Mixing classical-music organizational tactics with rock instruments and firepower is not a new concept, but it’s still a dicey prospect. Too much order renders bloodless results; too much chaos will overshadow the architecture. Virgil Moorefield, a drummer, composer and intermedia artist from North Carolina now based in Switzerland, provides an object lesson in creating keenly disciplined works that still stomp convincingly—something you’d expect from a musician who holds in equal regard his experiences of drumming with Glenn Branca and Swans, and playing Beethoven in a touring orchestra.
On Distractions on the Way to the King’s Party, from 1994, Moorefield offered wiry, jazzy art-rock fusion in tune with the NYC downtown scene. But with 1997’s The Temperature in Hell Is Over Three Thousand Degrees, Moorefield dug deep into microtonality; the four-movement title suite, inspired by apocalyptic handbills, conjures what Beethoven might have heard as deafness ensued in delirious smears and frustrated shudders. Moorefield’s latest, 2007’s Things You Must Do to Get Into Heaven, kick-starts his current notion of transforming a mixed ensemble into a single, potent, prismatic drum set.
At ShapeShifter Lab on Thursday 11, Moorefield’s luminary-loaded bicontinental pocket orchestra will present the leader’s newest pieces, at least one of which employs visible light as part of its palette. And on Tuesday 16, Moorefield’s ensemble shares the Stone with BloodMist, the avant-minded, metal-fueled collaborative of Jeremiah Cymerman, Toby Driver and Mario Diaz de León.—Steve Smith
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