“When Dark Sounds Collide” is a collaborative project between Pathos Trio, and composers Alyssa Weinberg, Alison Yun-Fei Jiang, Alan Hankers, Finola Merivale, and Evan Chapman, dedicated to presenting newly commissioned works for two percussionists and piano in the form of this full length LP and accompanying music videos produced by Philadelphia based audio/film/videography company Four/Ten Media.
The commissions featured on this album seek to combine aesthetics of contemporary classical music with the ensemble's interests in dark, heavy, dense sounds drawn from other genres of music such as alternative rock, cathedral music, minimalist music, electronic synth-wave, and more. As a result, each work on this album creates raw, edgy, and powerful soundscapes that will engage audiences in both mainstream and classical/ new music scenes.
|01||fiction of light|
fiction of light
|05||Distance Between Places|
Distance Between Places
Pathos Trio’s When Dark Sounds Collide features five new commissions that combine aesthetics of contemporary classical music with the ensemble's interests in dark, heavy, dense sounds drawn from other genres of music such as alternative rock, cathedral music, minimalist music, electronic synth-wave, and more. The trio (percussionists Felix Reyes and Marcelina Suchocka and pianist Alan Hankers) perform with energy and precision, attacking their repertoire with a sureness that resembles a touring band’s well oiled setlist.
The album opens with Evan Chapman's fiction of light which marries minimalism, elements of electronic music, and a propulsive pulse. Also an active video artist, Chapman was inspired by the mysterious relationship between light and color, and sought to explore similar dynamics within an ensemble. fiction of light employs subtle electronics sent directly to the performers’ handheld devices, integrating the sounds directly from each player’s physical position inside the group.
Alison Yun-Fei Jiang's Prayer Variations is in a theme and variations form, as a simple melody unfolds and accumulates gradually. Inspired by expansive cathedral spaces, Prayer Variations is primarily led by its piano part, with percussion providing increasing intensity as the texture grows. Towards the end of the work, it recedes into a halo not unlike the space in which it began.
Alyssa Weinberg's Delirious Phenomena opens with an infectious groove which features all three members of the trio playing prepared piano. Over taut rhythms and scrapes, disembodied melodies emerge. As the piece progresses, the rigor of the pulse dissipates and an ethereal texture emerges, integrating wordless singing over a series of shifting drones. Rhythmic regularity returns for the final section piece, which is also marked by material played conventionally on the piano keyboard.Read More
Finola Merivale's oblivious/oblivion grapples with the urgency of the climate catastrophe. The foreboding character of the work is apparent from the opening cymbal and gong crashes, as haunting sounds slowly emerge from bowed percussion. Much of the work’s structure seems to be framed by inexorable intensifications of energy, contrasted with fragile, reflective passages. With this duality, Merivale encapsulates the power of the external forces that are beyond human control, and the painful introspection that comes with our collective crisis.
Pianist Alan Hankers contributes the final work on the recording, Distance Between Places. The work opens with an exploratory introduction, as repeated pitches in the high register of the piano and pitched percussion shimmer and grow towards tolling bass notes which provide increasing rhythmic impetus. Splashes of syncopated piano voicings intertwine with angular percussion as overlapping cycles of pulse careen towards arrival points. Hankers compares the work to “an amalgamation of independent sounds one might associate with a busy city,” and the middle of the work moves through a series of fluid sections that explore interrelated, if not necessarily interdependent, material in the three parts. Also engaged with the relationship between soundscape and memory, the work recalls the resolute pulsed material towards the end of the piece, filtered through the inevitable abstraction of recollection.
Pathos Trio is cultivating a new repertoire for an under explored instrumentation that reflects the genre fluid aesthetics of many active contemporary composers. When Dark Sounds Collide reflects that fluidity, as well as the group’s versatility in realizing these composers’ visions.
– Dan Lippel
Tracks 1-2 recorded at Rittenhouse Soundwork, in Philadelphia, PA - June 5th, 2021
Tracks 3-4 recorded at MISE-EN Place Greenpoint, in Brooklyn, NY - June 10th, 2021
Track 5 recorded at Riverside Church, in Manhattan, NY - November 19th, 2019
All tracks were recorded, edited, produced, mixed, and mastered by Four/Ten Media
Art Direction and Design by Michal Kopanski
"Shattering head" render by brainmaster
"Lights and stripes moving fast over dark background" render by cherezoff
“Elevated themselves into those elite ranks alongside Yarn/Wire, Tigue, So Percussion, Iktus and Ensemble Et Al”, as described by the New York Music Daily, Pathos Trio (percussionists Marcelina Suchocka, Felix Reyes, and pianist/composer Alan Hankers) is committed to engaging classical/contemporary music, while also aiming to bring adventurous music to audiences through collaborations with young, living new music composers.
Their current project “When Dark Sounds Collide: New Music for Percussion and Piano”, the ensemble’s first album, comprises a collection of newly commissioned works for two percussionists and piano written by composers Alison Yun-Fei Jiang, Evan Chapman, Alyssa Weinberg, Alan Hankers, and Finola Merivale recorded by Grammy nominated film company Four/Ten Media. This project album will be released in Spring 2022 and is graciously supported by New Music USA, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Artist Relief, along with the help of funds allocated from Chamber Music America, Pathos Trio being a recipient of a Chamber Music America Ensemble Forward Grant, made possible with generous support from the New York Community Trust.
Raved by the New York Times for his multi-media work, Evan Chapman is a composer, percussionist, and filmmaker based in Philadelphia, PA. Co-founder of multi-award winning media group Four/Ten Media alongside Kevin Eikenberg, and founding member of Philadelphia based bad Square Peg Round Hole, his recordings, compositions, and performances can be seen on major outlets like I Care If You Listen, Vic Firth, and NPR.
