The New York–based antiphonal chamber metal band Real Loud tackles four premieres for mirrored electric basses, electric guitars, and drum sets that draw on influences from progressive metal and spatial music. The driving textures and multi-dimensional expressive worlds of Pascal Le Boeuf, Paul Kerekes, Brendon Randall-Myers, and Jenny Beck shine light on an aesthetic confluence that has existed in the new music community for decades, stemming from artists like Louis Andriessen, Michael Gordon, Joan La Barbara, Maryanne Amacher, Elliott Sharp, and Glenn Branca.
Real Loud opens with Pascal Le Boeuf’s Forbidden Subjects, a tour de force of mixed meters, angular accents, and pulsing grooves inspired by the extreme metal band Meshuggah and dedicated to Louis Andriessen who mentored Le Boeuf from 2015-16. The title refers to three subjects Andriessen discussed as low profile feelings that are not good for art: sex, violence, and horror. A steady repeated note ostinato passed between the low registers of bass and guitar grows out of an initial smear of bends and a descending tremolo glissando. Accented hits begin to punctuate this rhythmic grid before snaking lines evolve from there. Le Boeuf sets up compound scalar lines between left and right subsets of the band, with one finishing the other’s musical idea, deftly truncating figures to distort the meter and drive the texture forward. Modular ideas are interchanged in fast jump cut style, with a quintuplet unison riff serving a transitional and structural function. The relentless density is momentarily suspended in the middle of the work as pulsing improvised textures in the guitars and basses are ritualistically detuned down and then up again. The quintuplet riff returns, growing into a drum battle between Mark Utley and Clara Warnaar (of Infinity Shred) before a jangly maelstrom emerges and pushes towards an ecstatic climax.
Paul Kerekes’ Codependence explores a more ethereal sound world, featuring interlocking lines of harmonics and over-ringing chords above flourishes in the drums and cymbals. Watery phrases start in the high register and spill down, settling momentarily before a new phrase begins. In the middle section, the texture becomes more continuous as arpeggios flow in and out of the two guitars, anchored by repeated figures in the basses. After the more active section dissipates, the fluid material from the opening returns before the piece ends with gently hocketing chords.Read More
Brendon Randall-Myers (whose dynamics of vanishing bodies for electric guitar quartet was released in the fall of 2020 on New Focus) follows with the gnarly Double Double. A groove of repeated notes in a fast triple meter is established from the opening before it opens up into a tangled web of interlocking lines. Randall-Myers gradually widens the initially compressed register as high accented notes dart out of the spidery passagework. Throughout, the ensemble plays in a similar phrase contour without being in rhythmic unison, creating intricate, tight machines of sound. After a series of syncopated scale fragments broken up by tolling harmonics, the group intones deep, low register chords, harbingers of doom. The return of the insistent repeated notes from the opening is heard here in a more expansive context, with angular, percolating figures dancing between the instrumental parts. The pitch register compresses down to a dense power chord cluster as the piece comes to a powerful end.
The album closes with its most experimental music, Go in Secret by Jenny Beck. Mysterious harmonics, an enveloping windscape sound, and a pad of drones evolve in the work’s opening minutes. Slowly ascending lines played with a slide surface in the guitars while the drummers play foreboding fragments on the toms. Suddenly, massive chords splash across the mix while unsettling found sounds are heard close and upfront. Disembodied voices, performed by Beck herself, spin a distorted, chantlike melody. Delicate, unpitched crackling sounds end the work, a stark close for an album largely devoted to a maximalist soundscape. The inclusion of Beck’s piece in this program really broadens the offerings with its textural and quasi-theatrical sophistication.
Real Loud demonstrates its virtuosity not just in the powerful onslaught of grooves and rapid fire rhythmic corners in the Le Boeuf and Randall-Myers works, but also in establishing a sheen to the ensemble sound in the Kerekes and projecting a spatialized timbral soundscape in the Beck. This is an album that truly straddles several genres, appealing to devotees of each, uncovering a throughline of artistic community.
– Dan Lippel
Recorded by Tim O'Sullivan at Greenpoint Recording Collective (Brooklyn NY), April 3-7, 2017
Mixed by Tim O'Sullivan (Tracks 2-4) at Barefoot Recording (Los Angeles CA) and Dave Darlington (Track 1) at Bass Hit Studios (New York NY)
Mastered by Ian Sefchick (Tracks 2-4) at Capitol Studios (Los Angeles CA) and Dave Darlington (Track 1) at Bass Hit Studios (New York NY)
Produced by Tristan Kasten-Krause, Evan Runyon, Pascal Le Boeuf (Track 1) and Brendon Randall-Myers (Track 3)
New music supergroup and thought experiment Real Loud is what happens when you take a rock band and then replace the singer with another rock band. Drawing its personnel from a veritable who's-who of New York new music freelancers that would have really preferred to have been rock stars, Real Loud originated as an attempt to combine the European minimalism of Louis Andriessen with American rock vernacular and evolved into earnest self-indulgence in the form of anitphonal chamber metal.
