PanznerLescaleetCWNM2013A detonating calm.


The listener must be gripped, and – whether they like it or not – drawn into the flight path of the sounds, without a special training being necessary. The sensual shock must be just as forceful as when one hears a clap of thunder or looks into a bottomless abyss.

The words in italics come from Xenakis, who knew a thing or two about thunder and the pitiless gaze of abysses. This quote, lifted from the composer’s notes to 40 Jahre Donaueschiger Musiktage, 1950 – 1990, brought to mind the work of Joe Panzner and Jason Lescalleet, meticulous composers who deliver sensual shocks to the body and mind.

In 2004 I was pointed to Lescalleet’s work from the early part of that decade – specifically, Forlorn Green, his duo with long-time collaborator Greg Kelley, and Mattresslessness, the latter work an augur of the scope and complexity of Lescalleet’s compositions in the ensuing years (and among the best release titles ever). Since those initial encounters I have stayed pretty current with Lescalleet’s output, waiting for an opportunity to hear him in concert. That happened in May 2012, at a venue in Chicago that provided a sound system capable of conveying Lescalleet’s dynamic range. In the midst of a superbly-crafted set, there emerged a chopped and screwed Beastie Boys tune, foregrounded long enough to serve as a slow-beat elegy for Adam Yauch, who had died just days before Lescalleet’s performance. This is one example of the deft touch Lescalleet wields in real-time, and set my resolution to bring him to a Twin Cities audience. I am pleased as hell to host Lescalleet on April 20; I told Jon Abbey,  in a private correspondence the year I began booking crow concerts, that Lescalleet was among the relatively few musicians working in the interzone of electro-acoustic composition and noise I was determined to present in my series.


That Lescalleet shares the evening with Joe Panzner, who is returning after his fantastic solo set in the 2012 cwnm concert series, is perfect. Allergic to praise, and inclined to deflect the deserved attention his sound work has elicited from alert listeners the past several years, Panzner is among the most creative musicians working in computer music today. His recorded output is, refreshingly, minimal, and stellar. A couple years ago, referring to Panzner’s release Clearing, Polluted, I wrote I do not hear Clearing. Polluted as being derivative; on the contrary, I consider this surprising release, alongside the current work of folks like Jason Lescalleet, Mike Shiflet and some of Daniel Menche’s stuff, to be nearly redemptive in an area of music as stagnant and surfeit with shoddy releases as can be found in any genre. Panzner brings an acute attention to detail and precision to what his playing partner Mike Shiflet once dubbed “excess audio”; spatial detail, clearly obsessive levels of sonic-sifting for the most organic [read, not contrived or precious] elements of tension and release, and an improbably mature grasp on the possibilities of the entire frequency range.

Join us for an evening of music that has at it’s center a detonating calm.

In Praise of the Swarm, my piece on Panzner