As an active performer, most notably as drummer in the instrumental percussion work/ electronic trio Square Peg Round Hole (dubbed a “creative adventure” by Bob Boilen of NPR), the group’s been direct support for headlining bands like The Bad Plus, Dawn of Midi, and Kneebody.
Canadian composer Alison Yun-Fei Jiang explores the intersections of genres and cultures by drawing inspirations and influences from an array of sources such as East Asian aesthetics, Chinese opera, Canadian natural landscapes, Buddhism, film music, popular music, and literature, creating musical narratives and experiences in a lyrical, dynamic, and storytelling nature.
Alison is a Carrefour Composer-In-Residence with the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada (2020-22). She has collaborated with ensembles such as Esprit Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, JACK Quartet, the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Imani Winds, and Molinari Quartet.
Some of her awards and recognitions can be seen from ASCAP, the SOCAN Foundation, the Graham Sommer Competition for Young Composers, the American Prize, and International Alliance for Women in Music.
Composer Alyssa Weinberg is best-known for crafting visceral, communicative scores, which have been lauded for their “frenetic yet cohesive musical language” (icareifyoulisten) and “heavyweight emotional dimensions.” (bachtrack) Alyssa finds collaboration deeply inspiring, and her music pulls concepts from her work with writers, dancers and visual artists.
Her music has been commissioned and performed by some of the most accomplished artists and ensembles around the world, including eighth blackbird, So Percussion, yMusic, and the Aizuri Quartet, as well as the Minnesota Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
Finola Merivale is an Irish composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music, living in New
York. She is a DMA candidate in Composition at Columbia University, where she is studying with George Lewis, Georg Friedrich Haas and Zosha Di Castri. Her music has been performed internationally and featured at festivals such as Huddersfield, the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival and the Contemporary Music Festival of Buenos Aires. Her works have been played by International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, Crash Ensemble, and musicians of the Chicago and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras, amongst others.
She was recently named the winner of the National Concert Hall and Sounding the Feminists’ Music Recording Award in Ireland – a grant that will fund the release of her debut album. She is currently working on Out of the Ordinary – the world’s first community opera in virtual reality – commissioned by Irish National Opera. In 2020, she was a winner of the inaugural National Sawdust New Works Commission Competition, and was awarded a four-month residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris.
Described as “atmospheric and striking” by Outburn Magazine, Alan Hankers has been praised as a keyboardist by Metal Hammer (UK) and Prog Magazine. His compositions have been performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia at venues such as Lincoln Center, New World Center, Koger Center for the Performing Arts, and Musikhusset Aarhus. He was the 2017/18 Composer-in-Residence for the Danish music ensemble, ENSEMBLE EDGE, and has been a visiting fellow at prestigious festivals and residencies.
Alan’s music specifically for film and television has garnered international acclaim, and is actively sought after for international advertising campaigns by Lincoln Automotive, Amazon, David Yurman, and others. His score for the short film, ‘Color Blind’, was awarded for the Roger Taylor Best Score at the Idyllwild International Film Festival.
As a pianist and keyboardist, he regularly appears on recordings and has toured alongside bands such as Intervals, Plini, Scar Symmetry, and others.
The subtitle really tells you everything you need to know about the music of this forward thinking trio’s debut set. It kind of starts you off where “Tubular Bells” left you and goes from there. Progressive without being pots and pans music, this crew is swinging for the fences but not swinging wildly. Experimental leaning ears will find it well worth taking a look see here.
— Chris Spector, 2.23.2022
The notion of percussive piano plus other percussion instruments comes through even more strongly, indeed is foundational, on a New Focus Recordings CD featuring the Pathos Trio playing five avant-garde works by different contemporary composers. These pieces, all Pathos Trio commissions, have no chance of reaching out to any audience hoping for emotional rather than intellectual engagement. And as usual in consciously as-new-as-possible creations, the material is designed to push the capabilities of the performers as well as any audience to new levels. Thus, Evan Chapman’s fiction of light (all-lower-case title, commonplace in avant-garde pieces) includes an ongoing repetitive ostinato with a wide variety of sounds, both pianistic and from percussion instruments, woven above and around it. Prayer Variations by Alison Yun-Fei Jiang has some of the delicacy and repetitiveness of minimalist music, combined with exclamatory material that becomes increasingly insistent later in the work, before the evanescent sounds return at the conclusion. Delirious Phenomena by Alyssa Weinberg starts by using the piano in a percussive manner in John Cage style – plucking the strings by hand, tapping and banging on the case, and so forth. A fairly solid rhythm is developed this way, but soon Weinberg has the performers stretch the piano’s capabilities even further by threading string-instrument strings through the piano’s strings and then essentially strumming the piano – or damping its strings to the point of near-inaudibility. In this piece and to some extent all of those on the disc, the sense is of a visual performance rather than an auditory experience: without being able to see what the performers are doing, some of the impact of the music (however “impact” may be defined) is lost. So it goes as well with Finola Merivale’s oblivious/oblivion (another lower-case-titled piece) and Distance Between Places by Pathos Trio pianist Alan Hankers – the Hankers piece being another in which the piano is played with mallets on the strings and with other extensions of what is usually keyboard technique, although in this case piano chords are used as well, to complement the various struck instruments wielded by the other members of the group. Potential listeners to this sort of CD already know who they are and will self-select themselves as cognoscenti who truly care about the absolute latest in musical creation and performance, while anyone not already firmly committed to displays of the avant-garde in composition and presentation will have no interest at all in the disc. It is, however, a particularly interesting example of the way in which the piano, already a percussion instrument, can become even more of one through techniques that, depending on one’s viewpoint, either violate the instrument’s basic structure and reason for being – or extend them into new realms of sound.
— Mark Estren, 3.24.2022