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January 29, 2016

Ashley Fure in Word and Action

by Jacob Greenberg

On a residency visit last October to Dartmouth College, three ICE players attended a course for undergraduates called “Introduction to Sonic Arts,” led by new professor Ashley Fure.  The class began with a student-led meditation, after which the students were invited to speak about what they heard.  Though early in the semester, Ashley’s teaching fingerprint was all over the class; these students had their ears to unusual definitions of music, and they were eager to be amazed by what they discovered.  As ICE taught the class a favorite piece by Pauline Oliveros, the students picked it up with startling speed; they were clearly conditioned to immediately grasp the performative energy of a new piece, and embrace their role as participants.

JG: What are some things that you usually find yourself saying to performers of your music, especially chamber groups?  Do you think that knowing the performers of ICE will influence your "directorial" choices?

Ashley Fure: The techniques I ask of players often demand a certain abandon to produce - a wildness in terms of limb movement or breath control, for example.  Getting folks to break away from the static, notated symbol and invite just the right type of chaos into their sounds is often the biggest challenge in rehearsal.

* * * *

Later in the Dartmouth residency, the morning after an amazing evening meal cooked by Ashley, ICE played some student works.  Ashley sat in on the session, and was patient and sparing with her comments about the compositions.  As we played the works, ICE spoke mostly about the practicalities of some extended instrumental techniques.  Though an expert in this area, which has shaped her aesthetic and defined her exploratory method of work, she wanted to hear every piece of advice ICE gave to the students.

ICE percussionist Ross Karre has known Ashley since high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy.  They collaborate again for this week’s Miller Composer Portrait, building toward a larger piece for the Darmstadt Summer Courses.  Their sessions, which also include collaboration from Ashley’s brother, architect Adam Fure, are labor-intensive, actually spent creating the percussion and string instruments that will be used in the performance.  But the time is also open-ended, as they investigate these new instruments’ fields of resonance. 

JG: What is the idea in grouping these particular pieces together on a program?  Is there a sequence from the earliest-composed pieces to the world premiere, Etudes from the Anthropocene?

AF: The work I've made over the past 8 years ranges from purely instrumental to purely electronic, from music with dancers to immersive, interactive installations. I'm excited to say in this portrait concert we've found a way to adapt that diverse range to the proscenium constraints of Miller Theater.  Albatross explores physical movement in the same spirit as Ply, an electroacoustic ballet I made with choreographer Yuval Pick. Though purely instrumental, Something to Hunt and Soma treat many of the same kinetic ideas that undergird installations like Tripwire and Veer.  Etudes from the Anthropocene offers a window into the charged, saturated intermedia work I have been making. I hope people will leave this concert with a rich sense of who I am and what I care about as an artist.

* * * *

Join Ashley and ICE for her Miller Theatre Portrait Concert on Thursday, February 4 at 8 PM.  It’s a highlight of ICE's season, and is not to be missed.

December 18, 2015

Suzanne Farrin: Humanist Attractions and La Dolce Morte

Visitors to ICEhaus this week will have seen composer Suzanne Farrin working intensely with six ICE musicians--strings, harp, and winds--and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo.  The work being rehearsed, La Dolce Morte, was seen partly in an early version at Mostly Mozart in 2012, at the Park Avenue Armory, and will have its premiere with ICE in April at the Metropolitan Museum's Spanish Courtyard.  Anthony's otherworldly voice intones love poems by Michelangelo while surrounded by delicate, visceral instrumental timbres.  Jacob Greenberg spoke with Suzanne before the rehearsals began about the work's inspirations, what she hoped to accomplish in this workshop period, and what audiences can expect from the piece.

Jacob Greenberg:  What was the primary inspiration for the piece?  

Suzanne Farrin:  It started to form around the discovery of the texts.  I found a book of Michelangelo's poems wandering around the Strand Bookstore, and what I felt when reading them was this very operatic sensibility, even though they were written before the advent of what we consider to be opera.  Other people tell me that visual artists look to the future better than we do as a musicians, so it's not out of the realm of possibility to imagine Michelangelo in a sound world beyond his actual years.   

JG:  What about instrumentation?  

SF:  I thought a lot about how to create a sensibility of the Baroque moment, of this early operatic moment, so I looked for instruments that I thought could capture that, but not period instruments, obviously.  

JG:  Did your extended instrumental techniques follow from that?

