Mike Einziger's Vacuum Chamber Music
When the experimental metal band Incubus exploded on the scene in the early ’90s, who’da thunk disheveled, gangly lead guitarist Mike Einziger would someday write a convention-bending orchestral work that would debut at Royce Hall, complete with an introduction by a famous physicist? Yeah, that’s what Dynamike has been up to in his old age. Now 32, and looking somewhat more staid with trimmed mustache, beard and long, frizzy hair neatly drawn back behind his ears, Einziger is premiering his first original orchestral composition, provocatively titled End.>vacuum., which, he says, refers to his perception of the outer edge of human understanding, “the finite place where rational scientific knowledge stops and pure speculation ensues.”
Einziger was sort of in that place when, in 2007, he was temporarily put out of commission following carpal tunnel surgery. “It sucked horribly,” he recalls. “I couldn’t play the guitar, and I only had one good hand.” Which was where the known bowed to the unknown, and a new world opened up. Inspired by a wide range of musical influences that runs the gamut from Stravinsky and Barber to Zappa and — uh-huh — Björk, Einziger embarked upon composing: End.>vacuum was the end result. Einziger sees it as the intersection of science and music, two disciplines that evolve precisely because “You have to dive into things without knowing. The great thing about science is when you’re wrong about things, it’s almost better than being right because it forces you to keep looking. It’s the same with music.” As involved in science as he is in music, Einziger has participated in articles with Brown University evolutionary biologist Kenneth Miller, British physicist Brian Cox and Pulitzer Prize-winning science historian Ed Larson. But it doesn’t end there — to continue turning a new leaf, the bad boy of Incubus was recently accepted at Harvard, where he plans to study music composition, physics, cosmology and evolutionary biology — “You know. The easy stuff.”
The nine movements of End.>vacuum will be performed this Friday by a chamber orchestra led by Los Angeles conductor and longtime Einziger collaborator Suzie Katayama. Cox will introduce the evening with a short lecture about particle physics. Expect the unexpected: End.>vacuum is “the event horizon between what we know and what we don’t know,” reflects Einziger, “which is what keeps me awake at night but also gets me out of bed every day.” Royce Hall, UCLA campus, Wstwd.; Fri., Aug. 23, 8 p.m.; call for ticket prices. (213) 480-3232 or www.ticketmaster.com.
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