Okay – are you moving around, even in the privacy of your own home/studio, as you make music? This producer is – and you can feel that commitment in the music.
One of the releases I’ve been most consistently excited about this year is the latest from Zoë Mc Pherson – atop her new AV platform/label SFX with director Alessandra Leone. States of Fugue is pure, kinetic energy – perpetual motion of irregularly-phrased rhythms, forceful shouts and percussion.
It does all of that without becoming tiresome or forced – all that fluid, polyrhythmic material is confident and direct, not cluttered. Then it finds moments to be murmuring and reflective (“Power fluids”), to dig into delicate futurism (“Taste”) and find other truly fresh avenues. I’ve known Zoë round about the European scene for a while, so I appreciate even more that this epic work gestated and tumbled out like this.
But, oh yeah – the topic of dancing. A weird trope seemed to emerge in my promo inbox where a bunch of electronic music producers seemed to tout their productions with some dancer alone in a room flapping around in vague modern dance moves. This is better than that for various reasons, but not least being the producer is the one doing the dancing. And that’s more brave, more relevant – and more engaging.
Visual and motion artist Alessandra Leone who conceptualized and directed the video is also an essential part of what is a unique audiovisual duo. In addition to her guidance on the platform in general, Leone’s background in work for screens and stages shows in making projects over the long haul. That crafts for SFX work in which visuals and music are on equal footing, developed over the long term, so you get the sense of a deeper, organic connection between the two. And that brings the phrasing of these rhythms out in Leone’s video for “Tenace”:
It certainly can inspire you to get up and move around.
I mean, how often have you found your musical ideas becoming stagnated, lost in a dizzying swirl of clicking and editing and knob adjustment? How often have you just felt stuck in your head – emotionally, creatively? After all, our brains are not some astral disembodied thing floating on the cosmic plane; they’re very much a gooey thing that lives inside our body.
I expect we’re all feeling that with an order of magnitude more intensity now, stuck in place, necks tensing, trying to simultaneously juggle a real-time feed of apocalyptic news with a corporate-juiced-up social media discourse that seems a bit like a bunch of 13-year-olds having a meltdown got connected to some AI. (I mean, assuming you didn’t get a nice short holiday yesterday when some hackers took over your account and started selling Bitcoin.) None of this puts you in a frame of mind to make music.
So maybe this is the perfect moment to contemplate moving around. The rhythms in Mc Pherson’s work are sophisticated, nuanced – but also inspire motion. And motion in turn can inspire phrasing, no matter how beatless and experimental the medium.
I recall once in an experimental improv group I was leading in college, all the musicians had sort of broken down and stopped listening to one another. I told everybody to leave their instruments behind, abandoned the (trained) dancers we were accompanying and headed for a rehearsal room. We switched the whole improvisation to a wordless ensemble movement piece – not one of us an educated dancer. Sure enough, when we re-entered and played, the music clicked.
We all have different bodies and ages, and different abilities. Music is made even by people working with just motion from their eyes. But there is at least some range of motion that can engage our body and musical selves.
And kudos to Zoë for putting herself into the work. It makes me keen to see the full audiovisual show with this collaboration, now delayed but hopefully coming soon.
Here’s a profile of the artist from April from Fact. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get away from this desk myself.
More on S-F-X:
It will not help you go explore and move around (well, unless you dance along with your computer). But here is a linkhole full of terrific audiovisual collaboration: