Some composers retain classical forms like the symphony and the concerto when they borrow from popular culture. Others, like Michael Gordon, a co-founder of the new music collective Bang on a Can, prefer flexible ensembles that incorporate electronic and computer technology. Gordon’s music is gritty, hard-edged and aggressive, steeped in the same downtown New York scene as rockers like Lou Reed and Patti Smith. But he’s also taken a keen interest in Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. “I Buried Paul” pays homage to the infamous ending of the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever,” where John Lennon’s voice intones what many heard as "I buried Paul," although he later said the lyric was actually “cranberry sauce.” Gordon builds that snippet into a surreal 10-minute electronic pastiche in which the military drums, flute and backwards tape effects are all reshuffled with a playful sense of postmodern irony.
By Justin Davidson on 05.20.14 in Features
The Bang On A Can co-founder talks about his new album, the challenges of his students' generation, and finding new ways of listening.
By John Schaefer on 04.29.14 in Reviews
Julia Wolfe's masterful meditation on the legend of John Henry was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2010, and it's not hard to see why. Written for the Bang On A Can All-Stars (Wolfe is a co-founder of Bang On A Can)...
By Jayson Greene on 03.30.14 in Features
The Wilco drummer talks about making the leap to composition.
By Jayson Greene on 04.26.12 in Collections
The inimitable art-music collective Bang On A Can turns 25 this year. The trio of composers — David Lang, Michael Gordon, and Julia Wolfe — have been racking up anniversaries lately: their in-house label, Can...