Chris Brown
(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris Brown (1953) combines ancient instruments and modern electronics in his compositions. A pianist educated at the western classical music, and a student of Gordon Mumma and David Rosenboom, he performs pieces which mix home-made electronic instruments and ethnic (Indonesian, Indian, African, Cuban) instruments, and employs the kind of improvisation typical of free-jazz.

Brown was a member of Room (with percussionist William Winant, saxophonist Larry Ochs, electronic sound sculptor Scott Gresham-Lancaster), that released Room (december 1987 - Sound Aspects, 1989) and Hall of Mirrors (may 1991 - Music and Arts, 1992), of the Glenn Spearman Double Trio, that released Mystery Project (august 1992 - Black Saint, 1993), Smokehouse (november 1993 - Black Saint, 1994) and The Fields (november 1994), Blues for Falasha (june 1997 - Tzadik, 1999); of the Hub, an ensemble of computer-based musicians (John Bischoff, Tim Perkis, Chris Brown, Scot Gresham-Lancaster, Mark Trayle, Phil Stone) that coined "computer network music" (their computers are connected while they perform) and that released Computer Network Music (Artifact, 1989), Wreckin' Ball (Artifact, 1994) and Non Stop Flight (Music & Arts, 1998) with the Deep Listening Band; of the Natto Quartet (Philip Gelb on shakuhachi, Shoko Hikage on koto, Tim Perkis on electronics), that released the improvisations of Headlands (august 2002 - 482 Music, 2003). of the Fuzzybunny, a trio with Tim Perkis and Scot Gresham-Lancaster that released Fuzzybunny (Sonore, 2001),

Recordings of Brown's installations include: Snakecharmer (Artifact, 1989), Lava (Tzadik, 1995) for brass quartet, percussion quartet and four channels of computer music, Duets (Artifact, 1996), Waves (Sparkling Beatnik, 1999), Talking Drum (Sonore, 2001), for networked laptop computers run by software that generates cyclical polyrhythms (first performed in 1996), Transmission Temescal (Artship, 2002) for 20 boomboxes and clock radios.

Branches (Ecstatic Peace, 2002) contains two pieces for live electroacoustic instruments and improvisors: Branches (2001) for piano, percussion, DJ and computer generated grooves ; and Alternating Currents (1983), a triple concerto for home-made electronic percussion instruments, trombone and percussion.

His Eternal Network Music for live synthesis software was performed in 1999.

He has also composed Inventions for "polyrhythm-generating software".

Transmissions for four radio transmitters interacting with an audience equipped with portable radios, debuted in 2002.

Thousand Oaks (june 2004) featured Philip Gelb on shakuhachi, Shoko Hikage on koto and Tim Perkis on electronics.

Talking Drum (Pogus, 2005) is a compilation of 27 Brown works, recorded between 1991 and 1999. (The title is misleading because it only includes brief excerpts from the namesake installation of "computer network music"). Many sound like tributes to percussion styles (Rumba Quinto, Mariwo Chant). Others are veritable cubist ballets (Tennis Court, Invention #5) for the age of videogames. Some are wildly disjointed and dissonant (Invention #3, Invention #1) and others sound like, basically, musique concrete for field recordings and found voices (Honda Bay, Frogs in Irrigation Canals, Invention #4, and especially Quiapo Market District).
It is debatable if a series of brief (very brief) excerpts (some lasting less than one minute) is a good introduction to the artist, but certainly this compilation covers a lot of ground.

The triple-disc Boundary Layer (Tzadik, 2008) collects the recordings of the Hub, including unreleased material from 2004 and 2006.

Iconicity (New World, 2011) contains three pieces for percussion and live Electronics: Iceberg, an 18-minute piece composed in 1985, that was already on Snakecharmer (1989), here performed by William Winant on crotales, glockenspiel, and hi-hat, while Chris Brown is on computer-controlled analog electronics and digital delay; the 15-minute Stupa (2007), featuring the composer on piano and live computer processing, accompanied by William Winant on vibraphone ("piano and vibraphone are treated like the sound of a single gong, and a series of four octatonic chords whose notes are shared between the instruments gradually expand into upward sweeping melodies, and the chords are sampled during the first half of the piece to provide material for electronic halos, and a drone gradually emerges beneath"); and Gangsa (2010), a 20-minute track on which the composer, on live computer processing, plays with the William Winant Percussion Group: Jordan Glenn, Krystof Golinski, Shayna Dunkelman, and David Douglas, all on flat-gongs conducted by Winant.

Iconicity contains three pieces for percussion and live electronics: Iceberg (1985), that was already on Snakecharmer, Stupa (2007), and Gangsa (2010).

The piano solo Six Primes (New World, 2016) was composed in 2014 for "retuned piano in 13-limit just intonation, performed using the first six prime numbers to govern tuning, harmony, rhythmic subdivisions and form".

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(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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