Friday, June 15, 2012

New York's Spectrum Presents Surround Sound from Starkland

New York's new Spectrum venue, a technology-intensive site for innovative music and multimedia, has invited me to present a Starkland evening there on Monday June 18. Naturally my first thought was: Surround Sound. Fortunately I knew that Spectrum's overlord, the energetic Glenn Cornett, was a surround sound enthusiast.

The concert will focus on electroacoustic surround sound music I commissioned for two DVDs. (Starkland has likely commissioned more surround sound music for DVD than any other label in the world.)

The audience will hear a tidal wave of hyperdense bells, a trumpet reverberating for 7 seconds in a huge underground water tank, a spaced-out Ethel Quartet, West African balafons, a 14-foot long Quadrachord, a ghostly wailing wall, a weird madrigal, and 15,000 African parrots.

Commissioned composers include: Paul Dolden, Paul Dresher, Ellen Fullman, Phil Kline, Lukas Ligeti, Ingram Marshall, Merzbow, Meredith Monk, Bruce Odland, Pauline Oliveros, Maggi Payne, Carl Stone, and Pamela Z.

The concert will open with selections from Starkland's Immersion DVD-Audio, recognized by sources such as Pro Sound News and Billboard as the first such recording in history. Sound & Vision wrote:

"Not only a fascinating array of musical innovation but a persuasive exploration of the possibilities of surround sound... The care that went into this disc is carried through to the stylish onscreen graphics [and] the excellent printed program notes."

The second half of the concert will play most/all of Phil Kline's Around the World in a Daze DVD, a major 65-minute work commissioned by Tom as a followup to Immersion. (Another first-of-its-kind recording.) Phil's imaginative, rich use of surround sound space has dazzled many:

The New Yorker: "A special-project disk in which Kline created, out of extravagant electronic means... an audio-visual feast that balances hipster zen with the seriousness of Bach and Wagner."

Stereophile: "This adventurous music... ranges widely from ambient recordings that are surprisingly musical, to complex constructions that emerge as lyrical."

New York Magazine: "A set of sensational etudes."

Sequenza21: "Imaginary vistas that envelope, even overwhelm... Our always adventuresome friends at Starkland have outdone themselves this time."

An Extras DVD in the Daze release features a lengthy interview with Phil by John Schaefer. Time permitting, some of these sections may be shown.

The concert will feature a high quality surround playback system, installed by techmaster Lawrence de Martin.

Read more here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wired Profiles Tod Dockstader

Wired has begun a series of articles about electronic music legends with a profile of Tod Dockstader. Writer Geeta Dayal landed a rare interview with the elderly Dockstader, which includes some anecdotes new to me, such as how the master edited steel wire recordings.

The article mentions his "impressive" electronic music recordings include 2 Starkland CDs, Apocalypse and Quatermass. Dayal notes the "fascinatingly rich, complex" music "still sounds new and relevant today," and how "Dockstader's work over the past six decades continues to be met with new waves of interest. (A documentary about Dockstader's life, by filmmaker Justin H. Brierley, is currently in the works.)

The always on-top-of-it Steve Smith comments:
"Awesome: The amazing Geeta Dayal will be writing regularly about electronic-music legends for Wired, starting with a profile of Tod Dockstader - whose Quatermass, available on CD from Tom Steenland's vital Starkland label, was among the first pieces of serious electronic music I ever heard."
Hopefully the article will bring some new fans to Dockstader's powerful music.