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Behind the scenes at Solid Sound

Here’s the low down on Glenn Kotche’s installation for  Solid Sound from our director Joe Thompson:

 

I caught MASS MoCA staffer Cody Johnson mounting the first of six speakers to be installed down the 100’ long elevated walkway leading from our lobby to the LeWitt building.  The speakers will be used to create a sound sculpture by Wilco’s magical percussionist Glenn Kotche, for the upcoming Solid Sound ’11 festival.

One of the greatest things about Wilco is the way the band’s aesthetic interests cast such a wide wake, parts of which wash up on MASS MoCA’s shores in felicitous ways.

Guitarist Nels Cline (who just released a fantastic new album with alto saxophonist Tim Berne, and drummer Jim Black) for instance, will be joined by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore in what promises to be a mind-bending set.  Fans who attend the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival here will fondly recall Thurston’s electrifying performance at our 2006 Marathon…which loops me back to Glenn Kotche, who also performs from time to time with Bang on a Can, perhaps not surprisingly, given Glenn’s experimental turn of mind, and his use of intricate, often visually stunning instrumentation. Those of you who attended Solid Sound ‘10 will remember Glenn’s elegant, playable, handiwork placed throughout the LeWitt Wall Drawing Retrospective, which Jeff Tweedy named inGLENNtions.

This year, using the LeWitt walkway as a sort of sonic preamble for the band’s newest (and still unreleased) work, Glenn will orchestrate audio snapshots sampled from the recording process from the band’s upcoming album.  The result of his “fly-on-the-wall” recordings was a rich collection of overdubs, full band tracking, fragments of meal conversations between band members, pinball games and playbacks.   For the LeWitt walkway installation, Glenn selected six of his favorite recording fragments for each of the six speaker locations.

And then, in Glenn’s own words, “I  used the drumbeat that opens the record as a guide for their arrangement – assigning one recording to each voice of the beat.  The rhythms of each voice determine when tracks are audible or muted.  The result is a collage of behind-the-scene mini-clips of our recording work over the past 11 months. Each speaker has a dedicated collage that loops, going in and out of phase with the other 5 speakers over the course of the festival.”

This is one of a half dozen or so Wilco-specific exhibitions that will be installed June 24-26. Look for it when you come to Solid Sound. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that tickets are still available.

Posted June 14, 2011 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Music, Wilco Solid Sound Festival, Work-in-progress
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One Comment on “Behind the scenes at Solid Sound”

  1. Nippertown! Says:

    [...] the MASS MoCA Blog, museum director Joe Thompson offers a little behind-the-scenes peek at this weekend’s [...]

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