SF:  I wonder!  The energy definitely does, and the text setting is a primary part of this whole motivation, so I would think so.

JG:  Any moments we should listen for in the text, or any musical moments we should listen for specifically?

SF:  I feel like each of the poems draws on a very independent world, so each of the ones I'm setting takes us to different part of a humanist experience--Michangelo being such a wonderful example of humanist thinking.  They're all through the lens of a visual artist, and it's a very corporeal language--I can't imagine all visual artists would have the same corporeal way of speaking about human experience--and of course they're love poems, but it's love as a vehicle for all kinds of other things.  It's love as a lens for living, for theology--he has a large world that he sees through his physical attraction to another person.  Some of the poems are a little creepy--there's one where he writes about wanting to be the skin around his lover, or wanting to be the boots that he wears.  If we received a poem like that, it might give us pause!  [Laughs.]  It's fascinating and wonderful that it's so sincere.  And some of the poems show beautifully the transcendental experience of being in love, bringing it into the world of making art with your hands.  He tries to understand what the human experience brings him as an artist.  And there's one poem which is very painful, one where he actually regrets the vulnerability of being in love, and he says that he wants his tears back, he wants his footsteps back.  There will be moments when you hear love's sadness.    

JG:  You've chosen a voice type which is great at expressing fragility.  When did Anthony come in to the project?

SF:  I don't know when it happened that I imagined including a countertenor--there are so many people writing for countertenor now that it's having a renaissance.  I must have been part of that collective consciousness.  But I think it speaks to us on a lot of levels.  There's a certain strength, especially with Anthony, who has an incredibly soaring quality to his voice, with many colors, so there isn't one trick--there are a lot of gestures, and a lot of ways even of coloring a vowel.  Also the genderless quality of the voice--a familiar unfamiliarity.  You know it, but you can't quite place it--it's an amazing sound, and you wonder, who can do that?

JG:  Anything you'd like to say about the spatialization of the work at the Met?

SF:  It's a challenging and exciting space to write for!  I decided to go in with some engineers to get a scientific perspective.  I got a chance to learn what frequencies are excited in that space, and also try out some things in the space with James Austin Smith, the oboist, to find out how the oboe would react to different surfaces.  That was really interesting because things I thought would be really powerful actually had no timbral effect at all.  The space is so live and present that you can be everywhere and still feel that you're very close to the sound.  The challenge will be to gauge how the sounds of the instruments travel at such different rates to the ear, and to try to keep the amount of sound information at a level that we can appreciate...I think the visuals will really help because they'll help the listener focus in different ways.  Seeing the musician move with the instrument is really important in such a reverberant space--it's like electronics you can never turn off!  You need to see bows move and people breathe. 

*  *  *

Suzanne Farrin's La Dolce Morte has had an unusually fruitful and eventful gestation with the players of ICE.  It will have its Metropolitan Museum premiere on April 1 and 2.  Seating is limited!  Buy your tickets soon.

November 16, 2015

Inventing New Dialogues

ICE co-artistic directors Claire Chase and Joshua Rubin offer these musings, adapted from the Boulez at 90 book for our four programs this week at National Sawdust.  ICE is thrilled to present these programs, in turn retrospective, celebratory, and ground-breaking, which reflect on the legacy of ICE’s most respected antecedents, role models, and inspirations.

NEW DIALOGUES

When ICE was just an embryo at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1999 - not yet hatched and not yet named - we often mused on what it would be like to create an American improvisation on Ensemble InterContemporain, our musical heroes, whose rigorous and inspired performances of the works of Pierre Boulez and other mid-20th century masters we studied with fascination and a healthy dose of the kind of fear that is born of pure awe and admiration. How might the music of our time metamorphose if such an ensemble were formed to pioneer works of our generation of composers from all over the world, with a particular emphasis on artists from the Americas? And what would happen if such an organization made a commitment, like Boulez had, not just to the artistic excellence of performances of this new repertory, but a commitment to organizational sustainability – to the audacious notion that a group dedicated to experimental music could somehow, someday, make a living doing this?

