Monday, July 25, 2005

Alarm Will Sound
Unremixed [ the music of Richard d. James aka Aphex Twin ]
Frederick P. Rose Hall [ Lincoln Center ]

Last night was the premier performance of acoustic versions of Aphex Twin tracks by Dickinson College based Alarm Will Sound. The performance was held at the new Frederick P. Rose Hall overlooking Columbus Circle in NYC. The really cool thing about this space (well worth visiting for any performance) is that the entire wall behind the performance stage is glass. The hall being on the 5th floor, has stunning views of central park south.

Alarm Will Sound is a 20 member band stretching the definition of what contemporary orchestral concert music is. The Unremixed project spawned from a partnership with Michigan native Dennis Desantis who, for a few previous Alarm concerts, did live digital remixes following the acoustic performance. The idea took shape when member Caleb Burhans suggested taking the process one step further. '"Unremixing" was what we called this idea of making arrangements of electronica tracks that were themselves compositions based on sampled music.'

Traditional instruments were used often in untraditional ways. The group had to get creative in order to duplicate some of the digitally manipulated sounds from the source material. Some of my favorites were a water hose, air pump, engraving tool and can of peas, duck call, refrigerator-rack lamellaphone, and cocktail-stirrer kalimba. No detail was overlooked from the original tracks. Members duplicated voice samples themselves. The performers were arranged so that stereo panning could be achieved with similar instruments on opposite sides of the stage.

Every three or so acoustic pieces, Richard Devine took over and did a digital remix using software and gear. There were four total and some used members of Alarm for added sounds. The first of these was viciously dark. Sort of like a Surgeon/Aphex mashup. There were bits of 303/606 and lots of kaos pad processing. The contrast was nice.

As for Alarms versions of Aphex's tracks, all were really interesting and well performed. It has a little bit of a Stomp or Blue Man Group feel but really a great way to appreciate the similarities and differences in the approaches. I think Alarm succeeded in adding their own voice to the originals while being really accurate. Hopefully this will tour more and outside off NYC. It's highly recommended if you can catch a performance. I also believe the album is now on available iTunes.

Here's a tracklist of what they performed

4, Fingerbib, Avril 14th, Prep Gwarlek 3B, blue calx, Mt. St. Michel, Logon Rock Witch, Omgyjya Switch 7, Gwely Mernans, Cocklver 10, cliffs, Meltphace, and Jenweythek Ylow.

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