June Selectionsby Brad Cohan
June 2–16: Female Composers Festival at Spectrum. We seem to be entering, fortunately, and era when performances of women composers are in no way remarkable, at least for contemporary figures. But there’s still catching up to do, and these two weeks at Spectrum—international in scope—will go some ways towards bringing out overlooked works from the past, and introduce new voices.
June 5: Hot Snakes at Elsewhere (Hall). Fourteen-odd years since their last record, Brooklyn/San Diego noise-punk flamethrowers Hot Snakes pile on the hard-charging riffs and hoarse-throated wails as if their lives depended on it on the newly-dropped Jericho Sirens. Born from the ashes of 1990s-era mathy post-hardcore heroes Drive Like Jehu, vocalist/guitarist Rick Froberg and fellow six-stringer John Reis first debuted Hot Snakes nearly two decades ago with three albums in four years, only to break up then reunite in 2010 for random festival appearance, and now make their triumphant and very noisy return.
June 7–8: NNA Tapes Showcase (as part of Northside Festival) at Union Pool and at Film Noir Cinema. The NNA Tapes label has been the epicenter for musicians pioneering new-music trails and the showcase they are putting on as part of the Northside Festival is a tour-de-force across two epic nights. From Simon Haines’s Morricone-influenced Spaghetti Western-noir troupe Tredici Bacci, the synth-pop experimentation of Ryan Power, Kalbells, and Erica Eso on the inaugural evening, to the next night when each artist’s performance will be accompanied by cinematic projections, featuring the likes of Dawn of Midi drummer Qasim Naqvi and sound designer/composer Lea Bertucci, percussionist and electronic producer Jake Meginsky, and harpist Marilu Donovan (of LEYA), the bulk of NNA Tapes roster of deep thinkers are represented.
June 7: Bill Orcutt, Tashi Dorji, Joe McPhee at Issue Project Room. Three visionaries with their own language of Americana, American Primitive, and free jazz come together for an evening of spaced-out plucking and gale-force blasts. In Harry Pussy, Bill Orcutt helped put noise music on the map before reinventing himself as mangled guitar deconstructionist of The Great American Songbook and Ornette Coleman; Bhutanese guitarist Tashi Dorji channels John Fahey and Derek Bailey with a finger-picking prowess that is mind-rattling; and jazz giant Joe McPhee continues to blaze new improvised music trails. There will be two separate duo sets before a firestorm erupts as the three join forces.
June 7: Blank Forms Presents: Jakob Ullmann’s Müntzer’s stern at San Damiano Mission. The majestically cavernous San Damiano Mission promises a sublime backdrop as French bassoonist Dafne Vicente-Sandoval performs the New York premiere debut of this quiet, long-form work by her collaborator, minimalist composer and organist and Jakob Ullmann.
June 7: Makato Ozone at [Japan Society](Makoto Ozone: Jazz Virtuoso). This marvelous pianist is best know for his jazz playing, but as a 2014 appearance playing Rhapsody in Blue with the New York Philharmonic proved, he can do pretty much everything. His last solo appearance here was in 1985, so consider this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
June 8: LPRX: Pt. Krishna Bhatt & Gyan Riley at (le) poisson rouge. (le) poisson rouge’s month-long, ten-year celebration continues with this pairing of musical minds: legendary sitar player and Ravi Shankar disciple Pt. Krishna Bhatt and classical guitar maestro and son of minimalist composer Terry Riley, Gyan Riley. Expect string-bending soundscapes of the most transcendent order as they will perform original compositions based on ragas from the Hindustani classical tradition.
June 9: Dan Graham and Glenn Branca: Collaborations at Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI). On May 13, no wave pioneer and iconoclastic symphonist Glenn Branca passed away from throat cancer. The indelible mark Branca left with seminal records like 1980’s Lesson No. 1, and the following year’s The Ascension and Indeterminate Activity of Resultant Masses paved the way for bands like Sonic Youth, as he created the blueprint for the intersection of extreme-rock using unconventional guitar tunings and brutal symphonic dissonance. Here, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) presents a video program of Dan Graham’s collaborations with Branca.