Described as "sleek, new" and "hyper-fluent" by the New York Times, Pascal Le Boeuf is a composer, pianist, and producer whose works range from modern improvised music to cross-breeding classical with production-based technology. He is widely recognized for his polyrhythmic approach to chamber music and hybridization of disparate idioms.
Pascal’s latest project imaginist, is a full-length album collaboration between the JACK Quartet and the Le Boeuf Brothers Quintet (co-led by Remy Le Boeuf). The 9-piece hybridized chamber ensemble was praised by the New Yorker for "clearing their own path, mixing the solid swing of the jazz tradition with hip-hop, indie rock, and the complex techniques of classical modernism". Recent projects include “Media Control” recorded by Hub New Music, “Imp in Impulse” recorded by Barbora Kolářová, “Into the Anthropocene” featuring violist Jessica Meyer and cellist Dave Eggar, “Alpha” recorded by cellist Nick Photinos (Eighth Blackbird) on New Amsterdam Records, “Transition Behavior” recorded by the Shattered Glass String Orchestra, and “Empty Promise” an award-winning short film in collaboration with Four/Ten Media, Goldfeather and Robby Bowen.
As a keyboardist, Pascal has played as support for D’Angelo’s Black Messiah tour and Clean Bandit’s Rather Be tour with Australian pop artist Meg Mac. He actively tours with jazz vocalist Allan Harris, Le Boeuf Brothers, the 15-piece gospel-funk band Jesus On the Mainline, and his piano trio "Pascal's Triangle" featuring bassist Linda May Han Oh, and drummer Justin Brown.
Pascal is a Harold W. Dodds Honorific Fellow and Ph.D. candidate in music composition at Princeton University.
Paul Kerekes is a composer and pianist based in New York City who often confronts and blurs the space between composition and performance. As a co-founding member of Grand Band – a piano sextet described by the New York Times as “a kind of new-music supergroup” – and Invisible Anatomy – an “otherworldly and uncanny” (Village Voice) composer-performer ensemble/collective that’s “shedding labels” (Yale Alumni Magazine) – most of his projects engage and unify these two sometimes-disparate worlds. Both ensembles have had the pleasure of being featured on festivals across the States and abroad – most notably Grand Band’s performance of Kerekes’ first six-piano piece, wither, on The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, which was described as “pointallistic, sparkling, and delicate” by the Kalamazoo Gazette, and Invisible Anatomy’s performance on the Beijing Modern Music Festival, which lead to consequent tours throughout China’s major cities.
Paul’s music has also been described as “gently poetic” (The New York Times), “striking” (WQXR), “highly eloquent” (New Haven Advocate) and he has had the privilege of hearing his pieces performed by many outstanding ensembles, some of which include the American Composers Orchestra, Da Capo Chamber Players, New Morse Code, guitarist Trevor Babb, Thin Edge New Music Collective, Real Loud, andPlay, and Exceptet in such venues as Merkin Hall, (le) poisson rouge, The DiMenna Center, Roulette, Spectrum, and Symphony Space. His compositions and playing have also been featured on NPR’s Performance Today hosted by Fred Child and released on major recording labels such as New Amsterdam Records, Innova, New Focus, and Naxos.
He is a recipient of the Morton Gould Young Composer Award from ASCAP, the JFund Award from the American Composer’s Forum, and the Walter Hinrichsen Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters. Paul is a graduate of Queens College and Yale School of Music and currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.
Brendon Randall-Myers is a Brooklyn-based composer and guitarist with an affinity for complex, cathartic, endurance-based music at various intersections of rock, experimental, theater, and classical. Described as “fiercely aggressive but endlessly compelling” (The San Francisco Chronicle), "intricate and dynamic" (I Care If You Listen), "massive in its impact" (Sarasota Herald-Tribune), and “an exhilarating blast of energy” (Chicago Classical Review), his music aims to induce trance/flow states via repetition and amplification, inspired by experiences on 20-mile runs and performing in punk and metal bands. Brendon has written for classical musicians - pianists (Miki Sawada), string quartets (Friction Quartet), chamber ensembles (Exceptet), and orchestras (Chicago Symphony, Omaha Symphony) - as well for cross-genre/experimental groups like Bang on a Can, Dither, and Bearthoven. His work has received support from the Jerome Foundation, New Music USA, New York State Council for the Arts, the Guitar Foundation of America, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and ASCAP.
