So Percussion‘s new album, nAnP [neither Anvil nor Pulley], was released this week digitally and…otherwise.

The album is about 45 minutes long, and offers a single piece broken into five movements, scored for a turntable (which plays an LP of old-timey fiddle tunes performed by the piece’s composer, Dan Trueman); virtual metronomes, clicking relentlessly but reset by striking raw chunks of wood; repurposed golf video game controllers—joysticks with pull-strings, a.k.a. “the tethers”; a single bass drum with speaker drivers attached; drum machines; and of course the four percussionists who make up So Percussion. The piece conjures a pinging, rattling, booming, but ultimately very gentle and spacious sound-world, closer to the quieter moments of Aphex Twin, Autechre or Photek than anything “classical” (though parts of it also remind me of Steve Reich and of Chinese ritual music). It’s really a remarkable piece, one of the most unique and fascinating works I’ve heard so far this year.

The five movements are:

Act 1: Another Wallflower [from Long Ago]

Act 2: 120bpm [or, What is your Metronome Thinking?]

Act 3: A Cow Call [please oh Please Come Home!]

Act 4: Feedback [in Which a Famous Bach Prelude becomes Ill-Tempered]

Act 5: Hang Dog Springar [a Slow Dance]

If you just want the MP3s, you can get them via Amazon or iTunes, as you would with any other record. But they’re also offering a couple of cool physical-object options ranging in price from $20 to $200, and available via bangonacan.org:

– a repurposed LP from a used record store [video explanation/demonstration here]: On the front and back of each LP, the nAnP artwork (designed by Frank Olinsky) is affixed as a sticker. Inside is the original used record (original music to be discovered) plus a download card with link to the digital booklet for nAnP.

– an interactive speaker driver [video explanation/demonstration here]. The device used to create feedback on the bass drum in the fourth movement, along with the download card and link to the digital booklet. Package includes 1/8” cables that can be plugged into an iPod or computer to interact with the piece.

– an interactive tether controller [video explanation/demonstration here]. The golf video game controllers used in 120bpm to play sound files, along with the download card, link to the digital booklet, and a link to download custom playable software by Dan Trueman.

Phil Freeman

Here’s a video of the full piece:

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