Ikue Mori & Zeena Parkins Redefine the Common Denominator
Whether it's mainstream rock/pop designed to appeal to consumers or folk songs and traditions that have lasted for hundreds of years, static rhythm and tonality are always present in popular music. That leads to the question, though: how are common denominators such as static rhythm or tonality relatable to the majority of people in a culture? In another words, is there a connection to common human activities, such as walking or breathing, and sonic components that act as common denominators in music?
A master West African drummer once told me that we all have rhythm because we all have heartbeats. That gives us at least one answer to why static rhythm appeals to the majority. What we normally find attractive tends to sound similar to our bodies, the very framework of the human experience.
But why does some "weird" or "experimental" music sound so familiar, despite the absence of common denominators of popular music? It's always shocking to hear music that sounds organic and enticing from the first listening yet remains highly original. Phantom Orchard is just that. It's the collaboration of Ikue Mori (electronics, computer, drum machines, live video) and Zeena Parkins (acoustic harp, electric harp, and electronics), both of whom boast impressive resumes. Mori has worked with innovators like Susie Ibarra, Kim Gordon, Jim O'Rourke, John Zorn, Mike Patton, and Dave Douglas, while Parkins has worked with Thurston Moore, Pauline Oliveros, Björk, Yoko Ono, John Zorn, and Fred Frith.
Their music has been described as "gorgeously stimulating" and "full of endless resources." Pitch gestures reveal themselves through layers of intricate patterns, rhythmic repetition fleets across before setting in... It could be likened to looking microscopically into a chemical reaction of sounds -- changing temperature, shape, color, and the entirety of the music's properties in unpredictable but always natural processes. END
Ikue Mori & Zeena Parkins perform as Phantom Orchard Sunday, April 26th at Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex (2201 Preston). $13 general admission, $10 students, under 18 free; 8PM.