Doug Perkins’s “Simple Songs” on New Focus represents his solo debut recording, and is a wonderful document of the dynamism that exists in the constantly growing percussion repertoire. Praised as a “percussion virtuoso” by the New York Times, Doug has assembled a kaleidoscopic collection of works for solo percussion, focusing on the extremes of virtuosity on one hand and percussion music's penchant for the art of tinkering on the other. From the haunting meditation of vibraphone and one-bit music in Tristan Perich’s Momentary Expanse to the quirky noises of David Lang’s Unchained Melody, and ending with Michael Gordon’s monolithic XY, the range of the record is reflective of the vast scope of interests captivating the contemporary percussionist.
Beau Sievers’ Spatial Network for Percussion extends experimentation to the compositional process itself. Beau’s computerized score “knows” Doug’s setup but gives him an entirely unique realization within those parameters for each performance. This recording represents just one realization of an infinite number of possibilities. At the heart of this record both conceptually and personally is Simple Songs of Birth and Return by critically acclaimed composer, percussionist, and New Focus labelmate Nathan Davis (FCR120). Nathan and Doug’s friendship extends back for over 15 years, having gone to the same school, lived in the same apartments, and shared personal milestones (Doug was Nathan’s best man; “A Tale Begun” was written so Doug could practice as his newborn slept). It is at once a sonic exploration worthy of an indie venue and an intimate gift to a good friend. In the brotherly spirit of the transaction, the recording session for Davis’ work took place over two nights in Doug’s sauna in his New England home, temporarily retrofitted in true contemporary percussion DIY style as a recording studio for the occasion.
Capturing the personal nature of the project, Doug commissioned a comic book in lieu of program notes from music writer, composer, and comic book artist, Matthew Guerrierri. The percussion world is a club of sorts, and knowing about the inordinate and unique logistic hurdles that practitioners face is the barrier to entry. It seems fitting for a recording by a young veteran of this world to describe the works through a veneer of humor, undoubtedly the same veneer that comes in handy when packing up one’s gear alone after yet another show.
“…percussion virtuoso…” New York Times
“…terrific, wide-awake and strikingly entertaining…” Boston Globe
Doug Perkins is active as a chamber musician, soloist, producer, and conductor. He founded So Percussion, the Meehan/ Perkins Duo and performs regularly with groups such as the International Contemporary Ensemble, Signal, Camerata Pacifica, and eighth blackbird. Doug's productions of large-scale percussion works have been named Top Ten Performances in 2010 and 2011 by the New Yorker, New York Magazine, and Time Out NY. As an educator, Doug is Director of the Chosen Vale International Percussion Seminar, Artist-in-Residence with eighth blackbird at the University of Chicago and served on the music faculty at Dartmouth College.
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