Brendon co-leads Invisible Anatomy, a multimedia avant-rock ensemble described as “sometimes haunting sometimes hilarious and consistently mesmerizing,” (I Care If You Listen) and Marateck, “a gripping math-rock band, combining shattered, wiry abstraction with moments of delicate atmosphere” (Tone Madison). He is a member of the Glenn Branca Ensemble, and has conducted the group since Branca’s death in 2018. He is a member of the absurdist art-rock band Ecce Shnak, and performs frequently with avant-electric guitar quartet Dither. As a freelancer, he has played with orchestras (China Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Atlanta Symphony), indie bands (Magik*Magik, Fay Kueen), contemporary classical groups (Ensemble Signal, Contemporaneous), and in operas and experimental theater (Opera Saratoga, Object Collection).
Jenny Beck is a composer and sound designer who works with all manner of sounds and spaces. She collaborates with musicians, dancers, video game designers, and other artists to create immersive and transformative soundscapes. She grew up in rural Pennsylvania where the sounds of the woods stirred her imagination at a young age and has gone on to write music that invites listeners into alternative modes of listening, awareness, and consciousness. Working in an intensely distilled musical language, the goal of which is to forge significance for each sound, her music reflects her interests in nature, ambience, and ambiguity.
Jenny was a 2021 Gaudeamus Prize finalist as well as a 2012-22 Dodds Honorific Fellow at Princeton University. She has participated in workshops, festivals, and residencies including the 2021 RBC BRIDGES Soundstreams’ Workshop for Early Career Composers, Art Farm Nebraska, the Woodstock Guild Byrdcliffe Artist in Residence program, the Florida State University Festival of New Music, the Bowdoin International Music Festival as the Kaplan Fellow in composition, the UC Davis Composition Workshop, the Copland House CULTIVATE Institute with Derek Bermel, the Norfolk New Music Workshop, Atlantic Center for the Arts Residency with Martin Bresnick, June In Buffalo, the Wellesley Composers Conference, the Tanglewood Music Center, and the Weill Music Institute Professional Training Workshop at Carnegie Hall with Kaija Saariaho.
Jenny has worked with a wide range of chamber ensembles and orchestras including Alarm Will Sound, Latitude 49, Metropolis Ensemble, Modern Medieval, Eighth Blackbird, Argus Quartet, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Mise En, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Bearthoven, and SōPercussion. She also performs her own vocal work, is a member of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk), and leads workshops in creative sonic meditation.
Jenny is currently pursuing a PhD at Princeton University.
The fusion of classical composition with heavy metal dates back to some early works by Glenn Branca. That tradition hasn’t lost steam since Branca’s death in 2018, either. This month, John Zorn released a new album of pieces for his metal-adjacent group Simulacrum. (It bears the appropriately gothic title “Nostradamus: The Death of Satan.”)
Another exponent of this trend is the group Real Loud: an electrified chamber sextet of dual guitarists, bassists and drummers. That double-power-trio setup allows composers to keep a certain momentum going, even when decorating a piece with novel material. (Though, moniker aside, the band does not mandate loudness — or even thrashing textures.)
On its self-titled album, released in June on the New Focus imprint, Real Loud plays works by four composers (including Brendon Randall-Myers, a member of the group who has worked as part of Branca’s ensemble). The chosen composers’ approaches are anything but lock step in nature: Pascal Le Boeuf’s “Forbidden Subjects” makes the most of the group’s propulsive qualities, while Jenny Beck’s “Go in Secret” revels in more ambient realms.
— Seth Colter Walls, 8.12.2021
Artists often innovate by evolving a connection between existing genres. That’s a risky business, however, as three recent albums show. All of them sent flares up over the borderlands between contemporary classical music and the rest of the musical world. While this is not an unusual occurrence, these albums piqued my interest for both their fumbles and their successes. They are emblematic of the rocky history of cross-genre work involving musicians of classical background — a history of inventiveness, good intentions, and bad oversights.
In June, crossover contemporary-metal group Real Loud released their eponymous first album, featuring four pieces by Pascal Le Boeuf, Paul Kerekes, Jenny Beck, and Brendon Randall-Myers, who is the only composer who is also part of the band.
