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Originally posted on December 30, 2010

Dither played Abrons Art Center earlier this month, performing new and “incubating” works written or arranged for the electric guitar quartet, who performed with their usual virtuosic ease.  See clips from the concert in the video above.

First on the set was Eve Beglarian’s Garden of Cyrus, which was originally written in 1985 for electronics in the twelve tone technique of composition.  Newly arranged for Dither, this engrossing piece gives the impression of bright strands of sound alternately aligning and going out of synch with each other.

Next came Ted Hearne’s Aberrations, a work in progress that will eventually be about an hour long and separated into movements.  Intricately fashioned, prominent in this movement is the creation of a single line whose individual notes are played in succession by each of the four guitarists.  Devilishly tricky to play (though Dither rose to the occasion with aplomb), splitting up the line in this way gives it an intriguing three-dimensional quality.

Nick Didkovsky’s expansive, expressive Vox Requiem followed.  The full title is Vox Requiem in Memoriam Ronny James Dio, and was inspired by the singer’s unique vocal quality.  Written in the style of minimalist-concert-piece-meets-heavy-metal-epic, the piece’s sweeping melodies were clearly reminiscent of the vehement passion of Dio’s singing style.

Last on the set was a workshop version of Tristan Perich’s Interference Logic for electric guitar quartet and one-bit multichannel system.  The six speakers of the multichannel system acted as a sort of second group, with Dither at times not playing at all while the one-bit group played “solo.”  The rhythmic, repetitive nature of the music and the interplay between Dither and the one-bit sounds reaped an  intense, vivid sound.

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Originally posted on September 10, 2010

“Since we’re in an organ loft, we thought we’d play you some organ music.”  So electric guitar quartet Dither began their set on Friday night, the opening show in the series Music at First, playing their own arrangement of a dolefully quiescent organ piece by Arvo Pärt.  Next came a work by Ches Smith, using a rough and clangy guitar effect, which was fitting for music that sounded like machinery in motion.

Dither’s own Joshua Lopes wrote the next piece, which sounded clear and bright, and out of whose hocket textures arose bold, sweeping melodies.  Lisa Coons’ “Prolix” (reviewed previously on kleineKultur here) featured dense textures created by the four guitarists recording loops live and then playing over them.  Getting to watching the mechanical act of loop-recording—always on the cue of one of the guitarists—while listening to the piece was just plain cool.

Last on the set was Wil Smith’s fulminating “Telegraph,” for three electric guitars and electric bass, whose fast strumming and visceral gestures built in intensity until at the end it became like a rising panic; and just when reconciliation to this acute state began, the piece abruptly ended.

Originally posted on June 8, 2010

What is a Dither, you ask?  It is four guys and their electric guitars, and this is their debut CD:

The album opens with Lainie Fefferman’s “Tongue of Thorns,” which begins almost inaudibly, with low grumbling and ethereal, aperiodic plucking.  This is followed by rhythmic strumming that creates a gritty bed out of which strands of individuated sound attempt to rise, finally attaining freedom from the bed in short screams (it really does sound like a person screaming at first).

Jascha Narveson’s “Vectors” is best listened to with headphones, as each of the four guitars are panned to place you in the middle of the quartet. Energetic moments replete with bouncing, bending notes alternate with moments of formless impassivity.

Dither really show their prowess in the opening of Joshua Lopes’ “Panatagruel,” as they play simultaneously an intrepid melody with flawless agility.  What follows sounds like the soundtrack to a fever dream, building in intensity through most of the piece, a fragment of the opening melody returning briefly before a feedback-adorned final chord.

The most abstract-sounding piece on the album, Lisa R. Coons’ four-part “Cross-sections” explores the sound possibilities of an electric guitar quartet with a variety of recondite gestures, from the siren sounds in “Aphonia,” to the shimmering, accordion-like tones in “Prolix.”

Eric km Clark’s “exPAT” might be the most disquieting piece of music you’ll ever hear.  The piece begins with a vigorous, dense texture; about two minutes in, the pace slows, each guitar’s drugged-sounding repeated melody bumping into the others’ at unpredictable points.  Not for long, though, as the texture grows into a thick bramble, and the pace quickens.  At about the seventh minute, the bottom end disappears, and each guitar plays high repeating patterns that trick the ear into hearing them as collectively swooping ever upwards in a vertiginous dash to the end.

Electric guitar quartet Dither celebrate the release of their CD on June 12 at the Invisible Dog

Originally posted on May 29, 2009

Playing a grand piano-shaped toy piano, Asami Tamura opened her concert Friday night with an impassioned and raucous performance of Invention No. 1 by J.S. Bach.  Intriguing about the performance was the disconnect between the extremely precise nature of the piece and the equally imprecise nature of the instrument, inside which the hammers (controlled by the keys) often and easily strike more than one metal bar by accident.
There followed a Suite for Toy Piano by John Cage—“I think you will find them similar” Tamura said of the Cage and Bach pieces—Kreisler’s gloomy  Liebesleid (“Feel melancholy about it!”), and a work by Yoshinao Nakata, also on a sad theme, “The Departing Spring.”
After a blazing performance of Mozart’s athletic “Rondo all turca,” the latter half of which was played from memory when a gust of wind blew down Tamura’s music, the audience was asked to leave the Cafe due to a small fire in the basement of the building.  Tamura reportedly finished out her concert later that night after a team of firemen deemed the Cafe safe.

Originally posted on May 31, 2009

Eric km Clark‘s exPAT: Deprivation Music No. 4, performed by electric guitar quartet Dither and 8 other electric guitarists, filled the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden with a sound like a pipe organ being played at full volume.  The guitarists were each wearing headphones piping out white noise (hence the “deprivation”), such that no player could hear the other.  The result was an impressive, undulating wash of patterns, and the children present at the marathon either danced excitedly, or plugged up their ears as they were rushed from the audience.