New Spaces/New Formats experiments with music

Lee Tusman will spin SLOW music on Tuesday, for 12 hours straight.
Lee Tusman will spin SLOW music on Tuesday, for 12 hours straight.

For the next week, the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage’s New Spaces/New Formats festival will find members of the local music community performing in and around historic Christ Church and experimenting with unusual approaches. But it kicks off at 10 a.m. tomorrow with a 12-hour radio broadcast — a performance without a space, in a format familiar to anyone who’s ever dialed up a classic rock station during a Sunday drive.

But Lee Tusman’s SLOW FM does fit the festival’s theme: It’s a pirate radio broadcast, thereby seizing hold of its own space, as well as being an online broadcast which will be archived afterwards. And then there’s the music itself, which won’t sound like anything Sirius has to offer. Tusman will spin a half-day’s worth of SLOW music, a genre that he likens to the slow food movement and that’s dedicated to slowing down music to often absurd degrees, and either using that in the creation of new work or simply presenting the decelerated sounds on their own.

“The style has influenced the contemporary hip-hop and electronic movement, both in the experimental music scenes as well as on mainstream radio,” Tusman says. “You can find Drake and Kanye West productions slowed down and officially released, but you can also find slowed-down experimental music albums, subcultural music, even experimental jazz, hip-hop and ambient music. SLOW FM is an attempt to draw connections between all of these different things musically, artistically and conceptually.”

Search YouTube and you’ll find Justin Bieber hits slowed 800 percent to sound like mysterious Sigur Rós tunes. “They actually sound quite beautiful,” Tusman says. On SLOW FM, pieces like that will share space with the music of slow hip-hip pioneer DJ Screw and newly commissioned music and mixes by contemporary classical, hip-hop and experimental music artists like Tim Hecker, Lawrence English, Lil ‘Merica and Ulalume.

“To some degree it’s a big mishmash,” Tusman admits, “but because it’s slow it will sound like a really beautiful accumulation of sometimes warbly but often ethereal music.”

The lineup
The remainder of the week’s festival will feature a number of equally unusual offerings. Christ Church music director Parker Kitterman will guide visitors into the bell tower to examine the inner workings of the church’s organ and co-lead a Sacred Harp sing-along, while King Britt will step out of his usual club environment to improvise electronic music at Christ Church Neighborhood House. The Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra will explore the dialogues that happen with a string quartet performance, while Jesse Kudler and Chris Forsyth will premiere a piece for acoustic guitar, electronics, speakers and organ in Christ Church’s sanctuary. On Saturday, new music ensemble Relache and dance company <fidget> will perform at the church’s burial ground at 5th and Arch.

New Spaces/New Formats
Sept. 24-29
Christ Church
20 N. American St.
Christ Church Burial Ground
5th and Arch streets
Free, some with RSVP, 267-350-4960
www.newspacesnewformats.com


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