: Stream JD Samson & MEN, 'Making Art (Lorna Dune Remix).
Tomorrow, Lorna Dune—the Brooklyn keyboardist maybe best known for the classical quintet Victoire, and with ties to Steve Reich and Philip Glass—releases her gorgeous instrumental synth pop EP Miamisphere. First, though, is this stomping, The Knife-y remix of JD Samson & MEN’s “Making Art,” sounding nothing like the actual single from the band’s sophomore album, LABOR, itself out October 22nd. Pretty amazing on all fronts.
: Dance music's growing interest in new-agey sounds has had some pretty fascinating results—think of Steve Moore or Xander Harris for examples of this kind of trance-not-trance.
Lorna Dune is a Brooklyn producer who operates along these lines, and her debut for lo bit landscapes sees her trawling Petar Dundov's Adriatic waters. More beat-oriented than last year's Sidereal EP, Miamisphere is arresting for its sheer Balearic decadence.
"Plasmodium" kicks the EP off in flashy fashion, all watery sound effects, silly-putty basslines and an overdriven arpeggio that sounds like it was lifted out of "Silent Shout" and given some happy pills. "Agnus Day" puts a more anxious spin on things with its floating-in-space woodblocks and grinding chords, but it's still lit up like a Christmas tree.
Most interesting of all is "Miamisphere," despite the fact that it's a year-old. Its steadily swirling slo-mo beat feels at odds with the rippling waves and fake brass that float above it, as if Dune were trying to recreate the classic dance music of Ibiza's golden era from only the faintest of memories. L. I. E. S. associate Terekke, whose own tracks have a matte coat compared to Dune's holographic gleam, seems like an odd choice for a remix, but his chunky house re-rub makes for an excellent counterpoint and brings her space cadet meanderings back down to earth, rounding off the New York label's best release yet.
: Lorna Dune remixes Pulitzer Prize winning 'Partita' by Caroline Shaw.
: Let's talk about the Knife—or, rather, the dark-hued atmospheric swirls, terrible density, and unsettling uplift housed within the vicious throb that underscored Silent Shout.
Shorn of the Dreijer siblings' curdled wails up front, Brooklyn synth enthusiast Lorna Dune does a more-than-capable job of retaining the emotional tremor on “Agnes Day”, a cut from her debut EP Miamisphere.
The widescreen half-minute introduction hints at an entire track's worth of beatless suspension, evoking any number of opening movie scenes spent gliding at speed above vast expanses of water (a theme very much present in the aquatic video). Once pulled under into the vortex, escape becomes futile: the plasticky progressive chords and ponderous, massive bassline continue their relentless push'n'pull, false-flagging any end in sight by allowing meagre gasps for air before bringing crest after crest of increasing volatility crashing down.
Red Bull Music Academy
: 'Train Wreck' mix by Lorna Dune
Liable to surprise you at any turn, Lorna Dune is a rather uncategorisable creature.
As a virtuoso pianist, she’s the founder of several chamber and new music ensembles in New York, and contributes to the wider and weirder community of electronic artists making sound together with her synthesist sensiblities. On one hand you might find Lorna Dune playing with the Philip Glass Ensemble, or performing with Steve Reich, or even composing new music with Missy Mazzoli in the ensemble Victoire, and her minimal aesthetic has been informed by the best in the world.
On the flipside, her take on weighty techno and dreamy synthscapes, both solo and in the trio Love Like Deloreans, displays an intuitive grasp of the kind of structure and arrangements that can send a dance floor into fits of ecstasy. An experimental keyboardist who is happy to go wherever her heart and ears tell her, redefining genres along the way, Lorna Dune inhabits a world of her own, and it’s a glorious thing to behold.
: According to Lorna Dune the term “new music” is often misunderstood—it has classical roots but is tied to the minimalist, modern tradition of the 1970s.
Is it pretentious silence in an art gallery, or the stuff that only academics name drop? While sometimes seen as the high road to pop, the classically trained pianist goes from her new music roots and makes a foray into electronic with her debut EP, Miamisphere, (out now) which sounds exactly how cosmic Florida would sound: plastic at some points, balmy at others. Sunny, smiley, and even scorched.
The Brooklyn-based musician, who has played with the Philip Glass Ensemble and Steve Reich, makes music which is deep, atmospheric, and danceable. She is also totally brilliant, having kept a sense of humor about coming to the definition of what “new music” is exactly. She notes that a classical musician is someone stuck in a practice room, while an electronic musician improvises on the dancefloor. Few people are as unique as Dune in her influences and output. We talked to her Dune—A. K. A Lorna Krier—about tripping out in the Dreamhouse and getting stuck with star composers in elevators.
Noisey: You have classical roots. How did you end up in electronic music?
Lorna Dune: Alongside classical music and playing piano, I grew up listening to a techno, grunge, punk and combinations therein. My first boyfriend was a raver and we’d get together and talk about Schenkerian music theory, I’d work on Bach fugues, and then we would play on his MC505. I didn’t have MTV, but I was always really stoked on Amp whenever I could get my friends to tape it for me. In college, I got into a different kind of electronic music. I remember performing Steve Reich’s “Pendulum Swings” and seeing Alvin Lucier’s “Music on a Long Thin Wire” at the Milwaukee Art Museum (where I’m from) as being very formative experiences. When I first visited NYC, I visited Phil Niblock’s loft and also had the trippiest experience of my life at the La Monte Young Dreamhouse. I then started performing more experimental music for piano and electronics and buying whatever organs I could find at yard sales and thrift stores to capture that “Glass sound. ” I started circuit bending as a short-lived hobby, and yeah, it all kind of melds together from there.
