|Rhys Chatham — Pythagorean Dream (June 3, 2016)|
Rhys Chatham — Pythagorean Dream (June 3, 2016) ≡♦ The pioneering composer and guitarist’s latest album Pythagorean Dream is a simultaneously giddy and calm mix of the high–minded and the lizard–brained. (Marc Masters)Born: September 19, 1952 in New York, NY
Notable instruments: Electric guitar, amplified trumpet
Location: Paris, Ile-de-France, France
Album release: June 3, 2016
Record Label: Nonesuch Records
01 Part One 19:05
02 Part Two 18:19
03 Whitechapel Brass Variations (Bonus Track) 14:14
© 2016. Composed, Performed, Produced, Engineered & Mastered by Rhys Chatham. © Rhys Chatham. Photo by Roland Owsnitzki
≡♦ “Part One of Pythagorean Dream is comprised of a brief trumpet intro, followed by a guitar piece which implements a finger picking technique (Chatham has long been a fan of this style; John Fahey was one of his teenage musical heroes), before moving to an eBow section, and concluding with the fast tremolo flat–picking technique used in the context of his 100 guitar pieces.”
≡♦ “Both pieces tremble with giddy energy, but also exude a calm atmosphere in their chiming overtones. In the end, flute and guitar fully unite: The former folds into the latter in a triumphant refrain that soars so high it sounds light–headed, as if Chatham is dizzied by his own playing”. — Pitchfork, 7.6
≡♦ “By layering loops of his own playing — on trumpet, guitar and flute — Chatham’s Pythagorean Dream delivers a pair of captivating, hypnotic performances”. — The Guardian
≡♦ “A deftly constructed piece... A fingerpicking style inspired by John Fahey has been influential here. The higher notes rain down, anchored by a low, slow fundamental. The harmonics shift into place, and by the time a drone has smeared the sound into a mass, the work is done.” — The Wire (Issue #387, May 2016)≡♦ “The music is, on its own, fascinating... Pythagorean Dream, in its two–part construction, stands alone as a great composition and performance by Rhys Chatham, a reminder of his ability as a player in his own right and not only a composer or fisher of guitarists.” — Popmatters
≡♦ “Rhys Chatham leaves an orchestra–sized audio footprint without any overdubbing or any other musician involved. Pythagorean Dream is an avant–garde minimalist’s dream come true.” — Something Else
≡♦ “Pythagorean Dream is a qualified success because it shows Chatham moving forward with his craft, if only by simply reaching back.” — Exclaim!
≡♦ “Scrappy fingerstyle picking bathes the listener in a droning swarm of sound loaded with overtones.” — Chicago Reader
≡♦ “Chatham composed, performed, produced, engineered and mastered the sublimely gnarled guitarscapes found on Pythagorean Dream, a recording comprised of three marathon complexities he’s calling back to basics with a focus on the electric guitar with flute and trumpet thrown in.” — Observer
≡♦ “At about twenty minutes per part, you’ll have time to meditate, fret, or mentally spelunk into Chatham’s harmonically complex overtones.” — Village Voice Press Release:
≡♦ Rhys Chatham returns with his first new album in 3 years, the apocryphal and enchanting Pythagorean Dream. Primarily focused on the electric guitar (but also featuring flute and a bit of trumpet) the recording is named after the Pythagorean guitar tuning it employs. The new album is a truly singular endeavour; composed, performed, produced, engineered and mastered solely by Chatham.
≡♦ Following his Guitar Trio Is My Life! and A Crimson Grail records — the latter: the extensive revisiting of his groundbreaking “Guitar Trio” (1977) which featured the entire guitar section of Sonic Youth, and members of Swans, Tortoise, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Modern Lovers, A Silver Mt. Zion & Hüsker Dü; the former: his work for for 400 guitars which premiered in Paris in 2005 and was reworked for the Lincoln Center Out Of Doors Festival in New York City in 2009 — Chatham felt a need to get back to basics, returning to that most intimate and direct way of experiencing music: the solo. © Rhys Chatham performs at Danceteria with Wharton Tiers. Photo credit: Roberto Masotti.
≡♦ Going back to the model of composer as performer that was pioneered in the 1960s by artists such as Tony Conrad and Terry Riley, Chatham began to develop solos that he would play himself, choosing to incorporate the multi–second delay effect pioneered by Terry Riley with two Revox Tape Machines. Feeling that it tied in with his overall minimalist aesthetic (having studied under, and then worked with La Monte Young in the early 1970s) and that the effect (which gives the impression that choirs and choirs of instruments are playing) was fitting as a succession to his 100–guitar idea, Chatham created and layered feedback loops of varying durations using Riley’s method in order to create rich, overlapping layers, which in practice transcend the limitations of their start and end points, blooming into free–flowing melodies in their own right.
≡♦ Part One of Pythagorean Dream is comprised of a brief trumpet intro, followed by a guitar piece which implements a finger picking technique (Chatham has long been a fan of this style; John Fahey was one of his teenage musical heroes), before moving to an eBow section, and concluding with the fast tremolo flat–picking technique used in the context of his 100 guitar pieces.
