Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Album: Low End String Quartet "Blunt Objects"

A few years ago, I had an idea: what if a string quartet could be re-invented for playing in modern chamber-music venues (i.e. bars and clubs)? Presto: A string quartet that is skewed toward the lower register, by adding a bass and an electric guitar and taking away the 2nd violin and viola. Damn, that oughta rock. So I wrote some music for this lineup - and found performers who were willing to give it a try.

We did a proof-of-concept performance at the now defunct Warehouse Next Door a few years ago. Cameron made cookies-and-cream cupcakes for the occasion. That's what I'm talking about. It seemed worth pursuing further.

I wrote some more music for the group, as did Jodi Beder. We played another show. People seemed to get excited about it. We booked studio time at Inner Ear. The air conditioning broke down so our recording session was a sweaty affair. TJ Lipple, the golden-eared engineer who was running the session, had just come back from Morocco and had a case of what would later be diagnosed as Typhoid Fever. But we got the work done anyway.

The record is out now and we're celebrating with a show this coming Saturday at the ArtDC Gallery [event info] [preview article in Wash. Post Express].

Tracks 1 - 5 are pieces that I wrote for the group. And I mean "wrote," like notes on paper like a real composer and stuff. Well, not entirely. "Metal" is an open-form piece - there are written riffs that the group assembles as we're playing; and "Shut up and listen" is a structured improv piece with some notated music and lots of room for improvising. But the others are honest-to-god composed. Except for the cello solo in the middle of Grinder, that's improvised too.

Track 6, "Mystery Snail" was written by the cellist, Jodi Beder. It's based on a Sarabande from one of the Bach cello suites (she plays the Sarabande straight at the very end... after the wah pedal section).

I love the sound TJ got for us. It sounds kinda like "punk classical." It has a sort-of classical, roomy quality but there's something DIY sounding about it, too. He's really good at that sort of thing. He got the perfect rock / jazz hybrid sound for the DCIC record too.

You can hear the whole thing (and buy a download for only $5) here. Or you can order a physical CD here. Or your favorite record store can order it for you via Dischord Direct.

1 comment:

kristin said...

i have a certain respect for improv musicians. that takes real talent. another article on Low End String Quartet :