The Living Earth Show’s debut album, High Art, begins with a blues lick gone awry – a hit cymbal and a pitch-bent guitar – and ends with electronics eating themselves. In between, the Living Earth Show — two Bay Area Indie-Classicists with a cult following — crafts an album that stretches the definitions of “art” and “popular” music. High Art navigates the traditions of classical, rock and roll, blues, and electronic music, stitching them into to a groundbreaking statement on the past, present, and future of American music.
Although the duo of Travis Andrews (electric guitar) and Andy Meyerson (drums/percussion) wields the building blocks of American popular music from the last half-century, High Art is a classical record first and foremost, albeit with a Left Coast attitude. The ensemble commissioned four of the most talented young American composers to conjure ambient wonders, creating a dialogue between contemporary classical and laid-back popular music, as well as elements of sound manipulation and electro-acoustics.
Samuel Carl Adams’ “Tension Study 1” transports the listener to a sound world where spectral snapshots of blues gestures float through outer space, bathed in electronic resonance, eventually coalescing in a cinematic and explosive payoff of glitchy, cathartic guitar and drums.
The deceptively complex technical virtuosity required by Timo Andres’ “You broke it, you bought it” belies the hypnotically subtle textures that seamlessly meld the guitar and vibraphone. The album’s centerpiece, Adrian Knight’s “Family Man,” is a simultaneously beautiful and hauntingly heavy bitcrushed symphony, located at the intersection of Morton Feldman and Sigur Ros. Like Steve Reich fronting Sepultura, Jon Russell’s “Repetitive Stress” is a primitively heavy, ear-splitting minimalistic rocker of a chamber music composition, highlighting the players’ experience with San Francisco’s metal troupe Freighter. The album concludes with Samuel Adams’ “Tension Study 2,” a piece both beautiful and mechanical, perhaps like a dove being eaten by the Internet?
Comprised of guitarist Travis Andrews, percussionist Andrew Meyerson, and a bevy of electronic accoutrements, The Living Earth Show is a San Francisco-based classical duo. Called “a vanguard effort of new chamber music” (San Francisco Examiner), “a much-sought-after presence on the indie classical scene” (SF Classical Voice), and “a fantastically distorted perpetual motion of awesome” (icareifyoulisten.com), The Living Earth Show has been presenting dynamic performances of electro-acoustic contemporary classical compositions since 2010.
The Living Earth Show’s 2013 season will include a slew of new commissions, collaborations, recordings, and performances. The ensemble will be presenting the world premieres of compositions written for the group by such composers as Ken Ueno, Dan Becker, Luciano Chessa, Nick Vasallo, Chris Cerrone, Juraj Kojs, and Andy Akiho. The season will also feature the United States premiere of Brian Ferneyhough’s Renvoi/Shards, written in 2008 for quartertone vibraphone and quartertone electric guitar. The group will also be working in collaboration with Sqwonk, America’s favorite bass clarinet duo, to perform and record a new transcription for guitar, percussion, and two bass clarinets of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. In March of 2013, the Living Earth Show will be releasing its debut album, White Blood Cells, featuring works written for the ensemble by Samuel Carl Adams, Timothy Andres, Adrian Knight, and Jon Russell. In addition to performances and masterclasses around the country, the duo will be an ensemble in residence at the Center for New Music in San Francisco.
When not performing as The Living Earth Show, Andrew and Travis deftly navigate the complicatedly hyphenated subgenres of the contemporary popular music landscape as members of experimental chamber-indie band Makeunder, electro-pop outfit Tim Carr and the The Dumpy Broads, and thrash avant-metal power trio Freighter. The Living Earth Show is a fiscally-sponsored affiliate of the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music.