Six years later, when ICE was a burgeoning collective based in Chicago and operating on a shoestring budget, we were invited to play at our first international festival in the beautiful city of Morelia, Mexico (significantly, the butterfly capital of the world). On our first night there, following a 12-hour journey, we attended an astounding solo concert of Pascal Gallois which included Luciano Berio's Sequenza XII--a piece written for Pascal and inspired by his limitless technique and imagination. We had never seen a wind soloist play with this butterfly-like combination of bravery and fragility, command and nuance, poetry and ferocity. Too shy to speak with him after the performance, we let that opportunity slip by us, and we simply admired him and his work from a distance for the next six years.

You can imagine our surprise when Pascal popped up on ICE’s Facebook page a few years ago, commenting on ICE performances he’d seen on DigitICE, our streaming video archive, offering encouraging remarks before concerts, expressing his heartfelt enthusiasm for the group’s efforts to advocate for new music on and off the stage. You can imagine our sheer delight when he suggested a few years later that we work together on a project centering on the work of Boulez during his 90th birthday year, and on the concept of the “dialogues” between cultures, generations and aesthetic viewpoints that have emerged from this iconic, at times incendiary, but inarguably visionary figure in music history.

We have taken this opportunity, first in France and now in New York at National Sawdust - our proud new Brooklyn home for contemporary music - to craft programs that capture the power and beauty of Boulez's music through a series of New Dialogues. Using Boulez's playful masterpiece with electronics, Dialogue de l'ombre double, as a springboard, these programs introduce new works by Olga Neuwirth, George Lewis, Sabrina Schroeder, and Franck Bedrossian that inflect the impossibly vibrant landscape of voices in the golden era of new music today that Boulez set in motion a half-century ago. And in the closing concert of the week, we put Boulez “en dialogue” with his closest musical compatriots from both sides of the Atlantic (Luigi Nono, Elliott Carter, and Karlheinz Stockhausen) at the height of their creative powers.

None of the preposterous dreams we indulged as adolescents at Oberlin would have even entered our collective consciousness without the intrepidity and the audacity of Pierre Boulez. Was it a coincidence that ICE is an anagram of EIC? In the words of Mr. Boulez himself, “Music is a labyrinth with no beginning and no end, full of new paths to discover, where mystery remains eternal.”

We are grateful to JazzBank, the French-American Cultural Exchange, The National Sawdust Factory, and most of all to Pascal for bringing this pulsating dialogue to life.

--Claire Chase and Joshua Rubin

November 13, 2015

Pascal Gallois speaks with Rebekah Heller about ICE, Boulez, and new works for National Sawdust

Rebekah Heller: Pascal, we are SO excited to have you joining us for our first concerts at National Sawdust (NS) this month! I can't wait to play Olga Neuwirth's bassoon duo with you on the first 3 concerts! (11/17, 11/18, 11/19)

Pascal Gallois: I am very happy and proud to share these first concerts at National Sawdust with you and the entire ICE team. Doubly happy to do this in homage to Pierre Boulez. You are so committed to the contemporary bassoon repertoire, working with composers and sharing it with the audience in the US - I find your work remarkable.

RH: Throughout your career, you have commissioned an enormous amount of solo repertoire for the bassoon, and have been a huge inspiration to me and to other young wind players to go out and do the same. How does a new piece come about for you? In what ways have these collaborations with composers influenced your playing and music-making? Have you noticed a development in your interactions with composers over the years?

PG: A new piece is the story of a three-way encounter: the composer, the instrumentalist and the audience. I have always approached composers after having studied their other works: their solo pieces for other instruments as well as for the bassoon and also their chamber and orchestral music. Above all, I needed to be able to imagine what such and such composer could bring to the bassoon. Exchanges and conversations are very important between the performer and the composer. Luciano Berio summed it up very well: “You have to explain to bassoonists that a piece doesn’t get ‘ordered’ from a composer the way a Saint-Saëns Sonata does from a music store!” This also influences my interpretations of the works, since I strive to recreate for the audience that miraculous moment - that spark - when the idea of a piece appears in the composer’s mind… Often, it’s not until after many long conversations that the flash materializes in their eyes. The bassoon and the bassoonist are a source of inspiration. This has always existed, but many times the instrument’s technical aspects have thwarted collaborations. It’s up to us to rationalize technique on the bassoon, to “simplify” it in some ways, to help the composer transcend it. Over the years, composers have opened new horizons for the bassoon, as fears of receiving poor performances from bassoonists have dissipated. And you count for a lot in that regard, Rebekah, since it’s important that composers feel understood by bassoonists on all continents. In short, it is essential to collectively share and feed into new repertoire!

