The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2020

All Issues
MAR 2020 Issue

March Listings

March 5: Stern, Dr Evilletown, Equine, and Ophelia Drowning at Home Sweet Home. Stern is the namesake of vocalist and multi-instrumental wizard Chuck Stern. A gloomy and doomy electronics-heavy avant-goth beast, Stern falls into boundary-crossing outsider metal. Released in January, Sunder Hawk is Stern’s seventh effort and its his most dystopian and ghostly journey yet, bursting with brain-frying intricacies and sonically heavy textures and patterns. Dr Evilletown, Equine, and Ophelia Drowning round out this adventurous bill.

March 6: Tim Berne’s Snakeoil at Ibeam. Alto saxophone colossus Tim Berne is a deep thinker whose labyrinthine explorations occupy their own universe. The prolific Berne has led tons of groups, but Snakeoil is, arguably, his most forward-looking. After a string of masterpieces for the famed ECM label, Berne and Snakeoil (guitarist Marc Ducret, pianist Matt Mitchell, clarinetist Oscar Noriega, and drummer Ches Smith) have taken their electrifying and densely layered compositional and improvisational probings to the Zurich-based Intakt label for the brand new The Fantastic Mrs. 10.

March 8–25: Experimental Intermedia anniversaries at Experimental Intermedia. There are multiple anniversaries at Phill Niblock’s home for avant-garde media arts: 47th year of performances, 52nd year of EI’s foundin, and the 52nd anniversary of Niblock’s loft space. The improvising duo We Q (Dafna Naphtali and Edith Lettner) perform the first night, and following evenings cover music and video events. Notable highlights include a drone duo concert woth John King playin viola and David Watson playing Great Highland Bagpipes and Scottish smallpipes (March 11), computer musician Carl Stone with saxophonist Ultich Krieger (March 13), and the March 22 Screen Compositions 16 night; video with live music.

March 8: Women’s Raga Massive: Legacies at National Sawdust. Cross-cultural artist ensemble Brooklyn Raga Massive has been a leader in pushing the musical envelope with melding of Indian classical, jazz, and minimalism. BRM has put its unique spin on pieces by John Coltrane and Terry Riley. That spirit extends to its offshoot, Women’s Raga Massive,with the mission to “create a platform for minority artists to engage in primarily musical conversations that are referential to Indian Classical Music and what it means to be a female artist in contemporary America.” Tonight, WRM presents an evening of poetry, narrative, and sound, fittingly on International Women’s Day.

March 10: Jazz from Hell: Titan To Tachyons, KILTER, and ir at Nublu 151. In an evening dubbed “Jazz from Hell,” three bands that are blurring the lines of jazz, metal, prog, and classical composition will deliver an onslaught of dizzily complex riffage. Titan To Tachyons, a new group featuring guitar shredder Sally Gates (formerly of Orbweaver and Gigan), bassist Matt Hollenberg (Cleric, Shardik), and drummer Kenny Grohowski (Secret Chiefs 3), traverse angular territory with crushing and meticulous authority—their Nefarious Industries debut is expected later this year. Tonight is also a celebration of the release of Axiom by the devastatingly heavy Kilter. ir (the tech-metal project of Krallice guitarist Mick Barr and multi-instrumentalist Erik Malave) headline. “The jazz from hell” theme continues later in the month at The Stone when Hollenberg sets up shop for a residency from March 24 through March 28.

March 11: Jeff Parker & The New Breed Album Release Celebration at (le) poisson rouge. L.A.-via-Chicago guitarist Jeff Parker first made an indelible mark on the post-rock scene with his six-string handiwork in Tortoise. Now, Parker has deftly navigated the fringes of jazz, soul, and hip-hop with his elastic group, The New Breed. Parker put it all on the map with 2016’s The New Breed (International Anthem) and he’s taken it further into the chilled-out otherworld on the new Suite for Max Brown.

March 13: Lydia Lunch Retrovirus, Art Gray Noizz Quintet, and Dead Tenants at Sixty Sixth Congress. For nearly a decade, Lydia Lunch—the pioneering no wave godhead, guitar terrorizing mutant, and punk rock original—has inflicted glorious pain and dread fronting Retrovirus. Lunch and her trusty slimeball crew of guitarist Weasel Walter (The Flying Luttenbachers), bassist Tim Dahl (Child Abuse), and drummer Bob Bert (Jon Spencer and the Hitmakers), are back for a local appearance stockpiled with classics from Lunch’s seminal output. With Art Gray Noizz Quintet and Dead Tenants.

