Category: Here There Be Dragons (2)
With a new season of artistic offerings, it’s fitting that Peak Performances would team up with nonprofit label New Amsterdam Records to open the season with Here There Be Dragons. Both exist on the fringes of their mediums, while granting audiences exceedingly bold and essential visions. Peak Performances is an hour outside what many consider to be the theater capital of the world. The musicians of Here There Be Dragons combine multiple genres in a way that makes their work some of the most interesting and least commercial music being made.
Victoire, NOW Ensemble, and William Brittelle’s Television Landscape intermingled their performances, with one group finishing a song while another group silently entered the stage, ensuring no interruption in the music or dreamy mood. The well-chosen songs complimented each other nicely. Which is not to say that the groups are interchangeable. On the contrary, they’ve each established their own specific identity. Read more »
We fear the unknown, and crave it. Ancient cartographers marked the yet-unexplored parts of their maps with florid drawings of real or mythical beasts, all imbued with danger. When words replaced images, they would read, often, “here there are lions” or, later and less commonly, “here there be dragons.” The places where danger was suggested—through lions on land, dragons at sea—were precisely the places that future explorers would seek out, erasing the mystery and dispelling the fear. But there were always new margins, new beasts of uncertainty, arising as the previous boundary was explored.
In an age of unprecedented collective knowledge, nearly all immediately available, where are the dragons? The kinds of knowing that our systems suggest—our systems of education, of technology, of government—all demand complete maps devoid of mystery and danger. A dragon, in our age of seeming omniscience, represents nothing more than failure, a glitch in the system, a bug to be addressed.
New Amsterdam Records supports artists who veer, naturally, toward the beasts of the map. Or, to go further, artists who create the beasts themselves, insisting on the presence of the new and the unknown in the face of a stagnant societal complacency. There can always be dragons, if we choose to see them there, or choose to not see what we’re told lies beneath.
Walk into a record store or go online to buy music, and behold the county lines, the borders of islands and inlets, that neatly tell you where you are. You are in Jazz. You are in Alternative and Punk. Why, then, do so many of the most interesting artists from these genres seem to speak across those lines, at and to one another? There are things that the map does not know, but the artists do. They are the explorers, after all, and if we still crave the unknown, it behooves us to follow them, blind though we may be.
Composer Judd Greenstein is a member of NOW Ensemble and co-founder of New Amsterdam Records.