A MERGE GROUP – ” V-2 Schneider / Beauty and the Beast “

Posted: February 10, 2019 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , ,

In October of 2015, I got an email from Amy Russell, the Director of Programming at Carolina Performing Arts. She told me about a celebration of Philip Glass’ 80th birthday planned for January of 2017 and asked if I would want to be involved somehow—and without knowing what that would entail, I just said “yes.” Soon she proposed pairing a symphonic performance of Glass’ Symphony No. 4, which is based on David Bowie’s “Heroes” album, with a rock performance of the Bowie album.

This was an exciting idea, but performing an album straight in its entirety always feels a little boring to me because everyone familiar with the record knows what’s coming next… but in Glass’ case, his symphony does not adhere strictly to the track listing of the original Bowie album, which meant that we didn’t need to, either. I was mostly excited about being able to collaborate with musicians I don’t normally get to play with, and to play this amazing music with them.

Three months later, David Bowie’s death hit everyone hard and we discussed whether to move ahead, but as 2016 progressed, Bowie’s music only seemed more important. When everyone I asked to take part said “yes” immediately even though the concert was a year away and we didn’t know what shape it would take it was a good sign.

Eventually, we settled on a set list that was a combination of Glass’ (which added “Abdulmajid” to the album’s tracks) and our own desire to hear Dan Bejar sing “Beauty and the Beast” and “Joe the Lion,” which Glass left off his.

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Brad Cook, Joe Westerlund, and I got together once or twice to learn the songs because we knew we would only have one real rehearsal with the whole band. When DanWilliam Tyler, and Ken Vandermark descended upon Chapel Hill and Jenn Wasner returned from tour, we had a great day figuring out how to play these songs all together, and convened for the performance the next day in ornate Memorial Hall.

Halfway through soundcheck on the day of the performance, we learned that all water in the town of Chapel Hill was deemed unsafe to drink due to a water main break and a pump failure in the great Orange County water system. UNC campus had to be abandoned, and the show was cancelled. We staged a secret last-minute performance at the Pinhook (in Durham, where the water is always safe) just because we wanted to play this record, but the actual show at Memorial Hall was postponed by a month. So the recording you hear is actually our band reunion and the second-ever performance of A Merge Group. And the “Heroes” on the record is our version of Glass’ version of Bowie’s classic record. So much fun to play, and I’m glad there’s a document. From Mac McCaughan:

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Dan Bejar started Destroyer as a solo home-recording project in the early to mid-nineties. Exploring and overturning genres such as glam, MIDI, yacht rock, and even underground Spanish independent artists, Bejar was proclaimed “Rock’s Exiled King” . His is a body of work that consistently flouts convention in favor of musical leaps of faith, statements of purpose cloaked in subterfuge, and the joyous refrain of an optimist’s heart cloaked in cynicism.

Released by :Merge Records Release date: 8th February 2019

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