≡♦ Part Two is principally about Chatham’s return to the flute, the instrument which sparked his love of contemporary music; which he mastered in his adolescence prior to experiencing the early Ramones show at CBGB’s and which caused him to changed course and focus on the electric guitar. While composing this solo work, Chatham figured that the flute’s timbre would make a suitably interesting contrast to the guitar and trumpet, which led him to pick up the instrument again. Pythagorean Dream features Chatham on C, alto & bass flutes. The recording is brought to a close with a final guitar piece. © Chatham conducts An Angel Moves Too Fast to See (1989) for 100 electric guitars, electric bass and drums in Nantes, France at Le Lieu Unique.
¬* Rhys Chatham is a composer, guitarist and trumpet player from Manhattan, currently living in Paris, who altered the DNA of rock and created a new type of urban music by fusing the overtone–drenched minimalism of the early 60s with the relentless, elemental fury of the Ramones — the textural intricacies of the avant–garde colliding with the visceral punch of electric guitar–slinging punk rock.
¬* Starting with Guitar Trio in the 1970s and culminating with A Crimson Grail for 200 electric guitars in 2009, Chatham has been working for over 30 years to make use of armies of electric guitars in special tunings to merge the extended–time music of the sixties and seventies with serious hard rock.
¬* Parallel with his rock–influenced pieces, Chatham has been working with various brass configurations since 1982, and recently has developed a completely new approach to collaborations, improvised and compositional pieces involving trumpet through performances and recordings that started in 2009. Chatham’s trumpet work deploys extended playing techniques inherited from the glory days the early New York minimalist and 70s loft jazz period.
¬* Rhys was introduced to electronic music and composition by Morton Subotnick in the late 60s, and in the early seventies he studied composition with La Monte Young and played in Tony Conrad’s early group. These composers are, along with Terry Riley, the founders of American minimalism and were a profound influence on Chatham’s work.
¬* Chatham’s instrumentation ranges from the seminal composition composed in 1977 entitled Guitar Trio for 3 electric guitars, electric bass and drums, to the epoch evening–length work for 100 electric guitars, An Angel Moves Too Fast to See, composed in 1989... all the way to Chatham's recent composition for 200 electric guitars, Crimson Grail, which was commissioned by the City of Paris for La Nuit Blanche Festival in 2005. A completely new version of the piece was commissioned by the Lincoln Center Outdoor Summer Festival in 2009. © Rhys Chatham and Tony Conrad after a concert of Tony's that Rhys played in Paris, France. Photo Guy Girard.
¬* Minimalist experimental composer whose compositions for guitar were a huge infleunce on New York’s no wave scene of the early 1980s.
Artist Biography by Joslyn Layne
¬* Post–minimalist composer and New York downtown music figure Rhys Chatham was involved in music at an early age. He studied classical flute, and was already playing works by contemporary composers such as Luciano Berio and Pierre Boulez by the time he began studying composition (including serialism) in his early teens. Chatham started writing electronic works after meeting Morton Subotnick in college, and came into contact with Eliane Radigue, Maryanne Amacher, and Ingram Marshall, among others, at NYU’s Studio for Electronic Music. Starting in the ‘70s, Chatham began composing in just intonation, and made a living tuning instruments, sometimes in trade for lessons, as he did with LaMonte Young. He played in Young’s Dream House band and in a group with Tony Conrad during this time. Later in the ‘70s, Chatham began incorporating rock elements into his music and explored non–notated forms. The rock part of his work mainly focused on electric guitars which he was inspired to love after seeing the Ramones play at CBGB’s. Chatham’s guitar works — the first of which, “Guitar Trio,” was premiered by a trio including Glenn Branca — were played at high volumes, revealing the overtones, which can sound like voices, but also resulted in tinnitus for him by the early ‘80s. Chatham’s better–known guitar works include “Drastic Classicism” (1982) for four guitars with alternate tunings, and the symphony “An Angel Moves Too Fast to See” (1989) for 100 electric guitars (with bass and drums). Performances of his large–scale works utilized guitarists including Bill Brovold (who went on to form Larval) and Robert Poss (Band of Susans). Chatham began composing for brass (such as “Factor X”) in addition to guitar, and resumed notating his works. After years of living in NYC, he relocated to Paris. Chatham also began incorporating his trumpeting (often electrified, with effects) after about a decade of studying the instrument. You can hear his trumpet on Hard Edge (1999, Wire Editions) and Neon (1996, NTone), an album by Chatham and Martin Wheeler. In the late ‘90s, Chatham co–founded the group Septile with a Bronx DJ and ex–Swans drummer Jonathan Kane.
¬* [Rhys Chatham] is one of noise rock’s founding fathers. Without him, there would be no Sonic Youth, no Jesus and Mary Chain, no My Bloody Valentine . . . he remains a towering figure among six–string aficionados. — Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune, author of Wilco: Learning How to Die
¬* “…spacious drones shimmering with intricate harmonic effects.” — Chicago Reader
¬* “It might justly be considered music to pray to.” — Will Hermes, The New York Times
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rhys-Chatham-12273903717/ © Rhys Chatham at BAM in 1990. Photo credit: Paula Court.
|Rhys Chatham — Pythagorean Dream (June 3, 2016)|