Wednesday, January 14, 2015

DC Album Release Party 1/24/15 for Baltimore's Musical Alchemist Jonathan Badger, w/ Anthony Pirog & Luke Stewart

Baltimore's Musical Alchemist Jonathan Badger's Verse Release Party in Washington DC
January 24, 2015

The Guitarist & Electronic Musician Jonathan Badger comes to DC on January 24, 2015
in support of 
Versehis Cuneiform Records debut appearing with stalwarts of the DC music scene,
Cuneiform label-mate and fellow guitarist 
Anthony Pirog; and multi-instrumentalist, radio DJ and writer Luke Stewart

Concert Details
Saturday, January 24, 2015
The Velvet Lounge
915 U Street NW
Washington, DC
Doors 7:30pm | Show 9pm | 21+ | $8


Jonathan Badger
(Jonathan Badger Verse – Cuneiform Records)
(Author: Sophocles and the Politics of Tragedy: The Transcendence of Cities)
also appearing:

DC guitarist & electronic musician
Anthony Pirog
(Anthony Pirog – Palo Colorado Dream – Cuneiform Records)
(Janel and Anthony – Where is Home – Cuneiform Records)

DC jazz/experimental multi-instrumentalist, radio DJ, and music writer/concert organizer
Luke Stewart(Laughing Man / Trio OOO / WPFW/ CapitalBop)

PRESS CONTACT INFORMATIONrequests should be sent to:
Cuneiform Records Publicity & Promotion (director, publicity and promotion)

Album Details:



Cat. #: Rune 394, Format: CD / LP / DIGITAL DOWNLOAD
Genre: Rock / Electronic / Experimental, Release Date: September 30, 2014
Verse Track Listing:
1. St Lucy’s Day  (2:48)
2. Dotter  (3:03)
3. It came down from the night and stood
on the porch until I invited it in for tea
4. The Bear (2:15)
5. Nimbus  (4:31)
6. The Valley of the Shadow  (4:56)
7. Limbec  (6:43)
8. Bouge (3:17)
9. Erbarmen  (6:23)
10. Sickle’s Compass Come  (3:31)

Jonathan Badger: 
Electric and acoustic guitars, banjo, piano, computer, sundry percussion.

also appearing on Verse
Ruby Fulton - Flugelhorn
Patrick McMinn - Trumpet
Tiffany DeFoe - Tenor and baritone saxophones
Shodekeh - Human beatbox
Alexandra and Victoria - the Sisters Wick - Mezzo sopranos
Michael Gates - Violin
Sasha Keen - Cello

Recorded at High Horse Studios, Baltimore, autumn 2013.
Mastered by Thomas Dimuzio at Gench Studios, San Francisco.
Photography by Jonathan Badger.
Package design by Bill Ellsworth.
When is a guitar not a guitar? When it's played by the inimitable Jonathan Badger. Not that he doesn't have a solid grounding in the six-string essentials -- Badger's been playing guitar since age 5, and has studied under none other than King Crimson mastermind Robert Fripp. But his astonishing approach to the guitar is so unlike anyone else's that he might almost as well be playing an entirely different instrument. (In a way, he is, as you'll learn in a moment.) On his stunning third studio album (and first for Cuneiform), Verse, Badger proves that if you want to make the kind of music no one's ever heard before, you've got to invent your own world from the ground up.  Nourished by Baltimore’s vibrant experimental music scene, Badger has created an artistic universe that is technologically unprecedented, radically multidisciplinary, conceptually fascinating, and musically captivating.  The music on Verse, says Badger, “flows in the post-rock and minimalist veins of contemporary music,” while the concepts that fertilize it derive from ancient philosophical and poetic tracts that he had explored in his recently published book.

If you want a little peek behind the wizard's cape, Badger's basic approach involves sending two signals out of his guitar -- one is a standard analog signal that generates relatively conventional guitar tones, but the other is a digital feed that runs through a computer system he programmed himself (naturally) to trigger samples from a broad array of orchestral instruments.

