Sometimes, when I look through all of the new music listings in NYC, it's honestly hard to tell one group from the next. And, with most of the music on the program being, well, new, it's hard to know what to expect, unless they're playing something by Reich, Glass, Wolfe, or some other well-known composer of an older generation.
But, Hypercube, who performed last Tuesday night at the DiMenna Center, piqued my interest. And, telling from the packed house, that of many others as well (including familiar faces like Elliott Sharp and Tristan Perich.) Part of what interested me was the NYC-based quartet's unusual lineup of saxophone (Erin Rogers), electric guitar (Jay Sorce), accordion/piano/synth (Andrea Lodge) and percussion (Chris Graham).
Hypercube (named after a geometric shape) performed in the round, switching sides every so often to give everyone a good view. They started with Rogers' own composition, Casino (Remix), which sounded like some sort of Hunter S. Thompson nightmare, with Rogers' tenor sax mimicking the intoxicating chorus of slot machines while Sorce's guitar screeched like someone had set off the fire alarm.
Nicholas Deyoe's they solidify then tilt veered between atmospheric and anxious, inspired by Alison Carter's poem in which she tries to make out the contents of her bedroom in the dark. Sorce played his guitar with partially open strings, creating a tense, glissandi-filled sound.
The main course for the evening was Eric Wubbels' Voided Cross, a 45 minute electro-acoustic work inspired by the contemporary land artist/provocateur Michael Heizer. The titles of the four movements give some sense of the work's harsh, industrial vibe:
- unconscious, volatile
- mechanistic, inorganic, harsh
- respiratory, hypnotic, flexible
- relentless, clangorous
I should have been tipped off by the earplugs I was handed when I walked in, but Wubbels' gets LOUD, like an organ with all of the stops out. It was dark, intense, often veering dangerously close to noise before pulling back to some surprisingly lyrical moments. Hypercube, who commissioned the work from Wubbels, played with precise, emphatic skill, whether it was Lodge's squealing accordion, Sorce's high pitched drone, Graham's bowed vibes, or Rogers - when she wasn't wailing away on her tenor - using a microphone to create short bursts of feedback. The piece climaxed with what sounded like a slowly approaching train, building to a deafening crescendo that gave way to a quiet fade-away ending. Wubbels and Hypercube received an extended, well-deserved ovation - with lots of "Whoo!"s of course.
More pics on the photo page.