Thursday, March 4, 2010

crossing over

Jónsi - Go Do from Jónsi on Vimeo.

Although I try not to dabble in pop criticism (for lack of experience, if anything), I recommend you all head over to Jónsi's website and check out the tracks from his upcoming album. Nico Muhly did all the arrangements; Boy Lilkoi (the last track under the streaming audio) has a crazy, speaking-in-tongues piccolo freakout that can only be described as ecstatic. This is the place where pop and classical properly intersect, where the artists on each side bring their A-game to create something everyone can be proud of and happy with. It negates the word crossover, because neither musician really leaves his comfort zone--it's a natural, organic progression of their talents.

Nico writes a bit about the creation of the album here, and after reading that I realize where I got both "speaking in tongues" and "ecstatic". Well at least if I steal, I steal from the original source--what better critic than the composer?

Speaking of things-better-than-crossovers, Corey Dargel will be performing his new song cycle Thirteen Near-Death Experiences accompanied by ICE next Saturday at The Velvet Lounge. This is one of my most-anticipated events this year---if you were hip on the classical (dare I say, alt-classical?) scene you may have followed the creation of the work on Dargel's blog, where you can now hear audio samples and watch video from the New York premiere.


  1. I hate to break it to you, but that's not crossover music because it's just pop music. Granted, it's better produced than most, but just because Muhly did it, doesn't make it any less pop.

    Other non-crossover crossovers that are better examples of what you're talking about are:
    Beck - Sea Change: Lonesome Tears, et al
    St. Vincent - Actor: Black Rainbow
    Sufjan Stevens (often channelling Reich)
    My Brightest Diamond - Disappear
    And you should definitely check out Sigur Ros.

  2. Well, you have Muhly adding orchestral flourishes to pop (and obviously that word is used loosely as well), which is something I would consider, if not crossing over, at least giving a classical edge to non-classical music. Better examples of Muhly's "crossover" (again, not necessarily the right word) work are his "The Only Tune" with Sam Amidon, and his work with Valgeir on Valgeir's album Equilibrium.

    Another good example of this genre-bending would be Gabriel Kahane's self-titled album, which lies somewhere between singer-songwriter rock and traditional art song.