Peter Margasak, Reader staff writer
Ensemble Pamplemousse, Raanna Jedaku Hearing this New York composers’ collective perform its own works this summer brought its experimental aesthetic to life for me—in its music, the absurd dances with the sublime, and playfulness collides with rigor. The seven pieces on this 2011 double CD have greater resonance now that I’ve seen Pamplemousse’s charisma in the flesh.
Mia Doi Todd, Floresta Los Angeles art-folk singer Mia Doi Todd has demonstrated a love of Brazilian pop on recent records, and for the gorgeous new Floresta she went all the way, traveling to São Paulo and recording ten lesser-known songs by the likes of Joyce Moreno, Caetano Veloso, and Milton Nascimento. Backed by an acoustic quartet that features two percussionists from Rob Mazurek’s Sao Paulo Underground (Mauricio Takara and Rogerio Martins), she moves purposefully through a series of sophisticated ballads, her exquisitely clear voice and precise Portuguese phrasing carving out a distinctive space free of genre exercise.
Bob Ostertag, Plays the Serge: 1978-1983 Electronic musician Bob Ostertag has done well-known work in sampling and open-source music (as well as in gay activism), but this album collects noisy improvisations for Serge synthesizer—an early modular designed by Serge Tcherepnin that the curious and obsessive could build from a kit. Ostertag plays solo or collaborates with fellow improvisers (saxophonist Ned Rothenberg, violinist Jim Katzin, guitarist Fred Frith), and his intuitive performances on the unwieldy instrument still sound dangerous today—I can’t imagine how it would’ve felt to stumble on this in the late 70s.
Peter is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Doug Perkins, percussionist
Joey Baron Joey Baron’s drumming is a constant inspiration and obsession for me. Joey makes a traditional four-piece drum kit sing with infinite melodic and timbral possibilities. He is so tasty! Do yourself a favor and find some of his solo playing online. Even though I rarely play the drum kit these days, I still aspire to bring a little bit of Baron with me whenever I perform.
Filligar, “New Local” The folks in Filligar were born and raised in Chicago, and I’ve come to know and love them very much. “New Local,” a song from their 2013 record Hexagon, has slowly and steadily crept into my mind to take up permanent residence. It’s the kind of rock tune that gets you fired up and makes you want to go out and do something with your life! I crank it when I’m alone, and I also find it makes for very satisfying dance-party music with my seven-year-old son, Jacob.
Musikfabrik’s production of Harry Partch’s Delusion of the Fury I’m obsessed with attending a performance of Delusion of the Fury staged by German new-music ensemble Musikfabrik. They took three years to fastidiously re-create all of Harry Partch’s fragile one-of-a-kind instruments and worked with director Heiner Goebbels to create an otherworldly staged production built around Partch’s music. The clips of this I’ve seen online have set my mind reeling. Musikfabrik has expended years of creative energy to highlight this important and little-known work. I can’t wait to see it live!
Doug is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Tim Munro, flutist, Eighth Blackbird
Erin Gee, Mouthpieces A friend introduced me to Mouthpieces, Erin Gee’s 2014 collection of weird, laugh-out-loud musical exercises in oral fixation. From a mess of immaculate whispers, sung notes, lip pops, and tongue smacks, Gee creates the complete language of a very curious but imaginary alien being. I’m irresistibly drawn to what happens to the human voice at its extremes, so I did a little geeky glee dance when I first heard these tiny masterpieces (the teaser on Vimeo is a great introduction).
Trevor Wishart God knows how I’d missed him till now, but Trevor Wishart, who looks like a geezer you’d find in a Yorkshire pub, has produced some of the most interesting sound art of the past 40 years. He splices together human, animal, and natural sounds to tell bizarre and whimsical tales that are beautifully composed and totally compelling. I listen to each new piece with the eager anticipation of an explorer, not sure where the journey will lead but confident it’ll be a fascinating ride.
Patricia Kopatchinskaja As a self-hating classical-music obsessive, I’m always on the lookout for practitioners burning the rule book. Patricia Kopatchinskaja, a fiery, no-holds-barred Moldavian violinist, has consummate technique, but tosses it to the wind in order to expose 100 percent of the music’s raw nerve endings. On a recent release she rips shreds off work by Béla Bartók and György Ligeti, and on YouTube you can watch her tear into some rude Beethoven or Jorge Sanchez-Chiong’s astonishing minute-long Crin. Kopatchinskaja is a bloody special musician, rarely seen on these shores.