On January 17th, I was summoned via Facebook to the Broad for an opening. Advertised somewhat mysteriously, all I knew about the event was that the artist would ‘be present.’ The Facebook invite stated that the artist is a Louisiana-born, New York-based artist who is interested in non-traditional materials. With my interest peaked, and my hipster glasses all shined up and ready to go, I went to the opening and was hardly disappointed.
I wanted to bookend the show with drums. Starting small, ending large, I decided I’d perform Rebonds a+b at the top of show, and to finish with Peaux to end with the proverbial ‘bang’ — moreover, MSU’s percussion studio was familiar with the piece, as we had just played it at PASIC on our showcase concert, and the year (or so) prior. Much less, the two pieces support the story of the show perfectly; Rebonds is such an orderly work, it gives the audience a taste of Xenakis’ skilled hand at the handling of ‘data’, and shows them his ability to sculpt a grid of math-y procedural tendencies into dramatic, even tragic grooves for the drums. At the other end of the show, Peaux IS “Xenakis the mythological” — the sheer sight of 45-some drums and the sound of them, much less… it’s enough to make ones head burst, but there’s something so visceral and cool about ‘drumming’ that the public just seems to get. In terms of numbers, here we also get a taste of Xenakis’ organizational procedures with poly-rhythms as they’re superimposed over each other. But also we feel the wrath of his more terrible side, in (what we called) the “Donkey Kong Section” – where we simply pound savagely away on the lowest two drums in each of our drum-sets —it’s really freaking cool, not sure how else to say it.