That's the setup that powers VerseHis rig has evolved a lot since 2006's Metasonic (on his own High Horse label) and 2010's Unsung Stories from Lily's Days as a Solar Astronaut (MT6 Records), not to mention his live releases, Taps (2007) and Summer Electra (2011), both on High Horse. But for Verse, Badger expanded his sonic universe. While his own unique system's bewitching (and at times even bewildering) bounty of sonic sources dominates the album, he also employs other players to augment his musical palette further still, bringing in brass, strings, and even a beatboxer.

Badger's fondness for inserting himself into surprising circumstances goes all the way back to his college days, during which he was commissioned to compose both a ballet (On Wings of Angels, premiered in Berlin and performed in Dallas and Atlanta) and an opera (Dance of the Spiders, at Boston's Emerson College). Soon after college, Badger began formal study of philosophy and earned his PhD in political philosophy from Fordham University. His dissertation was on Nietzsche’s interpretation of Plato. In the middle of that work, he returned to music in an academic setting, and studied at the graduate level at Duke University with Steven JaffeScott Lindroth and John Harbison.

But it was after he began working as a professor at St. John's College in Annapolis, MD that Badger's path took a turn that profoundly informed his artistic vision. He became intensely involved in the Guitar Craft school founded by Robert Fripp. Over a seven-year period, Badger eagerly assimilated Guitar Craft's combination of musical and philosophical principles, while taking a number of courses with Fripp himself, in the U.S., Argentina, and Italy.

Not only did this experience turn his head around aesthetically, on a more pragmatic level it led him to working with his fellow Guitar Craft students in various groups in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area. But it wasn't long before he found his own voice -- one so daringly individual that it led him to work in a strictly solo format… until now.

Badger published a book, Sophocles and the Politics of Tragedy: Cities and Transcendence (2012: Routledge Press) that explored his ideas about the interaction of artistic and philosophical ideas. But Verse takes that intersection to a new level. Discussing the concept, he explains, "The idea of verse points beyond poetry and philosophy to that which stands in unity behind their apparent separateness."

"This album is a musical version of the ideas I worked through in the book," says Badger. He describes Verse as both "emblematic of mortality" and possessing "rich layers of dark and light." Even the track titles on the mostly instrumental album illustrate Badger's knack for juxtaposition, such as the combination of hominess and horror inherent in the tune "It came down from the night and stood on the porch until I invited it in for tea," a cut where unearthly explosions of sound share space with meditative drones and angular but almost endearingly clunky piano splashes.

In a similar manner, musing on "The Bear," Badger suggests that "Bears are cuddly but also extremely deadly," adding mordantly, "Children like to sleep with them." Taking the contrasting-concepts theme even further, Badger brings the inhuman and the humane together on this track through the unlikely device of the banjo. "The banjo on 'Bear' is in duet with the computer," he reveals. "The computer mimics the banjo waveform, producing a jaunty electronic burble."

As a thinking man's guitar anti-hero, Badger could be seen as the latest link in a chain that reaches back to forward-looking six-string iconoclasts like Frank Zappa, Richard Pinhas, and Badger's old teacher, Robert Fripp. But anyone who has absorbed the fractal electronic visions of electronica pioneers like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, or been bowled over by the eclectic post-rock sound constructions of Tortoise or Godspeed You! Black Emperor should be able to find their way into Badger's bewitching world.

And throughout Verse, the musical DNA of Badger's guitar recombines in a constant, kaleidoscopic fashion, melding the organic and the electronic in ever-shifting dynamics. At the same time, Badger's own efforts intertwine with the interjections of his guests on trumpet, sax, violin, cello, and more. The sound all these elements make together bears elements of everything from post-rock to avant-garde experimentalism and contemporary classical composition, but for all these seeming disparities, Verse undeniably offers up a journey.

"The first part of the record is naive and blithe-minded," says Badger, "but gives way to somber recognition," much like the trip we take through life itself.  For the trip to be a memorable one, though, you need a unique guide, and it's abundantly clear that the sonic Sherpa leading you through Verse is about as 
uncommon as they come.


If you'd like to share music from this release with your readers/listeners, please feel free to use the following track:




HIGH-RES PROMO PHOTOS // photo credit: Kitty Charlton

Requests for interviews, album promo, and other information should be sent to:

Cuneiform Records Publicity & Promotion (director, press & foreign radio)
tel. 301-589-8894
P.O. Box 8427
Silver Spring, MD 20907-842
[Washington, D.C.]

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