Monday, December 15, 2008

Michael Gordon and Bill Morrison

Over at Feast of Music, Peter Matthews has a nice write-up of a recent Michael Gordon concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM):

Lightning at our feet sets nearly a dozen Dickinson poems in a 90 minute program that felt more like an indie rock show than a piece of musical theater. Gordon left his usual battery of industrial noise at home, employing a modest, chamber-sized ensemble that played electronics, modified strings, piano and percussion. Stunning, dreamlike projections filled the stage, using both film and live-channel video that looked like something Bill Viola might conjure (especially the video for I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, which showed Charles floating slow-motion in a churning pool of water.)

The most famous Michael Gordon/Bill Morrison collaboration is Decasia, in which Gordon's music accompanies projections of decaying film stock collected and compiled by Morrison.

I saw Decasia in September 2004 at St. Ann's Warehouse. That concert featured the Tactus Contemporary Ensemble playing on two levels of scaffolding behind a scrim on which the film was being projected. The audience sat in the middle of the audio and visual cacophony. It was a rather amazing performance. (You can find Allan Kozinn's review here.)

Previous to that, in May 2004, I had seen a performance at Merkin Concert Hall as part of a Michael Gordon festival that featured the Michael Gordon Band accompanying several films by Bill Morrison. The images from those films -- an extended piece in which the camera jumped into the East River and traveled along with the waves and a foot-level film of one city block over time, among others -- have always stuck in my head. (When I had the pleasure of interviewing Bill Morrison on WKCR's Live from Miller Theatre in January 2006 in advance of another Gordon/Morrison show at Merkin, he complimented my visual memory, but those films were just hard to forget.)

Here is their collaboration Light is Calling:

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