MASON BATES: DIGITAL LOOMMusic for Chamber Musicians, Organ and Electronica
ANTARES CHAMBER ENSEMBLE
World Premiere Recordings
CRITICS CHOICE 2010, Estep, American Record Guide
"[Mason Bates'] compositional skill in weaving [techno, drum-machine, sampling and wave manipulation] with pipe organ, voices, string quartet and mixed ensemble is in several cases sophisticated and winning." -
Andrew Druckenbrod, Gramophone, March 2010
"This is a composer with an interesting voice who deserves to be heard... The intro track, entitled BLUES7, is electronically produced and is in a smooth funk style, with a memorable groove and an overall feel which would make it a suitable contender for the pop market as well as the classical, and demonstrates the range of this composer’s influences... The main work, Digital Loom is a five movement work for organ and electronics, commissioned for the centenary of the Juilliard School. Building slowly with sustained long notes, well-placed crackle and a gentle underlying pulse, this is music which immediately has a sense of atmosphere. Bates is a composer from the dance music world who is combining his genre with contemporary classical. He chose to use the organ because it was loud enough to compete with a speaker system. The combination of the organ’s ecclesiastical connotations with dance music is both symbolic of a changing world and highly musically effective. The organ is given rhythmic material which combines well with the electronica which surrounds it... Siren Music provides another short interlude, with vocal sounds creating a tapestry of textures over a dance rhythm. This is a fascinating work, which wholly incorporates the voices into the overall track, giving the impression that they could also have been produced by computer, if the quality of the singing had not given it away... From Amber Frozen, a single movement work for string quartet is closer in style to the perception of contemporary classical music, although dance music rhythms are immediately apparent in the pizzicato interplay at the opening. The music grows, beginning in an essentially percussive manner, with textures building and changing throughout the work until melodic material takes over and is gradually deconstructed towards the end of the work. The interlude, Amber takes material from the previous work and remixes it with electronics. This is highly convincing and it is fascinating to see the music used in this way... Red River is another major work, spanning almost twenty minutes in five movements for a mixed ensemble of clarinet, violin, cello and piano with electronics. Based on the journey of the Colorado, there are obvious influences from twentieth century American composers, such as Copland, as well as the clear fusion with Bates’s dance music style. There are some wonderfully expressive lyrical moments in this work, and the electronics are used at times to represent human intervention with nature... The disc ends with an ‘outro’, entitled Rhombus, which has a similar jazz funk style to the opening work and balances well. This is a fascinating disc, and reminiscent of the sort of music that Gabriel Prokofiev and Shiva Feshareki are producing in the UK; these are young composers who are combining the music of their generation with contemporary classical music to create a new exciting genre which re-writes the rules and has a sense of fresh energy. Bates’s music is well constructed and has a wide appeal. The variety contained within this disc demonstrates a considerable imagination." -
Carla Rees, MusicWeb International, March 2010
"From Amber Frozen…is bracing, but never abrasive or ugly… fascinating sonorities. The string playing, by the way, is jaw-droppingly good—detailed, always alive, and mentally connected… This is the best new piece I’ve heard in quite a while... On to Digital Loom… The organ writing…is overall very impressive, especially in the use of the stops for crescendos and decrescendos... The individuality of the organ writing is what really makes it... Red River [has] nervous energy as well, but with an undercurrent of mischief …Some passages are rhapsodic and very beautiful; others are fragmented, swinging, or abstract... the pieces...don’t pander to anybody. They’ll have their share of haters, but they are not insipid; they keep a good middle ground between classical writing and structure and the popular music they draw from. And all the players are convinced that the pieces are worthwhile. Bates’s writing is principled, often dissonant, interesting, well thought-out, and organic, never forced. The ‘Intro’, interludes, and ‘Outtro’ all work well with the pieces."
American Record Guide, January/February 2010
Repeat performances of his works have occurred throughout the United States , from the Oakland Symphony to the New York Philharmonic, and he is a frequent guest at summer music festivals such as Tanglewood, Cabrillo, and Aspen .
Current events bring the premieres of The-B Sides for orchestra & electronica, which will be premiered by the San Francisco Symphony in May, and Sirens for the renowned male chorus, Chanticleer. He currently serves as composer-in-residence with the California Symphony. Active as a performer, he has played his Concerto for Synthesizer with the Atlanta and Phoenix Symphonies, and he also stays busy as a DJ of trip-hop and electronica in San Francisco 's many clubs, lounges and art spaces. With Maestro Benjamin Schwartz of the San Francisco Symphony and set designer Anne Patterson, he recently launched Mercury Soul: An Electro-Acoustic Evening, which brought over a thousand people to the San Francisco club Mezzanine to hear contemporary classical music interspersed with DJs and live electronica.
Studying English literature and music composition in the Columbia-Juilliard program, he worked primarily with John Corigliano, and has also studied with David Del Tredici and Samuel Adler. Now living in the San Francisco Bay Area where he worked with Edmund Campion at UC Berkeley, he is currently a Guggenheim Fellow, the California Symphony's Young American Composer-in-Residence, and is on the management roster of the acclaimed Young Concert Artists.
In May 2007, he received an Academy Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an award that “honors outstanding artistic achievement and acknowledges the composer who has arrived at his or her own voice.”
MASON BATES (b.1977)
DIGITAL LOOM for organ & electronica
Dusk On A Static Empire
Fanfare With Breaks
Through The Atmosphere
Deliver Us From Evil
INTERLUDE: SIREN MUSIC
FROM AMBER FROZEN
for string quartet & electronica
RED RIVER for mixed ensemble & electronica
The Continental Divide
Visions From The Canyon Walls
Hoover Slates Vegas
Running Dry On The Sonoran Floor