrad. Chatham draws on these experiences to arrive at a musical vocabulary which is reminiscent of this exciting period in New York, transforming the sound in a way that could only happen in the present decade.
Renowned experimental musicians Zeena Parkins and Jonathan Kane also perform the world premiere of On, Suzanne, dedicated to ISSUE’s founder Suzanne Fiol. Inspired by the poem Some ‘American Sentences’ On Suzanne by the late Holly Anderson, the event marks the first ever collaboration of these two legends of Downtown NYC music.
Harp: Zeena Parkins
Drums: Jonathan Kane
Bass flute: Rhys Chatham
The Sun Too Close to the Earth
Electric guitars: Karen Haglof, Anna Roberts-Gevalt, Sarah Register
Electric bass: Ernie Brooks
Drums: Jonathan Kane
Electric keyboard: Anthony Coleman
Trumpet: Jaimie Branch
Trombones: Jen Baker, Reut Regev
Conductor: Rhys Chatham
Here is Part 1 of the conference I gave in January at Conservatoire Toulon Provence Méditéranée, the largest music conservatory (in terms of number of students) in all of France. The lecture had a packed house! This is the first part of the lecture, which is about 18 minutes in length.
It’s in French, but don’t worry, even if you only took high school French, you will be able to understand it because it is ME speaking French with my “charming” American accent! Here is the description:
New Music, New York Conférence – Rencontre avec Rhys Chatham: La musique dans le “downtown” new yorkais des années 70 et 80. Rhys Chatham est le fondateur – et un temps directeur artistique – du programme musical de The Kitchen à Manhattan, lieu emblématique d’un certain brassage stylistique.
À l’occasion de cette conférence exceptionnelle, il nous parle de la scène musicale new yorkaise des années 70 et 80, du CBGBs à The Kitchen, du Max’s Kansas City à Artist’s Space en passant par The Mudd Club, du point de vue d’un compositeur et performer proche de musiciens tels que John Cage, Lydia Lunch, Laurie Anderson, James Chance ou encore Arto Lindsey.
Every summer, my partner and I move our respective studios, my partner with her brushes and easels, me with my computers, Abbleton Live, Logic, Sibelius and Finale, and we go to the south of France and stay in a hamlet about 30km from Céret.
We had a great summer, which I spent working on a book about my years as a music producer at the Kitchen Center in New York during the seventies. I’ve been posting individual segments of the book on my FaceBook page.
In order to set a context for the issues that downtown composers were working on during the seventies I went all the way back to the birth of the twelve-tone row, tracing its development through serialism and post serialism. then moving on to early minimalism in New York, and finally recounting my adventures in Morton Subotnick’s electronic music studio at New York University, when the studio was on Bleeker Street in Manhattan.
I left things there, and next week I hope to take things up again by writing about the first concerts we did at the Kitchen, when it was on Mercer Street.
After returning to Paris Ghédalia Tazartès and I have been working on a duo set, which we recently performed for the first time at a private and informal concert here in Paris.
I first met Ghédalia in New York, I think the last time I saw him in the flesh was at a concert at CBGBs in the late 70s, so when we first got together to work up a set, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and it was for SURE that HE didn’t know what to expect, as the last time he saw me it was with an electric guitar band at CBGBs!
Happily, our first rehearsal was absolutely magical, it was as if our music were made for each other and as if we had been playing together for years.
Fortunately, Benoît Lesieux was there to record it, here is a link to what he filmed:
On Friday 6. April, Rhys Chatham and Robert Longo perform together with seven other musicians Chathams composition “Guitar Trio” in the context of Robert’s exhibition: PROOF. Make a reservation now! The musicians playing are friends Rhys has known for years, as well as some new ones.
On electric guitars: Rhys Chatham, Robert Longo, Jeff Turek, Martin Richter, Wigand Koch, Lars Zwickies, and Robert Engelbrecht. On the electric bass: Matthais Schönebäumer, and on drums, Olve Strelow.
Hunkering down in Paris for the holidays and copying parts for the next 100 guitar orchestra event, which will be A Crimson Grail at the Sydney Festival in Australia in January, here’s the info on that:
The MADEIRADIG Festival is a unique adventure in extraordinary music. Each December the Portuguese island – celebrated as a ‘paradise island’ and ‘floating garden’ – is transformed into a hotbed of digital art and culture.
This is an avant garde journey through the world of serious music. Program/Line-Up 2017:
Friday, 01.12.2017 | 21:30
• Carl Stone (US)
• The Necks (AU)
+ Aftershow with Frank D’Arpino (DE) | 00:00
Saturday, 02.12.2017 | 21:30
• Ectoplasm Girls (Sweden)
• NaN Collider + Miguel Pedro (Portugal)
+ Aftershow with Shins-K (JP) | 00:00
Sunday, 03.12.2017 | 21:30
• Greg Fox (US)
• Rhys Chatham (France/US)
+ Friends & Family Night | 00:00
Monday, 04.12.2017 | 21:30
• Maja S. K. Ratkje (Norway)
• Laraaji (US)
+ Aftershow with Daniel Meteo & Michael Rosen (DE) | 00:00