Balter / Saunier Deerhoof & Dal Niente



release date: April 29, 2016

release date: April 29, 2016

Balter / Saunier is the collaborative album from Deerhoof ("the best band in the world” - Pitchfork) and Chicago-based 22-piece contemporary music group Dal Niente (“a model of what contemporary music needs" - The Chicago Tribune). The album features works by Brazilian-born composer Marcos Balter and arrangements by Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier of his band’s songs. Described as “riveting and endearing” (I Care If You Listen), the collaborations are not just independently unique but collectively indescribable, bringing “distinct musical voices…to make a perfect hybrid.”

Deerhoof and Dal Niente first crossed paths in 2012 when they shared a bill at Chicago’s Millennium Park. The two groups bonded instantly over their shared sensibilities and began a long-term collaboration, performing together when possible and inspiring each other along the way. Balter / Saunier is a culmination of these explorations, an intricate intermingling of styles that captures each group at its most adventurous and encapsulates what it means to create, perform and listen to music in 2016. As Ear Influxion writes, “the whole thing is immensely satisfying, though Balter’s compositions shine brightest by virtue of the chemistry shared with his collaborators.

Despite the scope and scale of the collaboration (with more than 30 people involved), the recording process was a remarkably DIY effort. Balter / Saunier is self-produced, mixed and edited; composers session-produced their pieces; and engineer Dan Nichols cleverly turned a busy downtown ballroom into a treated recording environment. Everyone spent a lot of time listening – to the music and each other – and it shows: the final product is the very definition of a meeting of the minds, a perfect distillation of several (highly developed) artistic voices.

Balter / Saunier consists of two longer works, one each by Balter and Saunier, with one shorter piece by Balter between the two. The album opens with Balter’s seven-part piece “meltDown Upshot,” a magnetic mix of heady beats, catchy pop, absorbing post-minimalism, angular melodies and fireworks of free jazz written specifically for the two groups’ collaboration. Next is “Pois que nada que dure, ou que durando,” a poem by Fernando Pessoa that translates to "For that nothing lasts, or that lasting” in English, a dissonance-tinged work that plays like a sonic realization of Dalí’s “Persistence of Memory.” The album closes with Saunier's “Deerhoof Chamber Variations,” a work for Dal Niente that uses Deerhoof's catalogue as source material. Rather than simply re-arranging Deerhoof songs by rote, Saunier flexes his compositional background to create a meditation on the group’s discography. Familiar melodies – set amongst grand, expansive arrangements – drift in and out of view as if from a refracted memory. But wholly, “not one forgettable moment surfaces; not one skippable track presents itself in this era of impatient listeners waiting for the memorable or gut-punching banger” (PopMatters)– an experience that’s equal parts lucid as it is deeply meditative.


  1. meltDown Upshot: 1. Credo (Marcos Balter)

  2. meltDown Upshot: 2. Parallel Spaces (Marcos Balter)

  3. meltDown Upshot: 3. Ready (Marcos Balter)

  4. meltDown Upshot: 4. True/False (Marcos Balter)

  5. meltDown Upshot: 5. Home (Marcos Balter)

  6. meltDown Upshot: 6. Cherubim (Marcos Balter)

  7. meltDown Upshot: 7. Rapture (Marcos Balter)

  8. Pois que nada que dure, ou que durando (Marcos Balter)

  9. Deerhoof Chamber Variations (Greg Saunier)