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Dither releases new album of Electric Guitar Quartets - Potential Differences - on New Focus Recordings

September 19, 2019 | By Maggie Stapleton
Jensen Artists

Dither Releases New Album Potential Differences

Electric Guitar Quartets by Eve Beglarian, Jascha Narveson, James Tenney, Ted Hearne, Paula Matthusen,

and each member of the quartet – Gyan Riley, James Moore, Taylor Levine, and Joshua Lopes

Release Date: November 1, 2019 on New Focus Recordings

Preview and Pre-Order:

?Downloads and CDs available to press on request 

“Sophisticated, hard-driving and stylistically omnivorous music making.” – The New York Times

New York, NY – The New York-based electric guitar quartet Dither announces the November 1, 2019 release of its third studio album, Potential Differenceson New Focus Recordings. Dither has established itself as one of the premiere ensembles of its kind, cementing its reputation as keen champions of inventive composers and deft sound sculptors in the rich sonic world of the electric guitar.

Potential Differences represents Dither's signature repertoire – including works by Eve Beglarian, Jascha Narveson, Ted Hearne, Paula Matthusen – which the group has performed extensively over the last ten years. The album also includes Dither's version of James Tenney's Swell Piece and a work by each member of the quartet – Gyan Riley, James Moore, Taylor Levine, and Joshua Lopes – who bring idiosyncratic approaches to the electric guitar's sound and playing techniques.

Dither has worked closely with many of the featured composers, who are also friends and colleagues, to develop each piece slowly over time. “Even with pieces written from within the group, we are constantly making individual creative choices and crafting our parts with our instincts and personalities at play,” says James Moore.

Measured in volts, Potential Difference is a term for the difference of electric potential between two points. Moore explains, “Though it is a technical term that might more directly refer to the electricity going through our guitar pedals and amps, we also like to think of it poetically as a reference to the wide range of voices on this record and the energy that has been produced between them. 

Potential Differences | Dither | New Focus Recordings | Release Date: November 1, 2019

1. Eve Beglarian: The Garden of Cyrus

“This score is the last movement of the electronic version of The Garden of Cyrus. It's a four-part canon in twelve sections, where each player does faster and faster repeated notes in each section until finally s/he falls into sustained notes. The original version was electronic, but the excellent guitar quartet Dither asked me to make a four-guitar version, so here it is.” – Eve Beglarian

2. Gyan Riley: The Tar of Gyu

“When I was 16 I went to hear the Gyuto Monks perform in my hometown. I was so captivated by the sheer power of the sweeping guttural sounds that emanated from the stage that I bought their album and listened to it repeatedly. The opening of the Tar of Gyu features two guitars imitating these undulating guttural gestures in alternation, while the other two echo dissonant harmonics.” – Gyan Riley

3. Paula Matthusen: but because without this

but because without this (2009/06) for electric guitar quartet is a timbral exploration of the idea of how discrepancies in repetition emerge and, even when unanticipated, seem somehow necessary in retrospect. The fully scored piece gradually transforms melodic fragments, creating hockets as the ensemble merges in and out of distinct timbral areas. The piece was originally scored for bluegrass quartet in 2006 and was later adapted for Dither in 2009.” – Paula Matthusen 

[4-7] Jascha Narveson: Ones 

4. The Wah One

5. The Driving One

6. The Warped One

7. The Floaty One

“My first piece for Dither was called Vectors, and it focused on string-bending because I wanted to write music that could only be played by an electric guitar quartet.  For Ones I wanted to keep playing with idiomatic electric guitar textures.  Since this was my guiding concept, my working titles gradually became the real ones, with ‘The Wah One,’ ‘The Driving One,’ ‘The Warped One,’ and ‘The Floaty One’ pretty much stating what they're about in their titles: clouds of wah-pedal, propulsive palm-muting, radical de-tuning, and clouds of harmonics. (Bonus points if you hear the canon in ‘The Warped One.’)” – Jascha Narveson

8. Joshua Lopes: Mi-Go

Mi-Go is based loosely on Lovecraft's sonnet collection Fungi from Yuggoth, aiming to convey a certain type of loneliness and existential dread commonly portrayed in Lovecraft's antagonists. Musically, it’s crafted from the scraps of a discarded Pierrot Lunaire-esque song cycle and uses horror movie soundtrack tropes as well as nods to Alban Berg and King Crimson.