RH: Besides commissioning, you are also active in transcribing music for the bassoon - we will hear you play Boulez's 'Dialogue de l'ombre double' - originally for clarinet - at NS. The Neuwirth duo we will play together is originally for cello and bassoon. What is it in a piece that makes you want to transcribe it? What is your process? Were there extreme challenges in these two pieces in making them sound authentic, and also idiomatic for the bassoon?

PG: With regard to transcription, I want to underline that I think it’s important to have the composer’s agreement, and if possible, his/her involvement. The idea of transcribing ‘Dialogue de l’ombre double’ for the bassoon came to Pierre Boulez and me simultaneously after a concert at the Festival in Avignon, where Boulez had just heard me play Stockhausen’s ‘In Freundschaft’, which is also a piece originally written for the clarinet.

Historically, this has often happened: Mozart transcribed his oboe concerto for the flute, Weber transcribed his own ‘Hungarian Andante and Rondo’ for the bassoon, though it was originally composed for the viola. When this happens in the composer’s lifetime - and with him/her - the piece then becomes a new original work. Furthermore, the clarinet and the bassoon both have a large range and the piece remains in the same tessitura.

Luciano Berio knew of my work with Boulez, and followed it closely. When we were working together on the bassoon ‘Sequenza’ [written for Gallois], he liked to remind me that ‘Dialogue’ was a gift Boulez had composed for him, on the occasion of his 60th birthday in 1985. ‘Dialogue’ contains elements and winks to Stockhausen and Berio… While I retain the original tempo, there are certain particularities of ‘Dialogue’ that distinguish the bassoon version from the clarinet one: for example, Boulez and I worked to develop flexibility and diversity of timbres on the bassoon, while the clarinet version plays more on the dynamic range. In this piece the “live” instrumentalist plays, or dialogues, with his/her “shadow”, which is a recording of the same musician played through a number of speakers surrounding the audience.

RH:  It is such an honor for ICE to work with you - we have all grown up with the Ensemble InterContemporain (EIC)'s seminal recordings and your trend-setting work. This inter-generational and inter-continental collaboration feels energizing and generative - we are sharing "our" repertoire with "yours" with the hope that it might inspire even younger musicians to look outside of their immediate vicinities for new relationships and influences. I am curious to hear your thoughts about our work together and how you imagine this going forward - what brought you to ICE? What has been different about working with us from your work with the EIC? What words of wisdom do you have for us, and for the younger generation?

PG: The Ensemble Intercontemporain (EIC) was born from the “Domaine Musical” ensemble that Pierre Boulez formed in 1954 in Paris. Without Boulez, the EIC would never have been. I had the unique good fortune of having been hired by Boulez at age 22, and I learned contemporary music, like my colleagues, under his supervision. Boulez was committed to training his team of soloists himself. In 1981, when I joined the EIC, Boulez invited all the great composers I have since worked closely with on their approach to writing for the bassoon: Messiaen, Stockhausen, Berio, Xenakis, Ligeti, Kurtag etc… and also Elliott Carter who was a close friend of Boulez’s! Carter was the composer of friendship and Franco-American exchange! Berio was also well connected to the US. We have the responsibility of taking this torch, this time between instrumentalists on both sides of the Atlantic. With the advent of technologies, your generation has limitless possibilities; and NYC is, more than ever, the capital of artistic encounters. The difference between the EIC and ICE is that you are a collective of musicians and you formed on your own, while the EIC is the brainchild of Boulez. Working with you, I feel deeply your exceptional curiosity and enthusiasm!

To answer your first question, Rebekah, ICE gives me so much of its energy and responds whole-heartedly to the necessity of rethinking musical creation and presentation in the 21st century. The ICE initiatives online [digitice.org] should be an example to all contemporary music ensembles. I learn a lot from you all, since, if one is truly interested in the creation of new things, the younger generation should be explored! I don’t feel in a position to give you any wisdom… In order to create, true wisdom would probably be not to have any. In the words of the philosopher Socrates: “Wisdom begins in wonder."



