November 5, 2013

Bryce Dessner records with Kronos Quartet, plays Carnegie Hall

The National’s Bryce Dessner is a man of a million projects, constantly generating material for his various musical identities, the latest of which is a new record, entitled Aheym for the Anti- label. Here, we actually see him sidestepping the guitar in favor of a string quartet and when we say STRING QUARTET we mean for it to be in all caps. Bryce has "gone big" and composed these pieces for one of the most widely-acclaimed contemporary classical ensembles out there, Kronos Quartet.

Also a Brassland co-founder and member of Clogs, Bryce has been an indie rock star by day and contemporary classical composer by night for a long time now. Well, actually, maybe we should say that he's an indie rock star by night and contemporary classical composer by day — because The National hasn't done any matinee shows yet except for the occasional festival. But we digress...

Bryce's projects are so disparate and unexpected that no one realizes he is actually a Superman/Clark Kent-like figure and that the same man is behind it all, forcing Dessner to hide his identity in the contemporary classical circuit through a series of comically elaborate ruses. (Actually we’re kidding about that part, it’s just a TV show pitch we’re working on. Cue laugh track.)

We'll stop digressing now. Here's a sample from the Kronos record with animations by artist Matthew Ritchie.

The thing is, we were not kidding when we alluded to Bryce's super powers. On top of the Kronos Quartet release, Bryce has been an unusually active (super powered?) presence on the fancy venue circuit recently. He played guitar on composer David Lang's death speaks album alongside peers & Brassland buddies Nico Muhly, Shara Worden and Owen Pallett. Check out this sample:

Upcoming is a composed work for the quartet So Percussion called “Music for Wood and Strings,” which will be premiering at New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall later this month. The piece was written for instruments designed and constructed in collaboration with Aron Sanchez of Brassland’s very own Buke and Gase.

Original composition for equally original instruments? If you don't think that sounds like something worth checking out, then you can just head aheym.

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