June 10–11: Ten Years Together: New Amsterdam Records & (le) poisson rouge Turn 10. The monumentally adventurous catalog that vanguard label New Amsterdam Records has amassed over its decade-long arc is new-music at its most groundbreaking. That rich output is celebrated over two nights as part of the ten-year anniversary celebrations of both New Amsterdam and Greenwich Village music hub (le) poisson rouge, with an introductory discussion by William Robin and the label co-founders about the history of the label followed by performances from Sufi musician Arooj Aftab, vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, and classically-trained singer and pianist Olivia Chaney, who rings in the release of Shelter (via Nonesuch Records). The following evening is a doozy as spazzy art-rockers Deerhoof, percussive troupe Tigue, and the technical metal-leaning avant-jazz duo Subtle Degrees will burn up the LPR stage.
June 10: Boss Hog and Taiwan Housing Project at Zone One at Elsewhere. The downtown NYC noise rock resurgence rages on with the improbable comebacks of Unsane, the recent iteration of Live Skull, and now Boss Hog. Back in 2016, vocalist Cristina Martinez and her husband, guitarist/singer Jon Spencer rebooted the beloved Boss Hog sixteen years after their last full-length with Brood X, an epically scuzzy chunk of bluesy noise-punk raunch that showed these two in still the grimiest of form.
June 12–16: James Ilgenfritz Stone Residency 2018. The pliable force of which bassist/composer James Ilgenfritz operates manifests itself on the batch of stellar recordings he’s served as leader or in cooperative groups over the last several years. Essential are his solo set Origami Cosmos, jazz/rock trio Hypercolor’s self-titled effort, upcoming trio record Opalescence with Norbert Rodenkirchen and Robbie Lee and Altamirage, and a just-announced duo record with the late great minimalist pioneer, Pauline Oliveros. Ilgenfritz’s allover aesthetic will be on display at his Stone residency, culminating with world premiere performances of recent compositions with The Anagram Ensemble, a collective he led on his William Burroughs-inspired cut-up opera, The Ticket That Exploded.
June 14-September 20: Live at the Archway series Under the Manhattan Bridge Archway. Both backdrop and music will be spectacular as Live at the Archway, a fifteen-week-long concerts and events series held at 6pm Under the Manhattan Bridge Archway, kicks off its summer run. June is packed as the series opens with Ljova and the Kontraband and an opening set in the Pearl Street Triangle by the all-female Brazilian drumline FogulAzul NYC (June 14) followed the next week by Thievery Corporation’s Natalia Clavier (June 21) and Afro-Colombian musical ensemble Grupo Rebolu (June 28).
June 14: Brandon Seabrook’s Die Trommel Fatale with the Eva Salina & Peter Stan Duo at Nublu. As stalwart of the Brooklyn avant underground, guitar speed demon Brandon Seabrook is a shredding improviser who draws from metal, jazz, classical music and prog-rock. Last year, Seabrook improbably melded all those elements on Die Trommel Fatale, an ambitious sprawl that features a twin-drummer attack, cello, electronics, voice, and upright bass. A classical-meets-noise music opera of sorts, Seabrook and his large ensemble create a densely layered labyrinth that requires multiple listens to absorb its weird patterns and dizzying textures, mind-numbing riffs, operatic wails, and cymbals-less beats.
June 14-July 1: Modern Piano Festival at Spectrum. Continuing a month of exciting music at Spectrum, this festival features some of the finest musicians in (and outside), New York City. Ethan Iverson will play in duet with the excellent violinist Miranda Cuckson, and Margaret Leng Tan will be on the bill. But do set aside time to see Taka Kigawa and Reinier van Houdt, two poets of the contemporary keyboard.
June 15–16: Jason Palmer at the Jazz Gallery. Believe it or not, the world is full of superb jazz musicians. That’s a good thing, except for when one of the exceptional ones gets lost in the frustrating shuffle of too many groups and too few gigs. Boston-based trumpeter Jason Palmer is one of the exceptional ones, with the articulation of a Lee Morgan and the lyrical freedom of a Don Cherry. If that sounds too good to believe true, check him out these two nights at the Jazz Gallery, you will believe.
