Malosma is a 35-minute-long work for bass flute, bass clarinet and video co-created by Katie Porter & Christine Tavolacci. Malosma uses both structured divinatory practices and improvisation to facilitate a meditation on the natural closing and creation of chapters, time and place. We want to share this work with all of you on the occasion of our birthdays (April 12 & 14), in celebration of life and the new growth that this season brings.
Over the last 6 months, Christine and I have been meeting over zoom and creating a duo. It grew to include very slow moving video footage from Christine’s time hiking in the Los Angeles forest, and slow moving notes. We share a birthday week and want to share this work with you! We’ll be playing live with the video for about a half hour, then feel free to celebrate/chat with us over on zoom. XO!
CHOROCHRONOS lives in the crevices in between sounds; in the space between an incidental grumble and an actualized statement. But rather than drift toward ambience or sonic wallpaper, the duo of Katie Porter (clarinet and bass clarinet) and Devin Maxwell (percussion and electronics) favor a balanced determinism and provide each sound here with the force of intention—even if such a sound barely rises into audibility. Whether through auditory illusions such as pitch and timbre matching or an expert approach to contrast, Porter and Maxwell take the admittedly strange instrumentation of their duo and the even more obviously strange content of these four compositions and approach a unity full of naturalism and stoicism.
The apex of this synchronicity arrives through Maxwell’s own “Bonneville Park 3,” a piece for clarinet and electronics. A majority of the piece’s 11-minute runtime finds Porter’s clarinet tones in harmony with the sparkling electronics of Maxwell’s synths. Its most stunning moments blend the competing sounds into a vibrant mass, forming a choir of coalescing tones without obvious source or reference point. As the piece drives toward its final minutes, though, Porter’s long tones morph into a cyclical melodic pattern while Maxwell’s swirl of synthesizers grows in intensity. The entrance of a thunderous bass tone grounds the previously airy piece, and “Bonneville Park 3” reaches a moment of climactic reward unlike any other on the album.
The unexpected fervor found in the conclusion of “Bonneville Park 3” points toward Red Desert’s underlying mischievousness—a willingness to subvert expectations. André Cormier’s “Sommeil” begins with a stumbling barrage of percussion sounds and a jester-like clarinet melody, a passage of thuds and flits that stands apart from the whispered nature of the rest of the record. This bombast almost immediately dissolves into steady timpani rolls and low-volume clarinet moans for most of the piece’s runtime, only for the duo to hard cut the drones off with what sounds like an elevator-door chime and close out with an unexpected return to the sonic carnival of its opening.
If these two opening pieces provide a wealth of structural experimentation, their counterparts on CHOROCHRONOS’ second side embrace repetition and austerity. Both Lucie Vitková’s “Choral No. 13” and Michael Pisaro’s “Turning” follow a similar structure: single bursts of sound interspersed between bouts of silence. “Choral No. 13” works with more overt variety, differentiating each sonic stopgap with a grab-bag of warbling percussion sounds and some delightfully eyebrow-raising harmonies. “Turning” burrows further toward an idiosyncratic limit point, stretching out the silent interludes while each instance of feather-light clarinet notes and percussion rustlings speak only through whispered rasps. Without the structural surprises of the preceding tracks, “Choral No. 13” and, especially, “Turning” lay bare the beauty of sound for the sake of the beauty of sound.
