It's like that party you've been hoping to get invited to for months now and you finally did, only it's a Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Oh, well… Those of us not cool enough to arrive fashionably late mingled around amid the wafting perfume of tequila.
The expansive white cube that is Human Resources in Chinatown was sparsely occupied with posters. The center of the room housed an installation — an upright piano, flanked by new-agey Himalayan salt crystal lamps, a Macbook, a couple of mic stands and a few other tchotchkes resting on top of a rug — that would be the main feature of the evening. Projected on the rear wall, a video of gorillas grocery shopping and knockin' da boots.
The video and various posters, each carried out by different artists associated with the man behind the project, Gregory Rogove, are variations, “remixes” as he calls them, of the score he's written for Piana, his upcoming album. Piana's website describes it as “an album of instrumental, solo piano pieces written by Gregory Rogove and performed by John Medeski.” The album, to be released Jan. 31, will also include a DVD of the visual reinterpretations — video, photographs, various 2D media and a sculpture — of the piano pieces composed by Rogove.
Last night's event was a preview party for the release of the album. And an art show. And a concert. Recital? MTV-unplugged-like session. Art-music. Music-art. Performance art? Who knows — I got several answers.
When those fashionably late party people finally began to fill the room, Rogove approached the piano, asked us to gather and sit on the floor for the performance. It felt like I was at a school assembly, only cooler. I wish my school assemblies had been that cool. I definitely wish we could have showed up fashionably late.
Rogove played three weighty, strongly-chorded songs solo on the piano. Next up, L.A. avant-indietronica Lucky Dragons. One ethereal song later, I found myself in a highly pleasant stupor. We clapped. Rogove invited old pal Devendra Banhart up to play his remix, a strong-on-feedback electric guitar and percussion device monument that snapped me out of my ethereal stupor. We clapped some more. Finally, Carly Margolis with Mark Noseworthy and Nicole Simone. The performance permeated through the room with electric guitar, synthesizer, spectral vocals and piano from Rogove, back on set. More clapping, and then it was over. So much polite clapping.
What's most interesting about the project is the fact that many of the collaborators are participating through media they're not known for. Rogove himself is known not for ticklin' ivory, but as Devendra Banhart's drummer. Fabrizio Moretti of the Strokes contributed a sculpture (as yet to be seen). Interesting concept.
Okay, so my interest is piqued. What will the final album sound like? Look like? Will it be a score-and-effect Cagean masterpiece? Stay tuned for when Piana drops (and can someone please tell me why we say that an album “drops”) on January 31 to find out and weigh in.
Piana will be released on Jan. 31 through Knitting Factory Records. For more info visit gregoryrogove.com/yobananaboy/piana.html.
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