June 15–17: Freak Flag Festival at the Brooklyn Kitchen featuring Afternoon Freak (Mike Watt, Danny Frankel, & Matt Mottel). Keytar-slinging maestro Matt Mottel, Watt, and Frankel have teamed up to present Freak Flag Festival, a three-day, all ages spectacular of scorched-earth experimental music, visual art, film, and yummy food. A packed schedule of performers include pianist Cooper-Moore, improvising heavies Jessica Pavone, Sandy Ewen, and Laura Ortman, Ende Tymes Fest architect and noise music merchant Bob Bellerue, and many more are set to fill the weekend with otherworldly sounds across every musical spectrum. Not to be missed is FFF’s de facto headliner, Afternoon Freak, jam trio made up of Mottel, the legendary Watt, and percussionist Frankel whose debut, The Blind Strut, is a chilled-out slab of psych-jazz jams. As gleaming as the California sun where it was recorded, Mottel, Watt, and Frankel venture deep on organ and synthesizer-splattered ecstatic-jazz trips that channel Sun Ra psychedelia, the freewheeling noodling of Mottel’s own Talibam!, and the punk-jazziness of Watt’s Minutemen.
June 15–17: Chance & Circumstance Festival Presented by Ensemble Pamplemousse at JACK. Experimental performer/composer collective Ensemble Pamplemousse is just as cutting-edge in curating a festival as they are with their music making. At JACK they present three-day program focusing on solo artists bending instrumental tradition, from composed pieces to improvised sets, with a few duos and trios included for good measure. With performances by avant-gardists like John McCowen on solo contrabass clarinet, cellists Lester St. Louis and Leila Bordreuil, a premiere performance for trumpets by the duo of Jaimie Branch and Nate Wooley, and more, this festival is an absolute must-see.
June 15: Chaikin Records Label Launch: Drums & Drones Album Release with Ursula Scherrer, 13 Million Year Old Ghost, MV Carbon, and DJ JG Thirlwell at Mercury Lounge. Musical polymath Brian Chase is a mainstay in both the free improvisation and rock lexicons. The forward thinking percussionist is not just a longtime member of NYC post-punk institution Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but is all over the experimental map as an improviser who has teamed with such searchers of sound as Shelley Hirsch, Anthony Coleman, Thollem, and Ben Goldberg. Now Chase has launched his own label, Chaikin Records. This evening doubles as both label launch party and record release show celebrating the triple CD Drums & Drones: Decade, Chase’s minimalist percussiON explorations that were inspired by La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela’s legendary Dream House installation.
June 15: Marija Ilic at Daniel Goode’s Loft. Composer and clarinetist Daniel Goode continues to host stellar concerts at his Spring Street loft featuring stars of the new-music and contemporary classical movement here in New York City and beyond. Tonight features Belgrade native pianist Ilic performing the world premiere of a piece by composer Michael Vincent Waller, as well as pieces by Ryoko Akama, Miguel Frasconi, Leos Janaček, Helen Ottaway, and Goode.
June 16: Eartheater (Record Release) at H0L0. From the tripped-out mind of artist, composer, and production wizard Eartheater, a/k/a Alexandra Drewchin, comes IRISIRI, her newest brain-frying experimental sprawl. The sonic din Drewchin grinds out is an entrancing splattering of hip-hop, electronic music, psych-pop, and freak-folk that knows no stylistic boundaries.
June 17: Amirtha Kidambi: Lines of Light at Roulette. Vocalist and composer Amirtha Kidmabi is a wonder who has dazzled audiences with her entrancing and powerful blend of the poetic, spiritual, and abstract. That was manifested on a string of vital records that the singer, improviser, and harmonium player has both led and collaborated, on including, Holy Science by Elder Ones, Seaven Teares’ Power Ballads, The Oversoul Manual by Darius Jones, and most recently, Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl. Kidambi’s ascent reaches new heights as her 2018 Roulette residency continues with the world premiere of Lines of Light, a structured improvisation in which she will lead her avant all-star vocal quintet of Jean Carla Rodea, AnaÔs Maviel, Emilie Lesbros, and Charmaine Lee. Also on the bill is a fully-improvised voice/analog electronics duo performance pairing Kidambi with Lea Bertucci.
June 18: Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit & Anteloper at Pioneer Works. Rising trumpeter Jaimie Branch continues her residency at Red Hook’s sprawling Pioneer Works with Anteloper, her electro-jazz mind-blow of a duo she shares with drummer Jason Nazary. Kudu, released in April, is an ecstatic jumble of hip-hop-tweaked beats, glitch-heavy electronics and high-flying trumpet melodies. Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, best known as the heavy hitter in The Thing with Mats Gustafsson and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, headlines with his Large Unit.
