Computer Music Journal

M.I.T.’s Computer Music Journal recently reviewed the Sonic Circuits Festival from last fall, of our performance they wrote:

“Ergo uniquely combined live modifications of sound with chordal materials that were deeply rooted in traditional jazz harmonic practice. The hybrid cross-genre sound focused on the lengthy, developed rhythmic and melodic lines that referred to minimalism while avoiding any obvious cliches.”

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latest news

Haven’t had too much to report lately, but here are some of my recent activities:
• I’m just finishing up the score to “The Jerusalem Syndrome”, which is coming together nicely and I think will be a very compelling documentary. You can hear a bit of that here.

• In less than two weeks I’ll be headed to the Nida Art Colony in Lithuania to finish composing the next Ergo record, continue work on my installation project Sine Qua Non, as well as mix some recordings related to that project with pianist Carl Maguire and flutist Kaoru Watanabe.

• The Cherubim record (possibly to be titled, “Joyful Shrieks of the Cherubim”, after a line in The Brothers Karamazov) is finished and so we’re trying to find a label or figure out the best way to release it. Let me know if you have any ideas. Here’s is another track that will be on that record:

It looks like 2013 will mostly be about getting these projects together, and hopefully by the end of the year bringing them to the public. Thanks for your support, and as always, we love you madly.
Brett

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Institute of Electronic Arts

Here’s a recent post from the Institute of Electronic Arts at Alfred University about my recent visit-  http://blogs.alfred.edu/iea/?p=663

I have lot’s of audio and video from the week to go through, so there’s more to come soon…

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Favorites of 2012

I can’t say I’ve heard enough new releases this past year to have a “best of” list, but here are some of the favorites that I did hear, in no particular order:

Ben Frost & Daniel Bjarnason – Solaris
This record takes on the ambitious task of creating a new score to Tarkovsky haunting classic “Solaris”, the result are a powerful, worthy blend of orchestral composition and visceral sound design. I didn’t hear much about this one and as I spend more time with it I’m sure it’ll continue to reveal new details.

Dan Deacon – America
Although I didn’t feel that “America” evolved much from Deacons prior record, “Bromst”,  it has some expansive, grandiose moments that remind of Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn”, and I love his style of spazzy, midi minimalism.

Janel & Anthony – Where is Home
Fellow Cuneiform artists Janel & Anthony experiment with exotic, beguiling melody, ambient and progressive sensibilities in just the way I like. I’m still kicking myself for missing both their Brooklyn show and their Sonic Circuits Festival show.

Grizzly Bear – Shields
This one blew me away. It brings so many things together in such a beautiful, cohesive way – poignant writing and performances, detailed production that experiments with spaces, textures and at times undercurrents of violent noise, harmonies and riffs that sound at times like something the Bad Plus’ might play. Most people like anthems, they’re anthems for a reason – they’re powerful, but I’m often annoyed by the manipulative and obvious ones that many bands use, on Shields Grizzly Bear employs anthems that grip you slowly and subtly.

Bobby Womack – The Bravest Man In The Universe
I love Bobby Womack, but I wasn’t really expecting to like this record. However Damion Albarn’s futuristic and funky production together with his soulful voice has a bit of magic to it. Sort of like something Thom Yorke would make if he had grown up in the black church. 

Vijay Iyer – Accelerando
Using minimalism, the avant-garde and groove Vijay’s trio has really hit on refined, powerful sound. I think I’ve heard him say that the Duke/Mingus/Max record “Money Jungle” is one of the main inspirations of this trio, and that’s one of my favorite records of all time, totally unique in Jazz, and I wish more bands took their point of departure from it.

Peter Wright – Folk Songs and Blackness
I’m a fan of drones and starkness whenever it’s done well, Peter Wright reminds me of Loren Connors in that way. This record is only $5 at bandcamp.com

2012: FIVE + FIVE OVERLOOKED GEMS

Ergo – If Not Inertia
I’m really proud of this record, but was disappointed that critics, by and large, seemed to have missed out on it.  For a record with the least amount of written material I’ve ever done, we rehearsed more than any other record to achieve a very refined sound and new approach for the group.  I understand that there are too many great records coming out every year and a lot of artists doing incredible work, so I tried not to have too big a pity party for myself, but I felt somewhat vindicated that Destination Out, a blog that I read and respect felt the same way.

Thanks for reading and supporting, I’m very much looking forward to some good things in 2013, including: developing my first sound installation at Alfred U’s Institute of Electronic Arts, releasing the first Cherubim record, a two month residency in Lithuania, and hopefully recording the next Ergo record, stay tuned!

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Music Factory

Music Factory at the EyeBeam Art + Technology center is a 96 hour continuous improvisation that’s happening right now through tomorrow night.  You can watch it live via Ustream at www.newlanguages.org

Here’s some sound from this morning around 4am with curator Jackson Moore on saxophone and myself on laptop-

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The Necks

I really love the Australian piano trio the Necks.  They have a collective approach to performing and spontaneously composing that is unparallelled in my opinion.  It generally falls beyond the genre’s of jazz, rock, minimalism and ambient music, but utilizes aspects of them all. Listening to the Necks  (especially live) creates the paradoxical feelings of intense focus, as if being in the midst of a micro-detailed task, and towards the end of a performance, or somewhere in the middle, the awe of a great vista or a roiling ocean surrounding you.   Seeing them at Le Poisson Rouge in 2009 was a mesmerizing, sublime experience.

I quite enjoyed this radio piece discussing their approach-

Not Just Music: collective authoring and new Australian music

Broadcast:
Saturday 10 November 2012 4:05PM (view full episode)
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#instagram

follow me on instagram : )

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Sine Qua Non with Kaoru Watanabe

Thursday, October 25 915pm
Kaoru Watanabe-flutes, Brett Sroka-laptop
Shapshifter Lab
18 Whitwell Place
(Park Slope) Brooklyn, NY (map)
$5

This Thursday at Shapeshifter Lab I’ll be collaborating with one of my oldest friends, Kaoru Watanabe, for the first time. Kaoru and I met on our first day of college at Manhattan School of Music, (in a time even before the internet, if you can imagine that). Because of our mutual love of skateboarding (and music) we became friends instantly, and during those four years discovered, learned and experienced so much. Kaoru had a yearning to connect with his roots and after school took the boldest move of any of our classmates, he moved to the remote Sado Island in Japan to audition for Kodo, the world renowned Taiko Ensemble. For a decade he toured the world with them and in 2006 returned to New York a seasoned, brilliant musician.

Little by little over the past year we’ve been putting together a computer and flute/fue project, which was has lead to a broader installation that I’ve been imagining for for a while. Sine Qua Non will be a generative surround-sound installation that evolves out of a live, improvisational performance, and I’m pleased to announce I’ve recently been invited to develop it at the Institute of Electronic Arts at Alfred University. Thursday’s show will illustrate the performance aspect of it, and sound something like this:

Sine Qua Non: kb002 by srokasonic Sine Qua Non: kb001 by srokasonic

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Ergo at Penn – concert review

Big thanks to Dr. Guthrie Ramsey for having us to present our music and thoughts at the University of Pennsylvania, and thanks to composer Erica Ball for writing this thoughtful review.

“The shadows of bebop, Coltrane, Sun Ra, and other jazz greats are present in Ergo’s music, but Ergo takes these more traditional jazz sounds to unexplored territories with the addition of drones, unconventional forms, and live processing.”

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more Sonic Circuits

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