In February, Bang On A Can, originally a fest but now an international experimental music organization, is releasing its first studio album in five years by the Bang On A Can All-Stars. Titled Big Beautiful Dark and Scary, the double album features the All-Stars — currently: Ashley Bathgate, cello; Robert Black, bass; Vicky Chow, piano; David Cossin, percussion; Mark Stewart, electric guitar; and Evan Ziporyn, clarinets — performing works by Bang’s founding members (Julia Wolfe, David Lang, and Michael Gordon), as well as pieces by Conlon Nancarrow, Louis Andriessen, Kate Moore, and, yes, Mr. David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors.
That’s right. In 2009, while you were busy listening to Bitte Orca (TMT Review) and watching bootleg videos of Dirty Projectors’ collaboration with Björk (TMT Review), the All-Stars premiered three new works by Longstreth — “Instructional Video,” “Matt Damon,” and “Breakfast at J&M” — all commissioned by Bang On A Can. This put Longstreth in the company of composers like Alvin Lucier, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, John Adams, Ornette Coleman, and Matthew Shipp, for whom Bang On A Can has commissioned and/or premiered pieces.
The All-Stars have since went into the studio to record Longstreth’s compositions for the new double album, and we’re streaming the longest of the three, “Matt Damon,” for the next month or so. In addition to some new Longstreth arrangements that are somewhat reminiscent of the jerky musical narratives in The Getty Address (Dirty Projectors’ 2005 glitch opera), you’ll also hear some direct musical quotations from a track off the group’s 2007 album, Rise Above. Listen to find out which one! Meanwhile, Big Beautiful Dark and Scary is still available for free, so grab it before January 25 or purchase a copy through Cantaloupe when it “hits shelves” on February 28.