Clogs are four improvising classical musicians from Australia and the US. The group is the leading light in a wave of challenging, emotionally resonant classical music that's crossed over to non-classical audiences. (e.g. Tin Hat Trio, Ethel, Dirty Three, The Books, Rachel's, The Michael Gordon Band, and Threnody Ensemble.) Clogs are notable for having shared the stage or collaborated with members of all of these groups, and their position at the forefront of this movement was solidified when they were awarded a series of grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and Chamber Music America. These will help them realize a large fall tour.
Group members Padma Newsome (viola/violin), Bryce Dessner (guitar), Rachael Elliott (bassoon), and Thomas Kozumplik (percussion) met in the late 90s at the world-renowned Yale School of Music where they established a peculiar writing process more akin to a rock band or a jazz quartet. The group develops riffs and ideas in rehearsal, jam sessions, and live performances. Newsome later arranges these ideas into elegant and complex musical narratives that meld and extend the ideas of minimalist, modernist, and romantic composers alike. The result is one part Philip Glass, one part Igor Stravinsky.
Clogs, however, are a true band, their creations those of a four distinct personalities. Newsome was born in the red center of Australia, the son of a writer and an ecologist. In the early '80s he trained and performed as a concert violist in Sydney, but retired early, spending the next six years on an ashram in the remote region of New South Wales. He began composing in the '90s at the University of Adelaide, and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study at Yale. Elliott is a proud Vermonter and an active freelance musician. Kozumplik is a master percussionist familiar with most any style. Dessner is an established soloist, and a veteran of bands including Bang on a Can All-Stars and The National.
Last year, Dessner and Newsome spent much time with The National, helping the band record and tour SAD SONGS FOR DIRTY LOVERS (Brassland, 2003), one of last year's most critically acclaimed independent rock albums. Recently they've put down roots in Brooklyn, New York though Newsome often returns to Australia, to compose new material.
STICK MUSC & DISCOGRAPHY
Clogs' third album, STICK MUSIC (Brassland, 2004), is a tour-de-force concept album conceived by Newsome and Dessner. Simply put: It is a deep exploration of strings. They are bowed, struck, plucked, and treated as never before. The results are intimate, melodic, gorgeous. One moment they resonate like gentle raindrops, the next they're woven into dizzying eddies of sound. The record includes performances by cello virtuoso Erik Friedlander -- a friend and downtown scene veteran (John Zorn's Masada, Laurie Anderson, Dave Douglas) celebrating the success of his recent solo debut, MALDOROR (Brassland, 2003).
STICK MUSIC is a bold achievement. It is odd and intense enough to satisfy avant-gardists yet -- after adjusting to Clogs' peculiar sound world - it grows as accessible and comfortable as instrumental classics like John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come, or Brian Eno's early ambient works.
STICK MUSIC may be the masterpiece in Clogs' much beloved discography. Their first record, THOM'S NIGHT OUT (Brassland, 2001) was a landmark in improvised classical music that garnered comparisons to artists as diverse as Kronos Quartet, Arvo Part, Sigur Ros, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, and Kind of Blue-era Miles Davis. Their second, LULLABY FOR SUE (Brassland, 2003) was more rhythmic, ambient, electric, and eclectic.
Both received glowing notices worldwide. England's THE WIRE has celebrated their "eerie, looping folk melodies...delicately bowed and struck strings [and] beautiful 'lost at sea' effect." THE NEW YORKER wrote "fans of the Rachel's, and other post-rock ensembles who know how to listen in respectful silence to a live performance will have no trouble appreciating the softly evocative compositions." LA WEEKLY's Alan Rich said that Clogs "create a repertory not quite like anything already out there." And Philadelphia City Paper explained "FEW NEW CDS IN ANY GENRE WILL DO AS MUCH TO CHALLENGE THE WAY YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC." Les Inrockuptibles -- France's answer to Rolling Stone - was especially drawn to their music and Clogs have attained rock star status in France.
Clogs will undertake an extensive US and European tour from August to November 2004. In August, they will take part of Connecticut's Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and New York City's Howl Festival. Throughout the fall they will travel the West Coast (Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco), Midwest (Cinncinnati, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh), and visit New Hampshire, Boston, Michigan, among others.
The centerpiece of these performances will be the world premiere of "In Deserto" a new piece commissioned from composer INGRAM MARSHALL written expressly for Clogs. It will also feature new and old music by Clogs and possible collaborations with like-minded local artists like Erik Friedlander, Mia Doi Todd and Six Parts Seven.
This tour is made possible by a National Endowment of the Arts/Chamber Music America Special Commissioning Award.
Check out the artist's website:
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