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June 2013

MATTE Presents Full Moon at Governors Beach Club

by Laura Wasson


As I boarded the crowded ferry heading to Governors Island late Saturday afternoon for MATTE's second-annual Full Moon party, I began to wonder what was I getting into. Could I feasibly cover 15 acts between two stages? The answer to that query quickly turned out to be a resounding "no," but the day was a success nonetheless, and an interesting observational study of the current state of EDM.

I arrived just in time to catch The Deep's set on the smaller Neon Gold stage. The Brooklyn-based DJ collective comprises a rotating cast of friends that took turns spinning their own house-inflected beats for an hour. Even at five in the afternoon, people were dancing—if somewhat trepidatiously.

I then wandered over to the main stage for France’s Yuksek (née Pierre-Alexandre Busson). Busson, a classically trained pianist who also possesses a distinct pop sensibility, has an aesthetic that sounds like a mish-mash of two other noted Gallic bands: Justice and Phoenix (he’s worked with the latter). Eschewing the accessible and light dance-pop of his 2011 EP, the DJ stuck to more minimalist, throbbing beats with scant, repetitive lyrics thrown in for good measure. It nodded to disco, even if somewhat obliquely.

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Vision Festival Experiments with Jazz

by Zoë Gorman

Vision Festival, Feast of Music

Photo credit: Zoë Gorman

Experiments are, by nature, hit or miss, and last week's Vision Festival at Roulette was no exception. A lineup of experimental and avant-garde jazz artists paid tribute to the great jazz pioneers through music, dance, and film, in performances that ranged from superb improvisational collaborations to disorganized noise.

Experimental jazz sits in a precarious position. Modern classical music—or New Music—deviates from traditional theory in premeditated ways that rely on pitch-set classes or motivic structure to evoke very intentional effects. Free jazz, however, erodes both the theoretical backbone of its predecessors and the structural planning of other innovators in the musical sphere. Thus, the art form has the potential to spiral out of control. To create something worthwhile and enjoyable to listen to, free jazz artists rely on interaction with the other performers, and successful interactions include harmonic patterns and rhythms that other players in the group can pick up on, duplicate, and shift.

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Summerstage NYC 2013: "Speak" by Marla Mase and Tomás Doncker

by Dan Lehner


Photo credit: Dan Lehner

Marla Mase has a lot she wants to talk about.

Over the course of the 90-minute “Speak”—a new multimedia/multidisciplinary work based on her album of the same name—Mase and her collaborator Tomás Doncker traversed a fairly large gamut of social and political themes concerning women, including body image, sexuality, and adolescence, as well as more general concerns, like war.

To add to the complexity, Mase and Doncker, aided by a live band during their live performance Saturday night at Herbert Von King Park, draped all of them in a whole host of genres ranging from reggae and punk to roots rock and electronica. As if that weren’t enough, they then included spoken word, popular dance, ballet, and image projection, accompanied by board dancers, actors, and video artists. Like most works of non-linear pastiche, “Speak” aimed at using genre and a variety of media to view a topic several different ways—but unlike most patchwork presentations, Mase and Doncker didn’t limit themselves to multiple views of just one subject. 

There were a few instances where “Speak” was able to make truly effective musings on its subject matter, and each of these moments occurred when Mase and her collaborators were at their most subtle. There were lyrics throughout of feeling invisible, keeping with Mase’s themes of female adolescence, and there was one spoken-word segment in which a fictional “everywoman” muses on what how she should behave and look as a female, keeping the narrative loose and inclusive.

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Song Preservation Society at Union Pool

by Laura Wasson


It isn’t often I have much reason to ruminate on the finer points of poetry and the lost art of songwriting, but Song Preservation Society’s Tuesday night show at Union Pool gave me pause. At a time when sloppy porn-pop and barely comprehensible dubstep rule the airwaves, it was somewhat shocking to hear beautiful, striped-down music that requires a working brain and a beating heart to appreciate.

The L.A.-based trio comprises Trevor Bahnson, Ethan Glazer, and Daniel Wright—guitarists and exquisite singers whose voices seem tailor-made for angelic harmonies. Comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel, as well as Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, are inevitable, but there is a quiet levity and romanticism that distinguishes SPS from their lyrically gifted forefathers.

The crowd was unfortunately small, but I suppose that is to be expected on a unseasonably chilly and damp New York evening, even in Williamsburg. Happily, though, the audience was mostly friends of the band, which added a jovial spirit to the set, even during the most somber interludes. SPS opened with the closing number off Ready Room, their 2012 EP. Stripped of the ebullient orchestration and whistling featured on the album, “You Can’t Stop Me From Tryin’” gained a new urgency and put the spotlight not only their elegant words, but also on Bahnson's, Glazer's, and Wright’s exceptional guitar (and mandolin) playing.

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