November 2, 2015

Hagoromo Tableaus

by Jacob Greenberg, ICE pianist, Director of Education

A fisherman dances a surreal pas de deux with a golden cape.  The cape is an angel’s garment, separated from the heavenly body which would give it shape.  The fisherman’s dance is full of wonder, as his imagination races—to whom does this luxurious fabric belong?  How is it that I can dance with it as with a real person?  The intimate scene is in complete silence, which signals a shocking loss, a detachment.  Planes of heavenly and earthly emotion cannot reconcile, and musical harmony cannot prosper.  The fisherman, bounding about with childlike energy, underscores the cruel, noiseless absurdity of the angel’s fractured spirit.

* * * *

A storm unfolds with the brutal inevitability of ritual.  A rope, whose end has a heavy knot, pounds and echoes against a stone.  The song of a bassoon embodies the reckless spirit of nature’s destruction: it wails, dances, and grunts, as its sound is broken, shattered and scattered.  Brittle percussion rattles and jolts.  Disembodied voices of girls trace the same rising scale again and again, building to delirium; they lament the waves’ ruthless thrashing, but also celebrate their epic force.

* * * *

The luminous angel confronts the earthbound fisherman and asks for her garment.  He stubbornly refuses.  They dance warily around each other, each searching for the key that will unlock the other.  This is Gagaku, stately Japanese court music; patient waves of sustained sounds are added and subtracted with measured precision from the taut musical fabric.  It is marked at the same time by a steady, seething pulse—sometimes from a plucked harmonic on guitar, an exclamation from a woodblock, or a chanted beating phrase in the chorus. 

* * * *

Phantasmal tones of a contrabass flute—shadowy sounds which exist between worlds, from a tall and imposing angled instrument—seek to bridge the earth with the beyond.  Amplified sounds of outward and ingressive breathing expand and contract a sense of psychological space.  A kaleidoscope of musical colors follows: dulcimer, gongs, multiphonic chords on bassoon.  A tremolo on electric guitar, and a high trill in the violin.  The dancers that tell the Hagoromo story respond to this music of constantly shifting perspective: it passes between exotic realities as they do, and it tries to find a place where souls can connect.

____________

Hagoromo is presented by the Brooklyn Academy of Music this week as part of the 2015 Next Wave Festival, at the BAM Harvey Theatre, in association with American Opera Projects.  Five members of ICE play Nathan Davis's transfixing music with the talented Brooklyn Youth Chorus.  ICE's amazing collaborators include dancers Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, and director and visual wizard David Michalek.

August 17, 2015

Launching ICEcommons

ICE is launching a new call for scores via our new emerging composer index: www.ICEcommons.org. Fill in the submission form for each piece that you’d like us to consider performing in the coming season! Submission is free. Selected composers will be contacted for permission to program their work on the 15-16 season on or before December 1, 2016. We look forward to fostering many new collaborations with emerging composers from around the globe via this new, searchable library.

ICEcommons is a crowdsourced index of newly composed music. It is designed to be a searchable repository of the catalogues and works of emerging, established, published, and unpublished composers. By collecting the metadata (instrumentation, duration, composer name, title) of living composers’ works, coupled with the means of acquiring sheet music (links to score downloads, rental, and purchase sites), ICEcommons will aggregate and organize new scores into one place—an open, public library hosted by metafields.org through which performers, scholars, composers, and listeners can discover and obtain new works. With the help of musicians and composers like you, ICEcommons will grow to become a vital programming resource for ensembles around the world.

ICEcommons launched its pilot season on August 15, 2015, at which point the submission process became open to any composer interested in adding their worklist or score information. On December 1, ICE will announce the selection of ten ICEcommons works which will be featured on OpenICE concerts during the 2015-16 season. ICE will contact each composer to secure the necessary rights to perform the piece. Performances will be documented through HD video and audio and made available through ICE’s online library, DigitICE (after review by the composer and performers). Through partnering with ensembles and organizations in future seasons, we will vastly expand the size and reach of ICEcommons, allowing ICE to continue being an advocate for emerging and lesser-known composers, as well as unheard works from deep within their catalogues. ICEcommons represents our continued commitment to performances of rare and underrepresented works by living composers.

August 13, 2015

Announcing Vanessa Rose as ICE’s New Executive Director

The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) announced today that Vanessa Rose has been named its new Executive Director. ICE founder Claire Chase will remain ICE’s Co-Artistic Director and flutist. Rose comes to ICE from the Lark Play Development Center where she served as Director of Development from 2013-2015. She was selected by ICE’s Board of Directors on August 3 and will assume the directorship on September 1, 2015, alongside Chase and Co-Artistic Director and clarinetist Joshua Rubin.

