Information about Susan Stenger and THE BROOD

Note: The following is taken from the press release for the event described.

The Brood is a unique gathering of musicians from the worlds of rock, electronics and improvisation that will band together to play a program of classic American experimental music on Wednesday, November 6, 1996 at the Purcell Room. It is part of the South Bank's American Independents festival which is already underway.

The idea for The Brood was conceived by Susan Stenger, best known as a member of the American drone rock pioneers Band of Susans. To her, "experimental classics are often performed as novelty numbers on a conventional chamber group's otherwise tired, academic program. The Brood represents an attempt to wrench this music back into a vital context by drawing its performers from several generations, all with a common love a good circuit, a good noise, a good drone."

Susan Stenger hand picked musicians from both sides of the Atlantic who she felt were ideally suited to play the six chosen pieces of music. These include long-standing Band of Susans cohort Robert Poss, Sonic Boom (ex-Spaceman 3), Justine Frischmann from Elastica, Bruce Gilbert and Robert Grey from groundbreaking punk originals Wire, and the ubiqitous Terry Edwards (a member of Gallon Drunk and sometime arranger for the likes of Julian Cope and Tindersticks). The Brood also features techno-scavenger Scanner (Robin Rimbaud), Finnish lo-fi electronicists Panasonic, electric violinist Kaffe Mathews and American avant-diva Shelly Hirsch.

For the musicians involved it is an exciting opportunity to play with people outside of their usual territory and as Justine Frischmann commented, the cross-breeding also helps to "dispel the notion that this type of thing has to be elitist and arty."

The program for the night includes works by Alvin Lucier, Christian Wolff, John Cage, LaMonte Young, Phill Niblock and Rhys Chatham.

"They are all essential works with musical innovators of American experimental music. Alvin Lucier was a pioneer in the use of home-made electronics and thus is a perfect pairing with Panasonic (who said the performance would be 'the peak of our career'). Christian Wolff and John Cage worked together closely in the 1950s, developing new techniques of composing and notating their music, including indeterminacy and graphic scores. The pieces I chose reflect the way their music eventually diverged, Wolff's towardcareful listening and collaboration and Cage's towards simultaneous unrelated 'sonic events'."

"Varying approaches to minimalism and the use of drones are reflected in the program's second half; LaMonte Young's pure, perfectly tuned intervals, Phill Niblock's massive wall of 'detuned' drones, and Rhys Chatham's unleashing of the essence of rock guitar's most basic building block -- the E chord."

Susan Stenger's career straddles both the rock and experimental camps. She first encountered the music of John Cage in Buffalo, New York in the midst of high school years spent playing flute in local rock bands. This led her to change course dramatically and spend the next few years training at the Academy of Music in Prague, after which she settled in New York. There she joined Petr Kotik's SEM Ensemble and worked extensively with many of the composers on the program as well as performing her own music.

In honor of John Cage's 70th birthday she participated in major performances at the Whitney Museum in New York and throughout Europe. In 1986 she began playing electric guitar in Rhys Chatham's ensemble and soon after she and Robert Poss formed Band of Susans, which incorporated minimalism and drones into rock song forms, much as Wire and Elastica have also done in various ways. Band of Susans went on to release two EPs and five LPs before disbanding in 1995.

The pool of musicians drawn from throughout the evening is:

Susan Stenger -- electric bass/flutes
Terry Edwards -- sax/trumpet
Justine Frischmann -- electric guitar
Bruce Gilbert -- turntables
Robert Grey -- percussion
Shelley Hirsch -- voice
Kaffe Matthews -- electric violin
Phill Niblock -- sampler
Panasonic -- electronics
Robert Poss -- electric guitar
Scanner -- electronics
Sonic Boom -- electric guitar

Justine Frischmann of Elastica (live with THE BROOD)

The program is as follows:

Alvin Lucier -- Music On A Long Thin Wire (1977) [Panasonic]
Christian Wolff -- Music For 1, 2, or 3 People (1964) [Terry Edwards, Kaffe Matthews, Susan Stenger]
John Cage -- Simultaneous performances of Fontana Mix (1958) [Scanner], Concert For Piano and Orchestra (1957-8) [Terry Edwards, Kaffe Matthews, Susan Stenger], and Aria (1958) [Shelly Hirsch]
LaMonte Young -- Composition 1960 #7 [Robert Poss, Susan Stenger]
Phill Niblock -- Guitar Too, For Four (1996) UK Premiere [Justine Frischmann, Sonic Boom, Robert Poss, Susan Stenger, Phill Niblock]
Rhys Chatham -- Guitar Trio (1977) [Justine Frischmann, Sonic Boom, Robert Poss, Robert Grey]

The evening continues in the foyer with a "Chance DJ" session courtesy of Bruce Gilbert (aka The Beekeeper). Bruce will be provided with a selection of CDs of American experimental classics which he has neither seen nor heard before. All titles will be blacked out for maximum unpredictability!

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