Posts with the tag "Rhys Chatham"

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“For 400 Electric Guitars”–Rhys Chatham’s A Crimson Grail–Records Under the Radar

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It begins with a shimmery whisper, like an orchestra warming up before a performance.  Then, as that shimmer swells and builds in volume, the realization comes: this is the performance.  Upon first listen, perhaps the most fascinating thing is how, exactly, 400 electric guitars can make such a beautiful sound.  But one can hear the size of the group behind the tidal steadiness, the inevitability, of the music.  It ebbs and flows as an organic wall of sound.

Rhys Chatham’s A Crimson Grail came about as a natural progression of his longtime musical experiments.  Chatham cut his teeth in the early ’70s in downtown Manhattan, working first as a piano tuner for avant garde legend La Monte Young, then as a collaborator with like-minded composers such as Philip Glass and Steve Reich.  By the late 1970s he had formed a guitar trio with Glenn Brancha, which was heavily influenced by punk and the denizens of the downtown No Wave scene.  This trio was the seed of an idea that eventually saw Chatham compose for dozens, and then hundreds, of guitars, all played at once.

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