σ – a new piece by Todd Lerew

Todd Lerew is an artist whose work has interested me due to its focus on objects. This can mean the treatment of a traditional instrument as such (an object), or the pedestrian one (smoke alarms, road flares, megaphones, etc.). There is a utilitarian quality present throughout his work in which one can see anything and everything as potentially useful.

I approached Todd about releasing an album with FWD: rcrds and he came back with the idea of a piece where two recordings are played against each other. Besides appreciating the obvious potential for a recording in which a repeat-performance is almost impossible and the rejection of the idea of the recording as a “perfect version”, I grew more excited about the idea as I thought about the strict treatment of the recording as an object which would force the listener out of a passive role and into an active one. With the final product of two compact discs, the listener must decide on playback mechanisms, location, and timing (offset of recordings). All of these decisions are present in the usual playback experience, but are typically based on habit and convenience. In this case each element must be considered. And then, of course, the material must be considered as well. In the words of the composer: “The material on each disc – a recording of a clock ticking followed by a long tone – is apparently identical to that of the other disc when they are played individually or in succession; the contour of their divergence becomes evident only when they are played simultaneously.”

The piece is simply titled “σ”, which in statistics, represents a variable’s standard deviation. It is available for purchase directly from FWD: rcrds.

FWD: rcrds and new album

a long-overdue intro to a new project:

FWD: rcrds is a collaborative project started with Aaron Foster Bresley, a fellow composer based in NYC. The spawning idea is simple: not only to have a platform to share our own music and the music of other emerging artists, but to advance a dialogue, or at least more of a spotlight, between artists and listeners alike dealing with those foundational ideas in our music which are too often left unmentioned/undiscussed (to name just a few: the politics of composition/performance, the so-called ‘artifice’ of recording, just what do we mean by ‘silence’?, etc.).

Our debut release was a split of Bresley’s and my music. I recorded a version of two sections from my ‘incomplete polyrhythms’ piece, a catalog-style score consisting only of numbers—leaving the musical translation to be decided entirely by the performer(s). In this case I chose two of my favorite sections (2/1 and 3/3) and contrasted two simple conceptions of a rhythmic group (slow/fast, sparse/dense). Bresley’s piece for piano, sine tones, paper/saw, and field recording is too difficult for me to capture in words: well worth your time. I can’t say what is going on, but my mind is racing (in the best possible way) when listening to that piece.

You can stream and/or purchase the album here.

We quickly followed up that release with an album by Christoffer Schunk. If you have never heard his freakishly beautiful vocalizations (it’s hard to believe that almost all those voices are just one person), do it now.

Find us on Facebook and Soundcloud if you’d like to stay up-to-date and/or say hi!

Chekhov in Vermont

I have had the pleasure of working with Randolyn Zinn and The Living Room Theatre on a few projects. They have developed their own type of site-specific theatre at the Park McCullough House in North Bennington, VT over the past couple summers. I have contributed music for this summer’s production of Chekhov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’. The score sets abstracts from Bartók, Scriabin, and Russian folk tunes against field recordings and various types of resonators and feedback engines.

Opens July 31. Reservations required.

Click here for tickets and info.

“Something about my Punctuation”

A new piece for two writers will be presented this Friday at the wulf, along with new pieces by Todd Lerew, Chris Schunk, and Danny Wood. The piece utilizes excerpts from Søren Kierkegaard’s diaries including an entry labeled: “Something about my Punctuation” (1847), which discusses something of K’s unusual rhetorical style.

8 pm
the wulf
1026 s santa fe ave #203
los angeles, ca

premiere: Isaura String Quartet

The Isaura String Quartet will premiere my string quartet, ‘rhythm color #3—fiction’ at a concert of new works by LA composers on Saturday, April 5 at SPACE Arts Center in South Pasadena.

Other composers on the program include: Morgan Gerstmar, Jules Gimbrone, and Gustavo Uribe.

Saturday, April 5, 2014, 8 pm
SPACE Arts Center
1506 Mission Street
South Pasadena, CA 91030

The rhythm color pieces explore harmony as a function of time. While the first two deal with the standard rhythmic metric, #3 deals with time as a function of counting/calculation (individual) and power dynamics (group). Dealing with the Pythagorean tuning relationships between the five pitch classes of the open strings of the quartet (C, G, D, A, E), the players are presented with a grid-like score of pitches/numbers; each cell with the instruction to be either played, not played, or left to the players to decide.

show at the wulf: 2.22.14

presenting a selection of tactics and strategies in counting;


    • sections from ‘incomplete polyrhythms’
    • ‘groups, no. 1’
    • a round for Andy Young

Todd Lerew will perform his ‘yielding isometrics’ for theremin.

Saturday, 2.22.14, 8pm

1026 s. santa fe ave. #203, los angeles, ca, 90021