Composer Daniel Wohl, whom you are probably familiar with from pieces covered on this blog, had a few minutes to talk about his CD debut Corps Exquis and the release party for it on June 4th at 8 PM, presented by Ear Heart Music at Brooklyn’s Roulette.
The show will feature a full-length multimedia performance of Corps Exquis by acclaimed new music quintet TRANSIT and Wohl on electronics as well as video pieces inspired by each track that were created by some of today’s most accomplished visual artists: Antoine Catala, Alexis Gambis, Satan’s Pearl Horses, Andrew Steinmetz & Teddy Stern, Brina Thurston, and Yui Kugimiya.
Wohl’s music is performed by TRANSIT on the disc as well (out June 25th on New Amsterdam Records, more info here), which also features guest performances by Aaron Roche, Julia Holter and Sō Percussion.
The concert will also feature a set by Nadia Sirota, who will perform selections from her critically-acclaimed recent solo album, Baroque (also on New Amsterdam Records). Missy Mazzoli will join Sirota for a rendition of Mazzoli’s composition “Tooth and Nail”. This performance marks the first time since the release of Baroque that these two will share a stage.
CM: Please talk about the new album, which I am thoroughly enjoying at the moment.
Daniel W: For the past several years, I’ve been working on bringing electronics and acoustic instruments together in a way that makes sense to me. It sounds like an obvious statement for a composer to make, but I love interesting sounds – and I don’t want to limit myself to just those produced by acoustic instruments. That said I also love the organic quality and warmth of instruments, and the immediacy of live performance, and I think that there is a way to bring computer generated sounds into that same world. Most of the electronic sounds on the album are produced by processing acoustic instruments – percussion, cello, violin etc…in order to compliment and distort their natural timbres.
CM: It sounds like this is a perfect set of music for Transit. Can you talk about working with them and the other guests on the recording?
Daniel W: I’ve been writing for Transit for a few years now. Recently I’ve been writing alot for other groups, so it’s always fun to collaborate with people who know you and have played your music over the years. As far as the guest artists on the record, Aaron Roche and I are good friends, and he’s a terrific musician and singer, so it was fun to get a chance to get some of his vocals on “323”. Around when I was starting to mix the album I was also beginning a collaborative project with Julia Holter for the Ecstatic Music Festival. I love her voice, and I thought it would work well for “Corpus”, the last track on the album. I asked her to send me some recordings of her singing the main melody, and then I cut it up and reset it around the original string parts.
CM: Would you say New Music as a genre is evolving each day? I think that this recording is an example of that–Your music is so fluid in nature!
Daniel W: I think that New Music as a genre is in perpetual motion. It’s a genre that’s truly open and allows for anything to occur. New Music audiences have seen a lot over the years – and nothing can really shock them- which for a composer is extremely freeing. What I think is great today though is that there is no misguided sense that this music is evolving in a linear way – that there is a progression towards a “greater” music. To me it seems that composers and performers are exploring various aspects of the genre without any hierarchal approach.
CM: What can you tell us about the multimedia collaboration at the CD release show, and what is that like to see as a composer?
Daniel W: Initially, before Corps Exquis was an album, it was a multimedia project commissioned by the American Composers Forum. New York is full of video artists, and I was always surprised that our worlds had so much in common and yet our scenes seemed largely oblivious to one another. I wanted to start a project in which I could collaborate with visual artists and see how their individual aesthectics and visions would interact with the music. We decided we would build a multimedia monster – each video is very abstractly based on a part of the body–and piece by piece we built this hour long exquisite corpse project out of their disparate aesthetics.
CM: I really enjoy listening to the pieces you wrote for some of our artists in New York like “One Piece” for Two Sense and “St. Arc” for Mariel Roberts. Do you like to hear if there are changes as these works are played by different performers?
Daniel W: Definitely! I’ve found that performers emphasize various aspects of a piece. Some will bring out a melodic aspect that I wasn’t even aware was there, and another will make the same part gritty. It’s always fun to have another person bring their voice to something you wrote.