If the surface of CHOROCHRONOS presents a record full of placid sounds and an almost self-flagellating embrace of repetition and near-silence, the deeper layers reveal a novel approach to subtlety and musical care that makes minute changes in decibel or pitch feel like exercises in long-distance running. In their performance of these four works, Porter and Maxwell showcase an empathetic approach to the art of the avant-garde duo—never does either musician envelop the other, and never does anyone attempt to wrangle these beguiling, glass-fragile compositions out of their always-disappearing outlines. –Audrey Lockie
Red Desert Ensemble, Chorochronos, Infrequent Seams, CD/DL/LP
Splitting their time between New York Brooklyn and a mountain cabin in Utah, percussionist Devin Maxwell and clarinettist Katie Porter have been honing their finely poised musical partnership for the best part of two decades. They came together as a duo when Michael Pisaro wrote Turning for them in 2002. It is revived here, sparse and tense, a prolonged, palpably gradual and finely balanced rotation around the threshold of audibility. Three other pieces fill out the picture. In Andre Cormier’s Sommeil, trills and chimes are interspersed with muted tones and rumblings. Lucie Vitkova’s Choral No. 13 is luminous and graceful. Maxwell’s own Bonneville Park 3 is a spectral tour de force pitching acoustic instruments against textured electronics. Performances that testify to the deep affinity and meshed horizons that unite and energise Red Desert Ensemble.
CHOROCHRONOS is a collection of four gorgeous experimental works for clarinet, percussion and electronics. Red Desert Ensemble (Katie Porter and Devin Maxwell) lovingly recorded duos they’ve performed for almost two decades in small spaces, for even smaller audiences all over the US (and Canada) by composers André Cormier, Lucie Vítková and Michael Pisaro alongside a huge new spectral work for clarinet and electronics by Maxwell. The result is exceptional, a document of music trapped in ether or volcanic rock, both unearthed stillness and totally jarring, a perfect music-as-art for our time. With cover artwork by Christine Heindl, liner notes by Adam Tinkle, design by Phillip Niemeyer and video art by Svavar Jónatansson and Dev Harlan, the album is released on vinyl, CD and digital download by the label Infrequent Seams. CHOROCHRONOS follows Red Desert Ensemble’s tradition of inviting audiences into the sound world of avant-garde music with practiced interpretations, attentive curation, and insightful performances.
Yesterday we performed Teodora’s duet for clarinet and casios. I was livestreamed in to Mise-En_Place in Brooklyn, my sounds broadcast over the speakers inside the space, along with other clarinet recordings, some from my speakers too, and Teodora performed her part in the space. It took several rehearsals for Teodora and I to coordinate how to work over zoom at the same time as performing with a delayed livestream. But we did it. A cacophony of clarinets and casios, but the actual sound was just a gorgeous bathtub of us. Also I get to sing and play. I love that. All three works on the concert were so beautiful, a duo with Erin Rogers on sax and Rachel Mangold on bass. So happy to be a part of this project, the recording comes out on Love Records in the spring and it’s all supported by a NYFA grant for women. HERE IS THE SHOW- It starts at about 15 minutes in, my piece is first. xo
Acoustic+ | Teodora Stepančić | mise-en place
Date: October 29, 2020Time: 2:30 pm
Duets with Erin Rogers, Rachel Mangold and Katie Porter.
I recorded bass clarinet sounds to this surreal video score by Andy Graydon, and ended up in a quartet with France Jobin (Montreal), Pierre Gerard (Liege) and Klaus Janek (Berlin). It’s a beauty. And there are SEVEN versions, with artists from all over the world, enjoying many of the same things that I do about time, space and music, and reminding me that community is bigger than this weirdness we’re living through.
Various Artists, seven interpretations of a moving image score by Andy Graydon Bandcamp Pre-Order at https://andygraydon.bandcamp.com Begins Friday, October 2nd (a Bandcamp fee-waive day)
A*rray is a new series of music compositions based on a moving image score by Andy Graydon. In response to the isolation and distancing imposed by the pandemic, Graydon began in April, 2020 to invite musicians and artists from around the world to play their own solo interpretations of the score, a four-channel video that forms the basis of his installation A* (2019). Graydon gathered these contributions into four-player ensembles, creating seven new 30-minute works. A central theme of the video score is the productive complexity of voices in conflict, and the necessity of dissonance in making meaningful connections. Each piece explores this terrain in unexpected and exciting ways, resulting in the lively variety across the series.
