Holographic is the latest album and series of performances from Paris-born composer Daniel Wohl. The album was co-produced with Paul Corley (Oneohtrix Point Never, Tim Hecker, Ben Frost) and features contributions from Lucky Dragons, Olga Bell, Caroline Shaw (Roomful of Teeth), Bang on Can All-Stars, Mantra Percussion, Mivos Quartet and Iktus Percussion. In a groundbreaking new model, Holographic was commissioned by pioneering organizations Liquid Music (of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra), MASS MoCA, Baryshnikov Arts Center and Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Acclaimed as one of the young artists “shaping our contemporary music scene and defining what it means to be a composer in the 21st century," (NPR) Wohl creates a remarkable hybrid of music that is part mechanical and part organic. Instead of exploring the gap between his classical composition background and his collaborations within the ever-evolving electronic music scene, Wohl strives to close it.
"Holographic is about exploring different worlds–improbable combinations of sounds–hidden and imaginary sonic landscapes both acoustic and electronic," explained Wohl, "By processing or re-sampling more traditional instruments like strings, percussion, or the human voice, I wanted to create music that has a strong link to the past while at the same time being rooted in what I listen to on a daily basis. I was hoping to retain the warmth and inconsistencies of human playing while interfacing with the technologies that are available to all of us."
On Holographic, Wohl pushes his varied sound sources to their limits, and it can be difficult to distinguish between the electronic and the acoustic. Indeed, the first sound heard on Holographic is a deep static drone, which sounds as if it might have been created by a modular synth, but in fact, was captured by placing a microphone on a resonating snare drum. From this murky, warm texture, Wohl creates a percussive exploration that ends with bursts of arpeggios in the vibraphones (tracks 1 and 2: "Replicate, Part 1" and "Replicate, Part 2").
Similarly, "Pixel" (track 6) investigates the sound that results from the unconventional playing of an instrument: this time a glockenspiel (as heard in the opening). Toy pianos, piano, and percussion collide with Wohl's noisy electronics to create a joyful clatter. On "Formless" (track 3), Wohl uses the strings of the Mivos Quartet to create a weightless texture that is perfectly complemented by dark, pulsating electronics.
The title composition on the album (track 5, "Holographic") stuns with its combination of propulsive rhythms and densely layered melodies. The instrumentalists of the Bang on a Can All-Stars are merged completely with Wohl's interleaving samples of vocals, bubbling water, and decaying electronics.
Track 7 ("Source") is a gorgeous piece (featuring vocal contributions from composers Olga Bell and Caroline Shaw) that sets a new standard for how vocals and electronics can work together in music. In Progression (track 8) Mivos Quartet and Mantra Percussion are locked into intricate polyrhythmic interplay with a prepared piano - harmonies get progressively darker over the course of the 7 minute piece. Meanwhile, album closer "Shapes" (track 9) – a collaboration with L.A.-based experimentalists Lucky Dragons – is a shimmering and mournful piece that concludes the album with a somber, elegiac tone.
The live premieres of Holographic will take place in New York City (Baryshnikov Arts Center) January 21 & 22, Philadelphia (FringeArts) February 5, Indianapolis (Indianapolis Museum of Art) February 6, and Saint Paul (Liquid Music) February 11, 2016. Wohl will call on the talents of Mantra Percussion and the Holographic String Quartet (featuring members of Flux Quartet and String Noise), blending the virtuosic talents of his performers with a newly commissioned visual component and rich electronic creations to bring his spellbinding multimedia work to life. All live performances of Holographic will also feature projections from Los Angeles-based visual artist Daniel Schwarz, engaged and commissioned by The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul.