So Percussion, Amid the Noise

John Schaefer

By John Schaefer

on 01.18.11 in Reviews
Unexpectedly serene sonic landscapes from New York’s finest avant-garde percussion troupe.

So Percussion has quickly built a reputation as the percussion group of choice for many of New York's finest new music composers, David Lang and Steve Reich among them. As their self-titled first album showed, So Percussion is not afraid to go the extra mile, or whatever the distance to the local Home Depot is, to get just the right sounds. (For example, Lang's "So-Called Laws of Nature," from the debut, featured wooden planks, tea cups and similar oddities.) But Amid the Noise is different — it's a suite of twelve sonic landscapes created by founding So percussionist Jason Treuting. There's terrific interplay here, but despite the title, it's not a slugfest. Instead, Noise is a series of moody, almost ambient works with a lineup that features tuned percussion, electric guitar, programming and — since this is So Percussion — duct tape, "fuzz" and an Ethernet port. “June” sets the tone with eerie bowed marimba and glitch electronics; “Work Slow Life” and “September” are full of fake bells — actually a cunning mix of crotales, glockenspiel and metal pipes. "What the Hell" adds drums and programming to produce the most conventionally pretty track on an album that's chilly, glitchy and unexpectedly serene.