March 14: Horse Lords at Union Pool. They’re back—Horse Lords manages rare feat of playing rock that is both truly avant-garde and that has a popular following. Along with a new album, The Common Task, comes further exploration of microtonal tunings and alorithmic compostional techniques, with the same raucous danceability.

March 14: Human Impact Record Release Show with Norman Westberg and Conduit at Saint Vitus. Human Impact is a one-of-a-kind noise-rock supergroup. Featuring Chris Spencer (Unsane), Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop) and Phil Puleo and Chris Pravdica (both of Swans), Human Impact’s self-titled debut (via Ipecac) is a sinister and gnarly blitz of electronics-damaged post-punk and dirty slide-blues splattered with vintage downtown grime–just what you’d expect from these New York City greats.

March 15: William Hooker: TOUCH: Soul and Service at Roulette. For nearly five decades, drummer, composer, and poet William Hooker has been at the forefront of the creative music scene. A ubiquitous presence at sorely-missed venues like the original Knitting Factory, The Cooler, and Tonic, Hooker was one of the first to blaze a trail where jazz, rock, and noise met, collaborating with the likes of Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo. But that’s just one area of Hooker’s protean oeuvre. Fresh off last year’s wildly inventive Symphonie of Flowers (ORG Music), this drums powerhouse and creative omnivore is once again bringing his multidisciplinary mastery to Roulette. The third in a series of large-scale projects performed at the downtown Brooklyn venue (2016’s EVIDENCE: The Baldwin Suite and ’18’s The Great Migration were the first two), this sprawling new work for music, poetry, spoken word, dance, and film—directed by Hooker—is a sequence of four events with original compositions for duet and trio, and the performance marks the premiere of a new film created by Hooker and filmmaker Phill Niblock, accompanied by a live score performed by Hooker.

March 15: Astroturf Noise Record Release Show with Sarah Bernstein & Kid Millions and Juanma Trujillo Quartet at Nublu Classic. The rollicking and ecstatic Americana-flavored punk-jazz weirdness of Astroturf Noise is straight from the back-porch and out of this world. The trio of Sam Day Harmet (mandolin/effects), Sana Nagano (violin/effects), and Zach Swanson (bass) twang and romp with abandon on their eponymous debut released on 577 Records imprint. With percussionist Billy Martin and violinist Sarah Bernstein, Astroturf Noise improbably blend free-improvisation, roots music, bluegrass, and folk into something entirely original and wild.

March 15: A Night of Fearless Guitar at The Windjammer with Loren Connors & Suzanne Langille, Dora Bleu, Alan Licht, and Ava Mendoza. Visionary Loren Connors never ceases to amaze with his mend-bending guitarscapes that draw from blues, psychedelia, and jazz. Connors’ long list of collaborators includes Thurston Moore, Jandek, and Keiji Haino, just to name a few, but his most valuable partner in avant explorations is vocalist and lyricist Suzanne Langille. Tonight, Connors and Langille join forces withe the guitar-centric bill of Dora Bleu, Alan Licht, and Ava Mendoza.

March 20: Fay Victor Chamber Trio (with Marika Hughes and Darius Jones) at Joe’s Pub. For years, singing wonder Fay Victor has been an mainstay of New York City’s avant-garde jazz scene, an otherworldly improvising vocalist, composer, and lyricist who has singularly altered the jazz singers’ landscape. Victor’s last two albums as leader are testaments to her magic: Wet Robots (ESP-Disk’) by SoundNoiseFunk, and now Barn Songs (Northern Spy). This evening, Victor, alongside kindred spirits, cellist Marika Hughes and alto saxophonist Darius Jones, celebrate the sublime, spine-tingling, and soulful new album.

March 22: Psalm Zero and Kayo Dot at Mercury Lounge. With Psalm Zero, composer, guitarist, and vocalist Charlie Looker has been on a classification-defying mission in his heady deconstruction of art-metal with synth-pop-centric melodies. On the just-released Sparta, Looker has, arguably, reached the pinnacle of his outré metal craft. Leading an intrepid group featuring Keith Abrams (Kayo Dot) on drums and synth and Ron Varod (Kayo Dot, Zvi) on bass, Looker’s riff-heavy assault of metal, industrial, and post-punk is brutal and catchy at the same time. Fittingly, likeminded metal outsiders Kayo Dot open.