9. James Moore: Mannequin

“Originally written as a sketch for my acoustic group The Hands Free, this piece was inspired by an entry from Les Mains Libres, a 1943 collection of poetry and art in which surrealist writer Paul Éluard poetically illustrated line drawings by the artist Man Ray. Mannequin utilizes the E-Bow, a commercial electromagnetic device used to sustain tones on a guitar string (with which I have a love/hate relationship).” – James Moore

10. Ted Hearne: Candy

Candy passes a simple melody around the quartet, bouncing from one player to another with seeming ease. When individuals start throwing wrenches in expected patterns, a taut and placid texture becomes more explosive.” – Ted Hearne

11. Taylor Levine: Renegade

Renegade was inspired by free improvisations Levine was doing with various musicians and captures some of the qualities and methods of particularly interesting moments in a notated piece.

12. James Tenney: Swell Piece

Swell Piece is from James Tenney's collection of “postal pieces.” The performers are given simple instructions for sustaining and swelling of pitches. “The postal pieces, written between 1965 and 1971, but actually produced in 1971 (with the help of Alison Knowles and Marie McRoy at Cal. Arts), are a series of ten short works printed on post cards. Several of the pieces written in and around 1971 for a few of Tenney's friends at Cal. Arts. His explanation of the set is that he hated to write letters, and since he had a number of very short compositions, what could be easier than to make postcards of them.” – Larry Polansky 

Album Credits

Produced by Dither, Inc. | Artwork & design by Emily Weidenhof

Recorded by Patrick Higgins at Future-Past Studios, Hudson, NY

Mixed by Andrew McKenna Lee at Still Sound Music, Albany, NY

Mastered by Philip White, Brooklyn, NY

Funded in part through grants from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc. and the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University.

About Dither

Dither, a New York based electric guitar quartet, is dedicated to an eclectic mix of experimental repertoire which spans composed, improvised and electronic music. Formed in 2007, the quartet has performed across the United States and abroad, presenting new commissions, original compositions, multimedia works, and large guitar ensemble pieces. Dither’s members are Taylor Levine, Joshua Lopes, James Moore and Gyan Riley. 

Dither has performed and collaborated with a wide range of artists including Eve Beglarian, Nels Cline, Fred Frith, Mary Halvorson, David Lang, Ikue Mori, Phill Niblock, Lee Ranaldo, Lois V. Vierk, Yo La Tengo, and John Zorn. They have brought their live 13-guitar rendition of Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint to The Barbican Center, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, The Ellnora Guitar Festival and WNYC's New Sounds Live. The quartet has also performed at the Guggenheim Museum, the Bang on a Can Marathon, The Performa Biennial, The Amsterdam Electric Guitar Heaven Festival, Hong Kong's Fringe Theater, The Winter Jazz Festival and the Borealis Festival.

Dither will perform works from the album on Sunday, October 27, 2019 at the Frost Theater of the Arts in Brooklyn, NY at The Dither Extravaganza! 2019, a raucous festival of creative music and art. Regularly produced by Dither, this event has been called an "official concert on the edge" by The New Yorker and "the here and now of New York's postclassical music scene" by Time Out New York. More information: 

The quartet’s self-titled debut album was released on Henceforth Records in 2010 to critical acclaim. Their sophomore release Dither plays Zorn on Tzadik, featuring the premiere recordings of several of John Zorn's improvisational game pieces, was named one of Rolling Stone’s “top avant albums of 2015.”




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