The Guggenheim has a unique history of pairing independent-minded musicians with touring exhibitions. From 2009’s ‘It Came from Brooklyn,’ to Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle freakout, the results have been mixed, but the institution has always embraced visual/aural experimentation as few museums have. But with John Chamberlain’s work taking over the rotunda for the next couple months, the museum is practically begging for musical accompaniment. In his first show since his death late last year, Manhattan artist John Chamberlain will have his colossal structures dominate the museum until May 13 in the expansive collection, John Chamberlain: Choices.
His brand of three-dimensional abstraction re-assembled the detritus of American consumerism into a Frankenstein of metal and chrome. No matter the scale of these pieces, Chamberlain always worked in enormous proportions. And the same can be said of the four musicians chosen to perform among the artist’s assemblage over the next two months.
Beginning with Portland's Grouper and NYC's Julianna Barwick (pictured) playing together on Fri, April 13, the museum is matching soundtrack to exhibition with Divine Ricochet. The vastness of Liz Harris’s soundscapes, coupled with Barwick’s orchestrally looped vocal arrangements, could very well cause these sculptures to float into space if things get too otherworldly. But assuming gravity has it’s way, make sure to also check out Cold Cave’s lush synth pop later next month on April 27, followed by the hypnotic Zola Jesus, when she collaborates with composer JG Thirlwell on May 10.
John Chamberlain’s maxim was always: “It’s all in the fit.” So I’ll be looking forward to seeing (and hearing) what you get when you take a loop machine and wrap its sound around auto parts. - Mike Levine (@Goldnuggets)
Ambient and slightly androgynous, the duo Belle Mare released their dreamy debut EP “The Boat of the Fragile Mind” earlier this spring. The EP resonates with somber tones and almost whale-like howls, unraveling soft acoustic guitar, simple piano melodies, and occasional subtle drones. The title track features the quivering vocals of Amelia Bushell, one half of the Belle Mare duo with guitarist Thomas Servidone, painting a dreamscape portrait of longing. Charade (streaming below) gently develops an unexpected blue melody that can lull you into the deepest of sleeps - I've heard of people dreaming of sleeping, in NYC. The duo met at an open mic night in Brooklyn and recorded the album in Servidone’s apartment, but notwithstanding the DIY approach, the record is full of character and the sound mature. With their mix of rich surrealism and an almost gothic aura, these song sounds as if played through an antique phonograph inside a parlor room... located in the deepest of our subconscious. While “The Boat” could easily draw comparisons to other dream-poppers Beach House, Belle Mare’s subtleties and extreme sparsness create a stronger emotional drive and more nostalgic appeal. - Devon Antonetti