Saturday, October 6, 2012

Lubomyr Melnyk at Chapel Performance Space: Oct 23 / Faust US Tour: Oct 14 - 20

Two significant, diametrically disparate and exceedingly rare performances come to town his month! The first being the return of one of the more phenomenal piano performances I've seen in my life. Lubomyr Melnyk's last appearance at Chapel Performance Space was a rapturous cascade of hyper-dynamic tonalities, timbres and physicality. Producing some of the most bewilderingly gorgeous sonic 'scapes I've heard originate from an acoustic instrument, of any kind. His is a music similar to the long-form Indian Ragas of La Monte Young or Terry Riley, but taking the unceasing density of Charlemagne Palestine and wedding it with a repetitive pattern-based minimalism/maximalism akin to the more adventurous Steve Reich or Philip Glass and bending those forms to the service of tonal, harmonious, beauty. Yes, I'd classify this one as unmissable, whether seen here or New York later this month. But don't take my word for it, here's Melnyk exploring his approach from earlier this year on the BBC. As described in the video, his self-pioneered 'Continuous Music' makes for a fascinating read and lends some insight into the performance and it's technique, first represented on his 1978 release "KMH: Piano Music in a Continuous Mode". From Wayward Music Series: "Canadian composer and pianist Lubomyr Melnyk is the pioneer of Continuous Music - a piano technique he has developed since the 1970s that uses extremely rapid notes and note-series to create a rich, pulsating tapestry of sound. The technique of mastering his complex patterns and speeds makes his music difficult for the normal pianist, and the kinetic athleticism of Melnyk's performance is unparalleled. Inspired by the minimal, phase and pattern musics of Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Terry Riley, yet frustrated by the ecstatic detachment from reality they can encourage, Melnyk created Continuous Music, based in the innovations of the minimalist composers but with its roots more deeply planted in harmony. Overtones blend or clash according to the harmonic changes. His first record, KMH: Piano Music in the Continuous Mode (Music Gallery Editions, 1978) was the fruition of the idea he began developing in 1974."

At quite the other end of the musical spectrum, the return of legendary (infamous? Ha.) Krautrock adventurers Faust back on the west coast for the first time after nearly two decades of various tours and incarnations throughout Europe. By incarnations, I mean the Faust(s) plural that now exist. After Jean-Hervé Péron, Zappi W. Diermaier, Geraldine Swayne and James Johnston took a major core of the original lineup and continued on their path with "C'est Com...Com...Compliqué" and this year's "Something Dirty" on Germany's home to all things Krautrock and Kosmische (check their recent Conrad Schnitzler and Kluster reissues for reference), Bureau B. While Hans Joachim Irmler Lars Paukstat, Steven W. Lobdell, Michael Stoll and Jan Fride as a second group, of the same name, released the albums  "Patchwork" and "Faust is Last" simultaneously under their incarnation. Confusing enough? Good. Faust would have it no other way. They apparently would have it no other way than to play a dinky, run-down venue again, that's likely to sell out. Just like the did back in 1994 when they delivered that most unforgettable performance at the Off Ramp the week of my birthday. Power-drilled pianos, DaDa-esque antics and all. Expect equal madness to ensue later this month with their fusion of motoric rhythms, Krautrock grooves, power tools, performance theater and the total abolishment of the 'Fourth Wall'.
Photo credit: Kristin Svanæs