Many classically trained musicians and composers want to be involved in music outside of notated concert music simply because most musicians love a lot of different music. And as people from this “classical” side find their ways to become involved in “popular” genres, calling this new music “contemporary classical” feels less and less fitting. It is equally hard to tell if the boundary is being pushed from the classical side to contain new hybridizations — claiming space within another genre or practice — or if the salt circle is truly being smudged or rubbed out entirely.
Within certain genres, however, the tidal interaction between notating composers and popular composers seems easier and more productive, and metal/progressive rock is one of those genres. When you look at the big picture of musical values between heavy metal and the second half of 20th century classical music, individual virtuosity (and velocity), overarching concepts to longer pieces, an aversion to levity, and an interest in exploring the boundary of music and noise are areas of overlap between metal and contemporary classical music. It’s not a big surprise to find out that Frank Zappa was a huge Edgard Varèse fan or that “New York-based antiphonal chamber metal band” Real Loud exists, and that their first album manages to not feel caught between two genres. I happily headbanged to Brendon Randall-Myers’s 15-minute epic Double-Double.
Even in the more floaty and spatial tracks by Jenny Beck and Paul Kerekes — both focusing on the audio play between left and right speakers, both invested in texture and sustain — there is precedent for this kind of work in the sphere of Fluxus, Lou Reed, and Sonic Youth. While Beck’s dock of ghost ships Go in Secret and the BMX bike with no brakes that is Le Boeuf’s Forbidden Subjects would seem to be placed in vastly separated music cultures, they really are punk house roommates, both now and historically.
Real Loud doesn’t suffer from the awkwardness that cross-genre projects often do because it’s simply not crossing genre in any vital way. It’s basically a Progressive Metal album. It was probably easy for these highly trained and versatile players — Tristan Kasten-Krause and Evan Runyon on bass guitar, James Moore and Brendon Randall-Myers on electric guitar, and Mark Sauer-Utley and Clara Warnaar on drums — to find each other.
— Tamzin Elliott, 9.19.2021
Playing live, Real Loud fill the room to the brim with thrashing sound. They play complex composed music at maximum volume — a volume so loud it almost obfuscates the painstaking detail of the music. They describe themselves as an "antiphonal chamber metal" band, and in their commitment to sheer sonic magnitude and rhythmic complexity, they live up to the name, taking clear inspiration from pioneering composers like Glenn Branca and Louis Andriessen. On their self-titled debut, they showcase four premieres by today's composers working in this gritty musical style.
In its varying states of dissonance and consonance and loudness and softness, Real Loud also presents different compositional approaches. Pascal Le Boeuf's opening piece "Forbidden Subjects" builds on virtuosic shredding and dark rhythms to reach a blown-out pinnacle. Paul Kerekes's wildly different "Codependence" immediately follows, bringing a slower, sparser style to the table, where faint guitar plucks echo into each other as energy fades away. And Jenny Beck's "Go In Secret" presents yet another style: hollow, haunted echoes and creaks float in laidback rhythms, sliced open by a crunchy electric guitar only to eventually fizzle away.
All the pieces exhibit meticulous attention to detail and a relentless commitment to reaching the apex of volume, but it's Brendon Randall-Myers's "Double Double" that steals the show. Channelling the fervour of his metal and no wave roots into a yearning explosion, this is music that traps potential energy and spits it back out in pieces.
— Vanessa Ague, 8.04.2021
The self-titled debut from New York’s “antiphonal chamber metal band” Real Loud showcases the many ways composers can write for mirrored electric basses, electric guitars, and drum sets. The album features four premieres that each explore a different sonic palette. Pascal Le Boeuf’s “Forbidden Subjects” channels metal currents, rippling with crashing noise, while Jenny Beck’s “Go In Secret” takes on a much more sparse texture, exploring ominous, far away melodies. All celebrate the versatility and explosive potential of a group like Real Loud.
— Vanessa Ague, 1.12.2022
Real Loud describes themselves as an “antiphonal chamber metal band”, and their self-titled debut features a double trio of musicians with Tristan Kasten-Krause and Evan Runyon on bass, James Moore and Brendon Randall-Myers on guitar, and Mark Sauer-Utley and Clara Warnaar on drums & percussion. This unusual lineup allows them to approach four pieces from Pascal Le Boeuf, Paul Kerekes, Randall-Myers, and Jenny Beck in a spatial manner. Each trio appears to be dedicated to the left and right channels, respectively, and they use this separation to employ contrapuntal, de-synchronized, and call-and-response motifs. This music is disjointed, complex, and aggressive, having more in common with that of Glenn Branca and Roger Trigaux’s Present than any conventional metal band. In particular, the overlap of speed picking and orchestral percussion stylings is quite compelling.
— Mike Borella, 8.21.2021