June 22: Joel Harrison Presents Alternative Guitar Summit 2018: LPR Presents at Nublu 151: Jazz-Rock-Funk Throwdown with Harriet Tubman, Adam Rogers and DICE, Dave Fiuczynski Micro Kif Jamz, plus special guests. The 2018 edition of protean guitar head Joel Harrison’s three-day Alternative Guitar Summit is yet another jaw dropping showcase of unrivaled virtuosos of the six-string. There’s the invitational hosted by Americana-centric guitar godhead Bill Frisell (June 21), Across the Generations - First Time Duos (June 23) and a workshop with Frisell (June 23 at The Jazz Gallery). The main attraction is arguably the Jazz-Rock-Funk Throwdown where free jazz/rock fusionists Harriet Tubman (guitarist Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs, and drummer J.T. Lewis) will give the ultimate guitar clinic with their powerhouse brand of Ornette-meets-Hendrix mastery.
June 23: Sun Ra Arkestra at Union Pool. Sun Ra Arkestra ringleader and spiritual guiding light Marshall Allen just turned ninety-four years young and is showing no signs of slowing down as he leads this ecstatic jazz big-band. There’s nothing like a Sun Ra Arkestra performance and the last several years their shows at Union Pool as part of the free Summer Thunder Saturday daytime series has become an annual celebration where joyous spiritual jazz fills the air.
June 23: The Kitchen hosts a memorial for Z’EV. The musician Z’EV was an important pioneer of industrial music, but while true that misses so much about his artistry. Before his untimely death, he had been following a path of spacious, quiet, meditative performances meant to transcend time and place. His example will be honored by the likes of Elliott Sharp, Zach Layton, Shelley Hirsch + David Weinstein, Carl Stone, and many more.
June 27: White Out, Ted Reichman (accordion/electronics solo) and BLOOR at Wonders of Nature. For well over two decades, NYC’s White Out, the shapeshifting core duo of analog synthist Lin Culbertson and percussionist Tom Surgal, have explored unchartered sonic realms with their free-improvisational space-jazz soundscapes. White Out’s revolving door of collaborators has included such luminaries as Thurston Moore, Jim O’Rourke, and Nels Cline, so there’s no telling who will show up tonight to help them dig deep into their hypnotic experimental jazz. BLOOR, the noise-jazz trio made up of young saxophone firebrand Sam Weinberg, guitarist Andrew Smiley, and drummer Jason Nazary, open as they gear up for the release of their Astral Spirits Records debut in January of 2019. Accordionist and composer Ted Reichman completes this stellar bill curated by music scribe Clifford Allen as part of his ongoing and monthly cutting-edge music series.
June 28: To Live and Shave in LA, MOUTHUS, Unnatural Ways and more at Coney Island Baby. Experimental music noisemaker Tom Smith’s brainchild is an on/off again revolving door collective that has counted fellow hell raisers like Rat Bastard, Thurston Moore, Andrew W.K., Weasel Walter, Tim Dahl, and Nandor Nevai in its nihilistic fold, so you get the idea of the bruising that will be dished out. Expect nothing but a bat-shit noise maelstrom as Smith and Rat Bastard team up.
June 28: Lucia Cadotsch at Joe’s Pub. Glitchy, ghostly and roiling textures and patterns provided by saxophonist Otis Sandj and bassist Petter Eldh (Django Bates, etc) serve as the perfectly hypnotic tapestry for Swiss singer Lucia Cadotsch to take center stage and wield her magical voice. Cadotsch did just that on the acoustic retro-futuristic Speak Low, a dizzying set that spun new takes on old standards such as “Don’t Explain” and “Moon River.”
June 30: Pop 1280, Sediment Club, God is My Co-Pilot and Decisions at Alphaville. Clinking and clattering junk-fi crew The Sediment Club have been toiling around Brooklyn’s DIY scene for years, making mincemeat out of no wave and noise-rock. On their new jarring and supremely gnarly Stucco Thieves, their jagged bass-booming grooviness, Teenage Jesus-y six-string scratchiness, and Arto Lindsay-esque caterwauling is as in-your-face as ever. Also on the bill are legendary art-punks God Is My Co-pilot, continuing their unlikely comeback, and lo-fi noise-punks Decisions, whose recently-released slab The Weight of the World Leaves a Broken Back is a wailing slop of fuzzed-out bliss.
Brad Cohan is a music journalist based in Brooklyn who has contributed to Bandcamp, The Village Voice, NY Observer, Time Out NY, VICE, Noisey, SPIN, CLRVYNT, Red Bull Music Academy, and other fine publications.