About the Music
What Jeff Parker, LJ White, and Murat Colak – three otherwise very different musicians – seem to share are practices that span or genre-defy in ways that are often pretended to but rarely achieved. Jeff Parker's biography describes him as "one of contemporary music's most versatile and innovative electric guitarists and composers." Murat Colak's biography says he's a "composer, producer, and audio engineer" while LJ White's bio doesn't bother labelling him in a particular way, but rather says that his music "serves ideals of direct, focused and socially relevant expression, assimilating an unrestricted array of influences through strange and evocative sonorities and rhythms, concise gestures, and apposite forms."
The three works contained here were written for and premiered by Ensemble Dal Niente, whose mission statement is, in its corner of the world, "to advance the artform and to connect listeners to the music of today:' If experimental, jazz, pop, electronic, and classical music are fixed genres (they are not), this music, with roots branching from many of these places, exists among and between those genres. It's music that is spacious, that is dense, that thumps or floats. It's music that samples other music, that transports us through place, past, and future. More personally, we believe the practices of these three musicians are an honest reflection of what it is like to be an artist in the world today. To be an artist is not to do, or be, one thing; rather, it is to attempt to synthesize the world through a lens that is at once unique and shared.
Water on Glass
Water On Glass is a recontextualization of a piece that I recorded some years back as part of a film score. The original was assembled by editing together chordal pads that I created on electric guitar with a digital delay and some filtering. At the time, I was making music that was very influenced by Vladimir Ussachevsky's Film Music from the 1960s (recorded at Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center), and musique concrete. I had been thinking about ways that I could expand upon this work for years-and when the opportunity arose to compose for Dal Niente, it was also an opportunity for me to pick up where I'd left off with Water On Glass. I was absolutely blown away by their unique sound and group dynamic, as well as their dedication to helping me realize this work-as much of the way that I achieve compositional finality is through a process of trial and error. It is an honor and an absolute joy to work with Ensemble Dal Niente.
-Jeff Parker, December 2021
We Don't Eat Dead Things
We Don't Eat Dead Things was commissioned by Ensemble Dal Niente with support from the Des Moines Civic Music Association and was premiered in Des Moines in spring 2017. A feature of the commission was that the piece should be based on music bythe Des Moines indie rock artist Christopher the Conquered. I ended up creating a work loosely structured after the song "I'm Not That Famous Yet," with text culled together from a large selection of Christopher's lyrics. Like "I'm Not That Famous Yet," We Don't Eat Dead Things is a sort of processional march, with a single motive winding through the whole piece, forwards and backwards and through different transformations. It's also an exercise in shuffling musical/stylistic, textual, and physical objects out of their usual context, and piecing them back together in a strange conglomerate with its own expressive possibilities.
-LJ White, December 2021
The swan is an elegant creature floating on the water, alone. It has vibe, it has power. In Islamic art, animals are only meaningful because they 'are,' because they exist as realized visions of the Creator. I too am uninterested in the narrativity of my images: I am simply and singularly interested in their beauty.
SWAN is about going out: to the street, to the club, to a ritual, to a party or funeral. It's about going to places where people sing, dance, laugh, cry, perform, celebrate, and connect. SWAN's aesthetic is a blend of Turkish/Islamic and pop elements: drone, ambient, trance-pop, dub-tech no. It is ritual music. It is the soundtrack to a club for the wasted, to emotional after-hours karaoke, to a huge, postapocalyptic mosque. It ends with a highly processed tilavet (the Swan) which was recorded during a funeral ceremony in the summer of 2016.
The electronics give SWAN its world. But this world is lifeless without the performers' presence. Dal Niente are the life in the Swan-world; they are the force that makes it a real place, that turns the maquette to real music. This is fancy music: it is pop, it is beautiful, it is like a swan. In this sense, I think SWAN embodies the power I see in the iconography that inspired it.
-Murat Çolak, December 2021