March 24: Sarah Davachi and Nadia Khan at Public Records. Gowanus venue Public Records has fast become a primo destination for experimental-leaning soundscapes and this stellar lineup fits fits its vision. Canadian composer Sarah Davachi has built a stellar catalog of hypnotic and unsettling minimalist dronescapes in just a short time. With shapeshifting tones beamed from a stash of instruments including a Mellotron, Hammond organ, cello, viola, piano, voice, and vintage analog synthesizers, Davachi’s piano-based atmospheric meditations found on 2019’s Pale Bloom (W. 25TH) promises to be a revelation inside Public Records. With ambient music artist Nadia Khan.

March 24: Xylouris White and Joshua Abrams Natural Information Society at The Bell House. Xylouris White—the brainchild of Cretan lute player and singer George Xylouris and Brooklyn-via-Australia drummer Jim White of The Dirty Three—are virtuosic tunesmiths of a singular old world music where ethnic flavors from myriad corners of the globe intersect. On 2019’s The Sisypheans (Drag City), Xylouris White take their cues from the Greek myth of Sisyphus in threading African, Eastern, Greek, Indian and Middle Eastern twang, loose-limbed rhythms, and cryptic chants—theirs is an ancient fire music. Don’t miss Chicago’s Joshua Abrams Natural Information Society whose dizzying and exhilarating pulsations and cosmic grooves move body, mind, and spirit.

March 26: The Necks at (le) poisson rouge. There may be no better improvising trio than Australia’s The Necks. Chris Abrahams (piano), Lloyd Swanton (bass), and Tony Buck (drums/percussion) have been creating sprawling trance-jazz landscapes for the last three decades but their recent output on Northern Spy Records is on a whole new level of hypnotic. The clanging and clattering ecstasy of their new epic, titled Three, is a hallucinatory trip into unexplored regions only The Necks dwell in.

March 26: Quartet121 at the Crypt of the Church of the Intercession. Georg Friedrich Haas’ Third String Quartet enjoyed something of a vogue a few years ago, mainly because it performed in complete darkness. Mastered by JACK Quartet,it has now moved into the hands of a brand new generation of string quartets. In a program titled Light to Dark, the young Quartet121 will play Threadsuns by Ha-Yang Kim and then plunge the evocative crypt into blackness.

March 26–28: Anthony Braxton Theater Improvisations at The Flea Theater. June 4 marks the 75th birthday of avant-garde legend Anthony Braxton, and Experiments in Opera have heeded the call of celebrating the milestone. The Brooklyn-based composer collective, whose focus is on re-writing the story of opera, presents the world premiere of Anthony Braxton Theater Impr ovisations, a three-night operatic realization of the rarely-heard Compositions 279–283 for improvisational actor and improvising musicians. The controversial workhas never been performed live until this run and will feature director/performer Rob Reese, as well as a different set of musical improvisors for each night including, Nate Wooley (trumpet), Jessica Pavone (strings), Ingrid Laubrock (saxophones), Kamala Sankaram (vocals), and Elizabeth Saunders (vocals). This production is part of the Braxton75 festivities in 2020 in collaboration with the Tri-Centric Foundation, which supports the continued evolution of the music of Anthony Braxton.

March 27: Dave Sewelson Quartet at Nublu Classic. Since the mid–1970s, baritone saxophone titan Dave Sewelson has been a pillar of downtown New York City’s creative music scene. Best known as a longtime member of William Parker’s Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, Microscopic Septet cofounder, and currently of Middle Blue, Sewelson is now heeding the spotlight call as leader of his own quartet. On the just-released, all-improvised epic More Music for a Free World (Mahakala Music), Sewelson is in blistering, blissed-out, and melodic mode in leading his all-star band made of Parker, trombonist Steve Swell, and drummer Marvin Bugalu Smith. This is the gloriously honking sound of downtown New York-flavored firebreathing. Tonight, Sewelson and company celebrate the release of the album.

March 27: Ben Holmes & Naked Lore at Barbès. Wild-eyed trumpeter and composer Ben Holmes has long been a Barbès cornerstone so it’s fitting that he’ll be previewing tunes from his forthcoming record (due April 24 via Chant Records) in its cozy backroom. Holmes and Naked Lore (featuring guitarist Brad Shepik and percussionist Shane Shanahan) sublimely craft a ritualistic, old-world music on Naked Lore but with a modern touch. Elements of Klezmer, chamber-jazz, classical, and improvised music pepper Holmes’s rollicking and ruminative compositions.

March 28: Steve Roach live at Ambient Church. His name is synonomous with the essence electronic music, new age, and space music. Steve Roach’s appearance at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Gramercy Park, a way station in the roving Ambient Church series. follows his concert recording The Sky Opens (Projeckt, 2019), a two-hour performane made for Ambient Church that immerses the listener in cascades of still and shimmering timbres—with all the technology, Roach nevers aims for any place other than the heart.

