SPCO's Liquid Music Series to Welcome Dawn of Midi and Nils Frahm, 11/15
SAINT PAUL, MN -- On Saturday, November 15 at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's Liquid Music series presents the Twin Cities debut of renowned performers Dawn of Midi and Nils Frahm in an evening that explores the interplay between extremes of sonic simplicity and complexity.
With a grand piano, upright bass, and drum set, Dawn of Midi may look like any jazz combo, but their music is anything but standard. Drawing from jazz, minimalism, rock, and a variety of world influences, their sound is ambient yet engrossing, sparse yet rhythmically demanding. Their 2013 release Dysnomia expands the possibilities of acoustic sounds and was heralded by jazz, rock, trance and classical lovers alike. Dawn of Midi will perform on the first half of the program, presenting Dysnomia in its entirety.
The evening will continue with a solo performance by Berlin-based composer/keyboardist Nils Frahm. Frahm's riveting live performances are critically acclaimed, drawing both on his brilliance as a composer and his skills as "a restless but utterly persuasive improviser" (The Guardian). Frahm's music is both explosively energetic and intensely thoughtful. His sonic experiments meld both electronic and acoustic sounds, and his latest release, Spaces, was named "one of the year's best albums" by The Quietus. Frahm will channel his jaw dropping musicianship through his impressive array of keyboards to bring a simultaneously rousing and introspective close to the evening.
Videos and Music:
It all takes place on Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 7:00pm at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall, 6 W 6th St., Saint Paul, MN 55102. Tickets: $15 at thespco.org/liquidmusic or by calling 651.291.1144.
Liquid Music is a new concert series presented by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra that seeks to expand the world of classical music through innovative new projects, boundary-defying artists, and unique presentation formats. Liquid Music performances invite adventurous audiences of all ages to discover the new and the fascinating among the colorful landscape of classical music today.
Listenable and insane. That's the sound Dawn of Midi spent years shaping, culminating in their most mesmerizing work yet: Dysnomia.
In many ways, it's the first record that truly reflects the trio's critically acclaimed live show, a test of endurance and trust that involves bassist Aakaash Israni, pianist Amino Belyamani and percussionist Qasim Naqvi performing their compositions note-for-note without ever appearing the least bit predictable. If anything, Dawn of Midi's sets are as red-blooded and rhythmic as a seamlessly mixed DJ set, casting spells on crowds in the same way the group's favorite experimental and electronic acts have for decades.
Which explains why The New Yorker's music critic, Sasha Frere-Jones, wrote "an hour flew by in what seems like minutes" after witnessing their high-wire act last year, and Radiolab host Jad Abumrad added "[I've] seriously never seen anything like these guys."
Belyamani is quick to say that Dawn of Midi have followed their own internal logic since day one, largely thanks to the fact that they were friends first -- playing late-night tennis matches in dimly lit parking lots well before they stepped into a studio or rehearsal space. As such, Belyamani admits it's taken quite some time to shift from early improv sessions to the well-oiled machine that makes Dysnomia both a dizzying dance record and a deeply immersive living room listen.
"Playing a locked groove like we do on this record involves a lot of discipline and hard work," he explains. "You don't start out that way unless you're a group of folk musicians from the same village."
Forget being from the same village; Dawn of Midi's respective families aren't even from the same country. Belyamani was born in Morocco, where he "grew up in a culture where people do polyrhythms in their sleep." A stateside move didn't happen until he turned 18 and decided to study abroad at CalArts. Meanwhile, Israni relocated from India to Southern California when he was just four months old, and Naqvi's parents left Pakistan before he was born in Connecticut.
"Both my parents are major music fans," says Naqvi. "They love old Hindi songs from the black and white film era, and different kinds of traditional music from the South Asian subcontinent. So that stuff has definitely filtered through me somehow, but scales and rhythms from that part of the world are not something that are central to my musical thinking. At least not yet."
That's the thing about Dawn of Midi now that they're based in Brooklyn and touring open-minded markets worldwide: As carefully cultivated as their aesthetic is, it's also been known to incorporate, willfully and otherwise, such wildly divergent influences and interests as Aphex Twin, the Police, Can and Ms. Pac-Man. And when they really fall for a record -- like they did with Dr. K. Gyasi after hearing his highlife hooks in Berlin-it quickly raises the bar of what they want from their own music.
Hence how Dysnomia ended up being recorded, mixed and mastered in its entirety twice. As Israni explains, "Late one night, I realized the record we had just made wasn't the quantum leap we needed, so we started over. Then it was another year and a half of rehearsing and composing before we could go in the studio again."
It shows. While the original version was semi-improvised like the trio's critically acclaimed debut (2010?s First), the final 46-minute cut is a brooding balancing act between a fascination with structure and a desire to create their own definition of dance music. Set aside an hour to experience the multi-movement title track in full and you'll hear what we mean, as a language only Dawn of Midi truly understands locks into one long, seemingly endless groove and mixer Rusty Santos (Animal Collective, Owen Pallett, DJ Rashad) makes sure every last high-wire hook hits you square in the chest, even the quiet parts.
"It's interesting with this piece," says Naqvi. "There's actual music in the silences. You could almost take the negative space and make something completely different with it."
"The spaces between the dialogues of the notes are filled in by the body of the listener," adds Israni, "and they complete the circuit, leaving one option -- to dance."
Nils Frahm had an early introduction to music. During his childhood he was taught to play piano. It was through this that Nils began to immerse himself in the styles of the classical pianists before him as well as contemporary composers.
Today Nils Frahm works as an accomplished composer and producer from his Berlin-based Durton Studio. His unconventional approach to an age-old instrument, played contemplatively and intimately, has won him many fans around the world. For a musician this early in his career, Frahm displays an incredibly developed sense of control and restraint in his work, catching the ear of many fans.
As the recognition continues to grow for his previous solo piano works 'Wintermusik' (2009) and 'The Bells' (2009), 2011 saw the release of his critically acclaimed record Felt on Erased Tapes Records. The album was followed by the solo synthesiser EP Juno and Screws (2012) -- a birthday gift to his fans he recorded while recovering from a thumb injury. Nils released his follow up to Juno titled Juno Reworked (2013) with guest reworks by Luke Abbott and Clark.
Nils returned with his new album Spaces in 2013, expressing his love for experimentation and answering the call from his fans for a record that truly reflects what they have witnessed during his concerts.