ICE Board President, Claude Arpels, stated that “Vanessa shares ICE’s commitment to creating exciting new music through an artist-led organization. She brings the right mix of experience, sensitivity, and management skills to help ICE continue to succeed.”

Claire Chase adds, “Of all the trails that this mighty group of artists has blazed over the last decade and a half—from our seedlings as students at Oberlin in 2000, to our very first public concert in 2002 produced on $603 amassed from my holiday catering tips, to the group’s performances this coming Sunday at Alice Tully Hall—this moment of welcoming new leadership in Vanessa Rose stands in my mind as one of the bravest and most remarkable. I am so proud of the entire team at ICE for taking the enormous leap from being a founder-driven organization to being an organization that can stand boldly on its own feet. I have deep faith in Vanessa to lead ICE into the next era, and to do it with the passionate collaborative artistic spirit that has fueled everything this group has accomplished to date.”

Rose brings a range of experiences working in the arts and a passion for the innovative musical experiences synonymous with ICE. Her previous positions include Director of Development at the Lark Play Development Center, where she helped to lead the theater organization's expanded fundraising programs and strategic branding, and Managing Director of The Knights, a New York-based orchestra collective. While at The Knights, Rose developed a board of directors, created a fundraising program, and oversaw an international tour, WQXR radio residency and several recording projects. In addition, Rose has served as Associate Director of Patron Program and Membership at the Metropolitan Opera, cultivating and soliciting hundreds of donors and supporting key Board members in their own fundraising. In 2006, Rose completed the League of American Orchestras' prestigious Orchestra Management Fellowship Program, which included residencies with the Dallas Symphony, Elgin Symphony, Aspen Music Festival and School and the San Francisco Symphony.

"I am thrilled to have this opportunity to collaborate with the creative and inspiring artists, supporters and partners in the ICE community. A longtime ICE fan, I am very excited to help the group expand its groundbreaking programs and exceptional music-making,” said Rose.

Rose is a violinist and has performed with, among others, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Harrisburg Symphony, and Spoleto Festivals (Italy and USA). She comes from a musical family and attended the Eastman School of Music, Mannes College of Music and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, The Netherlands. Rose lives in Riverdale, NY with her musician husband, Patrick Pridemore, and their two children.

The search for ICE’s new Executive Director began approximately 18 months ago. The Board of Directors conducted an international search and consulted with the executive recruiting firm Occam Global to support its efforts.

July 15, 2015

Mario Diaz de Leon in Conversation with Alice Teyssier

Denovali releases Mario Diaz de Leon's latest record, The Soul is the Arena, featuring ICE on July 17. The album compiles two previously released works featuring Claire Chase and Joshua Rubin as soloists, along with the world premiere recording of Portals Before Dawn for ensemble. ICE flutist Alice Teyssier talks with Diaz de Leon about his decade-long relationship with ICE, the role of metal, mythology, mysticism in his music, as well as upcoming projects.

Alice Teyssier: We are so psyched that you are continuing your work with ICE! Can you talk a little bit about how your writing for Claire and Josh and the rest of the group has evolved since our first collaboration? (Was that in 2011?)

Mario Diaz de Leon: I’m amazed and beyond grateful that its been continuing for so long now.  It actually started with a pre-ICELab program called “Young Composers Project” back in 2006.  We did a premiere of mine in October of that year, with a piece called “Trembling Time” for 5 strings and flute. I was really excited about it because I had wanted to work with ICE for years, and the 2 shows we did went really well.  I got to work with Dave Bowlin, Wendy Richman, Maya Papach, Eric Lamb - it was just great.  But there were no plans beyond that one piece.  Then in the summer of 2007, Claire got in touch and said that we should continue working together the following season, and asked if I had anything in mind.  Her timing was amazing, because I had just signed a deal for an album with Tzadik.  There was more music to write for the album when I signed, and older pieces to record, and we eventually spent the next two years finishing the album together.  That was when we really started to collaborate closely – I wrote “The Flesh Needs Fire” and “Mansion” especially for Claire, Josh, Eric, and Nathan.  The Tzadik album was finished and released in 2009, and Claire asked me to do the first round of ICELab about a year later.  Which was amazing timing, again, because I was already going to ask them if they would do something similar, without knowing that they were starting this big program.  We really wanted to present an evening length set of my works for the group.  That’s when I wrote the music for this album, between 2010 and 2011.  So the foundation was solid at that point, we had a history to build on, and there was certainly a lot of momentum leading up to it. 

