It takes a leap of faith -- and almost a meditative state -- in order to fall into the groove of a 45-minute percussion-and-synthesizer-based performance piece.
Put the performance within the rotunda of the Guggenheim and feature the former frontman of experimental post-rock act Battles' Tyondai Braxton, and that leap of faith becomes much easier to digest.
'HIVE' is the name of the project which puts Braxton, musician Ben Vida and three percussionists, literally on a pedestal. Last night at the Guggenheim, the five musicians sat crosslegged on top of 'pod-like' platforms which Danish architect and carpenter Uffe Surland Van Tams designed for the piece.
From afar, the echoey, guttural sounds acted as more of a backdrop to the pristene Guggenheim rotunda and crowd of fashionistas. But hone in on the dynamic drum-and-electronic patterns from the focused musicians and it became very easy to get aurally lost.
It's not the first time that Braxton exhibited his more experimental side. After studying composition in college, he has since worked with influential composer Phillip Glass and NYC classical music association Bang on a Can. He premieres another composition, entitled 'Alarm Will Sound' at Carnegie Hall on April 6.
In a noiser part of the set, Braxton's nod made him seem almost one with the sounds coming out of his synthesizer -- or maybe just the wires draping across his 'pod.'
It definitely is a nice breath of fresh air for an acclaimed indie act to show off his 'high art' side in an ever pop-focused world. If anything, Braxton helps to meld the sphere of pop music with truly 'experimental music.' The jury's out on what -- if anything -- that accomplishes.