New Amsterdam Records has a reputation for taking risks with lesser-known cutting-edge musicians and giving them a chance to really shine. The label last night launched a new monthly series call Archipelago at Galapagos Art Space in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn. New Amsterdam tested the waters, so to speak, in the spring with a short series dubbed Undiscovered Islands. The new series ‘ name continues the water-land theme (appropriate at a venue where some of the seats appear to float in a pool of water).
There’s plenty of self-interest involved, as virtually all of the Archipelago performers are New Amsterdam artists. But because the label has such an interesting mix of talented performers, there’s little chance of a dud.
The series kicked off last night with a set by one of the label’s most inventive and skilled artists, violist Nadia Sirota, and the percussion quartet Line C3. The six-year-old quartet (Haruka Fujii, John Ostrowski, Eric Poland, and Chris Thompson) doesn’t appear to be on New Amsterdam’s roster — though I wouldn’t be surprised if that were in the works — and I was not familiar with them before last night.
The performers mixed it up, playing together and separately throughout the all-too-short program. Nadia kicked off the evening with the premiere of Future Shock by New Amsterdam co-director William Brittelle, a percolating blend of Nadia’s viola and electronics. Line C3 took the stage to perform a 2004 piece written for the quartet by Nico Muhly, Ta and Clap.
Go to the jump to see Line C3’s video of Ta and Clap and read more about last night’s show.
Here’s Line C3’s video of a Ta and Clap. The setup onstage at Galapagos last night was a bit different, but you get a very good sense of the piece from this.
Nico joined Nadia on piano for his composition Keep in Touch, a nicely modulated piece for viola and electronics that features the voice of Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons). Nadia also performed a Gershwinesque OMFG with its composer, Our Lady J, on the piano.
The evening featured several humorous pieces. OMG, a new work written for Nadia and Line C3 by Marcos Balter, offered a chuckle when the audience realized that the quartet would be performing on iPhones rather than drums or marimbas. If you’re scratching your head about the iPhones, just think of them as triggers for sounds, not as unique musical instruments, and you’ll get the picture.
And then there was the clever final number, Serving Size 4 Bunnies, a piece by Carl Schimmel that involves soap bubbles and policeman’s whistle in addition to the quartet’s conventional percussion. The title was lifted from the nutritional label on a package of marshmallow bunnies.