A*rray is being released on Bandcamp through Graydon’s own Internegative imprint, with a special pre-order starting October 2nd. The release includes all seven compositions, high resolution cover images, and a special download of the A* video score with the original installation soundtrack.
contributing artists: Cecilia Lopez, Ryan Choi, sawako, Jan St Werner, Barbara Held, Luke Martin, France Jobin, Delia Gonzalez, Stephen Vitiello, Pierre Gerard, Katie Porter, Gil Sansón, Kris Limbach, Richard Garet, José Rivera, Klaus Janek, Jonathan Zorn, Eden Girma, Amnon Wolman, Ensemble Musica Nova (Shira Legmann, Maayan Tsadka, Tom Soloveitzik, Yoni Niv), Edwin Lo, Takeshi Nishimoto, David Sani, Jenn Grossman, Wendy Eisenberg
On Thursday Sept 10, 2020 Red Desert Ensemble played a concert at the Summit Community Garden in Park City, Utah, a benefit for the garden’s COVID19 effort to provide fresh food to those in need in our community. We performed solo works by Teodora Stepancic, Daniel Goode, Tim Parkinson, Devin Maxwell and Iannis Xenakis. We also played Having Never Written A Note for Percussion by Jim Tenney with our audience. It was a little cold but very special to share music with people in real life.
Several installations and soundwalks were also placed around the garden, including text scores by Pauline Oliveros, Yoko Ono, Christian Wolff, David Dunn, a soundwalk a la Hildegard Westerkamp and several listening stations facing various vistas, a la Max Neuhaus. I wanted to curate a way to experience experimental music and sound in a safe and open way, an invitation to listen. You can read more about the project here: www.reddesertensemble.org/garden
On May 27th, 2020 (7PM Istanbul/10AM Utah) I’ll be playing live with bassist Sebastian Gramss (Cologne), Jeremy Woodruff (Istanbul/Berlin), cellist Anil Eraslin (Istanbul) and the incredible BC Manjunath (Bangalore) for a zoom livestream through the Bahcesehir University in Istanbul, the first iteration of the International Online Orchestra. Here is the link
On June 6, 2020 (6PM PDT/7PM Utah) I’ll be performing in Daniel Corral’s Sextet for Similar Soundsas part of Culture Hub Re-Fest, a global art & technology community founded by SeoulArts & La MaMa. (POSTPONED)
9/10/2020Red Desert Ensemble at the Summit Community Gardens, a benefit for the garden’s COVID 19 effort. We’ll perform works from the avant-garde outdoors, including multiple percussion with audience participation encouraged! BYO Dinner/Drinks, grab veggies from the garden! TICKETS
RECORDINGS & COLLABORATIONS
I’ll be working with composer Teodora Stepančić to record a new work for clarinet + synth. We were supposed to record together in NYC this summer, but instead we’ll record apart, in special places. This project is supported by a NYFA grant and includes new duos written for Teodora and myself, Lucie Vítková, Rachel Mangold and Erin Rogers. She says it will be a “journey through spaces” which sounds perfect.
I spent some time recording clarinet and bass clarinet parts for composer Brian Harnetty‘s new project based on the writings of the 20th c Cistercian monk and prolific writer from Kentucky, Thomas Merton.
And I recorded around 30 minutes of bass clarinet for Andy Graydon‘s A*Array, a sound and video installation, a collaboration of musicians across far distances, much like the international astronomy project connecting observatories around the world that the piece is based on.
I’m also excited to collaborate far and wide. The projects are just starting and we will see where they go- an ongoing bass clarinet duo with Lucio Capece in Berlin, a Cardew project with cellist Juho Laitinen in Helsinki, zooms with composer Daniel Goode in NYC to learn the rest of his beautiful Clarinet Songs, the beginnings of a collaboration with the sculptor Kelsey Harrison here in Utah, a duo by André Cormier with the London-based soprano and curator Juliet Frazer. Also! Devin Maxwell is writing an OPERA based on Hector running from Achilles in the Illiad, the score is for bass clarinet, string quartet and electronics, with four voices, and it looks like we will start workshopping it virtually this month. So glad for music.