Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Monday Night Ramble at Branded Saloon

This Monday I played a set at Branded Saloon in Prospect Heights which is hosting a weekly music series curated by Martin Urbach and Zach Brock. I played my beloved Yamaha organ and sampler with Jonathan Goldberger on baritone guitar and Ryan Ferreira on guitar. Jonathan and Ryan have such a great command of the sonic possibilities of the guitar and electronics and they achieved a pretty dizzying array of textures.

Unfortunately Ryan is cut out from most of this clip...

We were sharing a bill with trumpeter and composer Josh Deutsch's group Pannonia. It was a great band, really cool writing and interesting instrumentation with Brian Drye on trombone, Zach Brock on violin, Gary Wang on bass and Ronen Itzik on percussion.

A short clip before my camera battery died!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Abby Payne in the NYC Blog-o-Sphere

Before and during our Arlene's Grocery show in July, Abby was interviewed and filmed for the Lower East Side blog The Neighborhood. The resulting film was beautifully produced by Dig for Fire and is presented by Audyssey.
Abby is playing at Rockwood Music Hall on August 15th, and then we're heading upstate for a short tour. Check Abby's website for more details.

The Neighborhood + Dig For Fire present Abby Payne from Dig For Fire on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

21st Century Rock and Roll Spectacle: Sufjan Stevens at Prospect Park

Last night I saw Sufjan Stevens perform at the Bandshell in Prospect Park as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn series. My mind was thoroughly blown. I was simply not prepared for the level of sensory stimulation at work in this concert. The large band (pairs of drummers, trombones, guitars, backup singers, dancers, keyboardists, flutists) were decked out in space-age neon garb and the stage props included giant angel wings worn by Sufjan.
Before I go on about the theatrical nature of the show, I should mention that the music was GREAT! They mostly played music from Sufjan's latest record, The Age of Adz, which is one of my favorite recent albums. The music is very epic with a futuristic electronic sound, and meticulously arranged.

Here's a trailer for the tour.

Sufjan Stevens Concert Trailer: Age of Adz / Prospect Park from Asthmatic Kitty on Vimeo.

The visual art element of the concert was very impressive. There was a lot of great video art synched up to the songs and much of it was breathtaking. I think Wagner would have approved, this was definitely a 21st century indie-rock equivalent of Gesamtkunstwerk, the total work of art, or synthesis of the arts. The show also reminded me of seeing the Flaming Lips for the first time, another group that makes very creative use of video art. Sufjan mentioned briefly that the album was inspired largely by the artist Royal Robertson, and the video art in the show incorporated a lot of his images. Here's a description of Robertson's work.

"The Age of Adz refers to the Apocalyptic art of Royal Robertson (1930 –1997), a black Louisiana-based sign-maker (and self-proclaimed prophet) who suffered from schizophrenia, and whose work depicts the artist’s vivid dreams and visions of space aliens, futuristic automobiles, eccentric monsters, and signs of the Last Judgment, all cloaked in a confusing psychobabble of biblical prophecy, numerology, Nordic mythology and comic book jargon. Portions of the album use Robertson’s work as a springboard into a cosmic consciousness in which basic instincts are transposed on a tableau of extraordinary scenes of divine wrath, environmental catastrophe, and personal loss. In Robertson’s imagination, guns, lasers, gargoyles, and warring battleships upend the sins of mankind with the pageantry of a Hollywood B-movie. (A selection of Robertson’s work adds extraordinary color to the album art as well). "

This is a video that Sufjan made using Robertson's art for the song "Get Real, Get Right."

Get Real, Get Right from Asthmatic Kitty on Vimeo.

New NOOK album in the works!

This past weekend I spent two days recording with NOOK at Motherbrain Studio in Brooklyn. We're all very excited about the music and about the sounds we were able to get at this great studio. We were also very fortunate to have Jon Anderson working with us as engineer. Stay tuned for updates about the new album!

Here's a little documentary video collage.