March 28: Angela Morris, Daniel Wyche, and Tamio Shiraishi & Jessica Ackerley Duo at The Sunview Luncheonette. Guitarist Jessica Ackerley is doing double duty for this evening’s experimental-leaning bill; she’s both curator and performer. Ackerley will lend her jazzy strings-bending magic in a duo with the skronky saxophone pioneer Tamio Shiraishi, whose work with Japanese avant-garde group Fushitsusha is the stuff of legend. A major player on Brooklyn’s avant-jazz scene, composer Angela Morris will perform solo saxophone while Daniel Wyche, a freethinking noisemaker and Chicago experimental music scene mainsta, makes a rare New York City appearance with a solo guitar set. Wyche is celebrating the re-release of The Last Flight of the Voidship Remainder, a self-described “space opera” and “homage to the science-fiction soundscapes of the 20th century.”

March 29: Curt Sydnor at Threes Brewing. With a heady, ever-expanding roster that includes Nick Dunston, Michaël Attias, Adam Hopkins, Dustin Carlson, and the MacroQuarktet, the Brooklyn-Based, artist-run imprint Out Of Your Head Records is quickly becoming an “it” label. That trend continues with its newest out-there release: Deep End Shallow by Richmond, Virginia keyboardist and composer Curt Sydnor. A proggy, space-jazz assault, Sydnor, with Greg Saunier (Deerhoof), saxophonist Caroline Davis (Alula, Lee Konitz), bassist Michael Coltun (Mdou Moctar, Les Rhinocéros), and guitarist Aaron Dugan (Matisyahu) in the fray, trip out on a keyboard-splattered fusion of art-rock, psych, surf, and free jazz. Think Deerhoof meets Sun Ra meets Yonatan Gat.

April 1: Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble at Bohemian National Hall. When Petr Kotik and the Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble play what are now classics of high modernism, it’s hard to believe that the music can be 50 years old, or older. Kotik has been bringing works of Morton Feldman and John Cage to life to years, along with supporting new music and writing his own pieces. The program for this is the world premiere of The River is Dark and Deep, Swim Across With Me, by Miya Masaoka, a recent composition from Christian Wolff, and rarely heard music from Robert Ashley and Julius Eastman. Free but requires an RSVP.

April 1: mssv (Mike Watt, Mike Baggetta, and Stephen Hodges), Ava Mendoza, and Shellshag at Union Pool. An avant-jazz guitarist who can both shred and trip out on psych-rock jams, Mike Baggetta’s command of the six-string calls to mind the fretboard finger work of Nels Cline, Bill Frisell, and David Torn. Baggetta first teamed with bassist Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE, the Stooges) and legendary session drummer Jim Keltner, on Baggetta’s revelatory experimental-jazz album, Wall of Flowers (Big Ego). That union manifested into a brand new band, mssv (short for main, steam, stop valve)—Baggetta, Watt, and Stephen Hodges, the drummer on Watt’s 1997 touchtone, Contemplating the Engine Room. mssv already released one stellar album (Live Flowers) and a new record is forthcoming. Tonight, expect blissful space-jazz freak-outs and Stooges covers. With the excellent avant-punk guitarist Ava Mendoza and Shellshag.

April 2–4: Ende Tymes 11 at H0L0. The eleventh edition of Ende Tymes—the preeminent Festival of Noise and Experimental Liberation—is something to look forward to in these times. This annual summit, cooked up by the ingenious mind of composer and experimental and noise music lifer Bob Bellerue, is a must-attend event where sound designers and harsh noise explorers of the highest order take sonics and collages to dizzying levels. Ende Tymes’ three-night run features dozens of musicians culled from across the globe including, Brian Chase, Bellerue and March Bassett duo, Sunk Heaven, Weisblat, Meehan, and McCowen trio, and much more.

April 3–4: Ka Baird with Max Eilbacher at The Kitchen. Ka Baird is a performer, making music not just with instruments but with the pure capabilities of her voice and her body. Max Eilbacher is an “intermedia” artist, working with processed sound. Over these two nights, the pair will present Vivification Exercises, methods that shape the sonic space via physical exertion, mixing, and audio processing.


George Grella

George Grella is the Rail’s music editor.

Brad Cohan

Brad Cohan is a music journalist based in Brooklyn who has contributed to Bandcamp, The Village Voice, NY Observer, Time Out NY, VICE, Noisey, SPIN, CLRVYNT, Red Bull Music Academy, and other fine publications.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2020

All Issues