AT: It is clear through your performer persona and through your use of electronic music in particular that your background in hardcore punk and metal music still pervades your creative output. How do these different musical worlds reconcile themselves in your life? What are some techniques you use in your compositions that blend the genres?

MDdL: I think that living in NYC, and the amazing communities here, reconcile the differences and make it possible for me to do this.  The scenes are really strong.  In March, I performed at Saint Vitus two days before I had a string orchestra premiere at Roulette.  A few weeks ago I finished a new Oneirogen EP and then I went straight into a new piano and electronics piece for Stephen Gosling.  I’m debuting a new metal band this year at Martyrdoom Festival, I’ll probably be in the middle of writing a new piece for TAK when that happens. This has been my life, in one way or another, for many years, and I can say from experience that I need metal, electronic music, classical music, and free improvisation in my life, its part of survival for me.  If one is missing I lose my sense of balance over time.  And I’m beyond grateful to the people who make it possible for to do this.  I’m also glad that Denovali is releasing the new ICE record, I’ve been working with them as Oneirogen since 2012, and if that makes it easier for people to experience these different sides of my work, that’s a good thing.  I would say that the themes stay the same, regardless of style. All of the music, titles, lyrics, and imagery deal with personal spiritual experience, mythology, mysticism, etc.  It’s an endless subject, and writing music for me is part of a spiritual practice.  Sonically speaking, the electronic music is definitely a bridge.  There are certain sounds and approaches that I use in all the projects….sub bass, “shimmering” sounds that fluctuate continuously, certain types of distortion, and formal structures that can suggest an abstract narrative over time, which for me relates to personal transformation, mythological themes of death and rebirth, etc.  When I hear music, it’s a synesthetic experience, its both visual and physical, and I am drawn to sounds that I feel are charged with an inner life.  Tone color, harmony, melody, rhythm, all the elements serve this in my music.  I love this quote by Iancu Dumitrescu: “You could say that the use of distortion in the sound comes from the attempt to reveal the god that is living in every piece of base matter.”  When first I read that, it changed the way I thought about metal and noise.

AT: The hardcore community spirit is so strong - do you find yourself gravitating towards other composers with similar backgrounds? Who are they?

MDdL: Yeah, for sure!  There is a “core” of people I’m involved with whose work overlaps with metal, avant rock, electronic music and classical composition.  But more important than background is attitude – intensity, urgency, imagination.  MV Carbon, Doron Sadja, Toby Driver, Jeremiah Cymerman, Charlie Looker, Andrew Hock, Nick Podgurski, Mick Barr, Mahir Cetiz, Sam Pluta, Steve Lehman, Jay King, Nate Young, and John Zorn are some people in my community who inspire me a lot.

AT: What other pieces or composers do you hope to be programmed alongside? If you were to (hypothetically) curate an ICE concert which included Luciform, what would it look like?

MDdL: If it was for an ICE concert, it would be something like “Paths of Resistance” by Jason Eckardt, “Acmed” by Mick Barr, “Landscape of Fear” by Marcos Balter, “Machine Language” by Sam Pluta, “Okanagon” by Scelsi, and “Paradies” by Stockhausen.  

AT: What's your next project? Any dream projects with ICE (let's publish them online so they have to happen!)?

MDdL: I’ll have a week of concerts at The Stone from August 11th – 16th, which is a retrospective of my work from 1999 to the present.  Part of that is the album release show for the new album with ICE, on August 11th, with Kivie, Josh, and Claire.  Then finishing up the first EP of Luminous Vault, which is a metal band I started with Andrew Hock.  Oneirogen releases a new EP in September and then tours Europe in the first two weeks of October.  The first Luminous Vault show is at Martyrdoom Festival in early November, here in Brooklyn at Saint Vitus.  I’m also writing a new work for TAK Ensemble, my first with soprano voice.

There’s been some talk about recording a third album with ICE sometime next year, we still have pieces which are unreleased.  Beyond that I would love to write a new large ensemble work for the group at some point, a few solo + electronic pieces for oboe and harp, and it would be great to travel and do some sets of this music at European festivals.