Particularly notable about Aether is its focus on texture in place of melody. “I find that melody often functions as a musical equivalent to language, it mimics speech in a certain way that communicates ideas, narratives, and emotion.” This sentiment echoes throughout the album’s four tracks. Just like Bertucci used the bunker as a studio, Metal Aether uses the studio as a major component of the recording. Beyond the bases of environment and timbre, not much else exists in the albums vacuum. In turn, one could call the album minimalist. Dig your fingers deeper into the meditative spaces, and you’ll find almost the opposite to be true.
“I like music where people aren’t conscious of the fact that they’re mixing things up,” Healy explains about his ideals in bending audience expectation. There aren’t many young people that are content with sticking to one genre, so it’s natural that the relatively young Healy is able to stay grounded in a handful of traditions. If you let him get you on his wavelength, ShoutHouse becomes one of New York’s finest interdisciplinary acts.
You want to ask what the band’s contemporaries are. You want to know how they can involve so many people without the project falling apart. You want to know how two of its artists can survive in a school bus.
Having played piano since the age of five as well as a slew of other instruments, it’s a cinch Betz ended up at St. Olaf studying composition. “There was no distinct moment where I realized composition was right for me. It all just came together.”
The marriage of JFund’s resources and Wells’ ingenuity isn’t likely one you’d have found fifty years ago in classical music. But its reverence for technology, and the overall refusal to remove the human element not only represents a stronger artistic medium but actively pushes it forward.
Los Angeles-based Jerome Fund awardee Leaha Maria Villareal talks about musician relationships with tranquility in her voice. She composes music for Hotel Elefant, an ensemble that takes on the difficult task of representing music from living composers. “‘Modern Music’ is already solidified,” she explains. “There’s a canon for it, but it hasn’t yet included works that are being written today. So, how do we support the contemporary music of our colleagues?”
Social inequity is being discussed in the mainstream more and more frequently, and the music industry is not an exception. “When people have opportunities, those build upon one another. But if you never have that opportunity…people may think you must not be good, and that’s unfair.”
Like JMW Turner’s maritime images, Petuch’s art likely wouldn’t have been appreciated for its full weight in the mid-19th century. Be they nonlinear plots, broad brushstrokes, or mixing strings with harsh electronics, these are abstract and unconventional methods. Petuch makes this idiom work by attaching recognizable themes like the passage of time or a famous whale. “8p is like one chord and they can play it as long as they want.” Naturally, you won’t hear the notes and immediately think of early evening. However, we can meditate on the piece and make those connections ourselves. What exactly does this piece represent? We’ll let our ears tell us.
Merz has set himself apart as a composer through his willingness to deemphasize his own talents in favor of accessibility. “Virtuosity is tied up with the classical tradition, and I’m looking for ways to subvert that. I’d rather get the emotion out of the technique rather than show off the technique.” Instead of championing his own specific narrative, he’s creating pieces that further the classical and electronic music traditions without having to lean on their complexity. As with the inclusivity of Mediated Intimacy, Merz is extending his arms outward toward lovers of art instead of drawing boundaries between them.
“I guess you could say it has elements of film music,” Mark humbly quips about a few of his works. If he’d gone down the standard path of film composition, it might be his name flashing on the big screen after everyone’s left the theater. Even calling him a film composer is way off the mark. Instead, we’ve got his name behind pieces that have a tangible human component to them, be they an interview with someone who lives with a double lung transplant or a reimagining of history’s emotional weight. An artist’s artist, Brian Mark is an intelligent, modern composer who employs many media elements and does so with marked idiosyncrasy and depth.