What is the Miamisphere EP all about?
The last EP “Sidereal” meaning “of the stars” had more of a psychedelic or cosmic vibe, which I love, but I wanted to move some of those qualities to a higher BPM driven, darker, emotive environment. Sidereal was out there in space and Miamisphere is somewhere between. Maybe a parallel imaginary universe of some kind… in Florida. Miamisphere’s imagery focuses on the binary of darkness, sickness, internal torture, elation and bliss. Plasmodium is a parasitic protozoa responsible for Malaria. Agnes Day (Latin spelling: Agnes Dei “lamb of god”) is personified in a woman who is plagued with anxiety and an obsession with perfection and self-mutilates to escape herself. The moments that break away from this darkness and catapult into exhilarating frenzy are the ones I live for. Production-wise this EP is more of a departure for me. I am relying less on live performance with analog synths and have moved to a production-based, clean, imaginative sound inspired by some of the aural spaces of producers like Stephan Bodzin. I was so happy to get my friend Terekke (L. I. E. S. ) involved to put his signature stamp on the Miamisphere remix.
What do you think about contemporary or “new music”? Is it relevant? Misunderstood?
To be honest, I don’t really fully understand what “new music” is myself. A lot of people have a clear distinction between pop art and high art in their minds and this term might be an antiquated way of sticking to the “high road. ” I feel like these terms are no longer relevant as we have moved away from this sort of thinking. But then again, it is very hard to have perspective on larger cultural shifts.
What I can tell you that whatever it is, yes, contemporary, experimental or new music is extremely relevant and important to our society and we would not nearly have as interesting of a culture without it. For me personally, “new music” means using innovations to create a point of departure for an experience of some design. The experience is the end goal.
Is it difficult to get some people interested in new music?
No. All they really need to do is get high and watch Philip Glass’s “Koyaanisqatsi” and then listen to Reich’s “Music for Eighteen Musicians” while falling asleep with a loved one. People go to galleries all the time with the intention of appreciating and finding meaning in contemporary work. Music is the same. You need to find what speaks to you. You won’t like everything, but I can guarantee you that you will find a piece that inspires you.
How different, in your lazer eyes, is the style of a classical and an electronic musician?
A classical musician is stuck in a practice room. An electronic musician splits time between their bedroom studio and working things out on the dance floor.
When have you brought toy pianos and analog synths onstage?
When I am not playing as Lorna Dune, I perform on anything and everything that has black and white keys… except accordion, but I really want to learn! I’ve played composer and visual artist Tristan Perich’s piece for three toy pianos and 1-bit electronics, as well as playing harmonium, melodica, and the slew of analog synths that rotate in cast depending on the project.
What was it like working with Steve Reich? That is big time.
The first time I worked with Steve Reich was at the Bang on a Can Summer Institute residency at MASS MoCA in 2008, which was the most important experience of my young musical life. I was absolutely terrified to meet Reich as I heard he had a bit of a temper. The piece I was performing was extremely physically challenging. When I introduced Reich to my mom he blurted, “Please, please don’t send me the hospital bills. ” We all laughed. I guess I wasn’t the first pianist to have issues.
How did you meet Philip Glass?
I got stuck in an elevator with Philip Glass the first time I met him. We were both leaving a rehearsal for a Shakespeare in the Park production, which he was composing music for. It was just the two of us in the elevator when it suddenly jolted to halt between the second and third floor for about five minutes. I tried desperately not to get gooey and blabber about how “Einstein on the Beach” changed my life. He was super chill as is everyone in PGE. Real role models.
What is the difference between Lorna Dune (your stage name) and Lorna Krier (your real name) in terms of persona?
Lorna Dune is slowly taking over my artistic life. She started with defining herself as the creator while Lorna Krier was the performer. But now Lorna Dune is challenging the way I think about what it means to be a creator/performer. The lines are blurred and there might not be a need for separation anymore.
Dying to know: Where did the lazer eyes come from?
The blue-within-blue eyes is an aftereffect of the Spice, melange, which causes a state of heightened consciousness, extends life, and can unlock prescience—key to interstellar travel.
“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic. ” – Frank Herbert.
: Lorna Dune: Miamisphere (Terekke Remix)
Emerging from a background in “New Music” (a brand of classical music that has been expanded and informed by the minimalist tradition), Lorna Dune (born Lorna Krier, pictured above) has made a determined shift to techno without letting go of her prior interests in “high art.
” The recently released Miamisphere EP is Lorna's first foray into that realm, but her synthesist and minimalist leanings allow for an transition to the structures of the genre, exploring more romantic and sublime zones. L. I. E. S. affiliate Terekke's dusty and expansive remix of the title track turns the drifting synth odyssey into a bubbling, circuitous production. “Miamisphere (Terekke Remix)” submerges the original tune's soaring harmonic progressions into its foundation, and propels itself with a solitary kick that seems to endlessly unwind with each revelatory development.
: Having never come across Lorna Dune before, but knowing that she must have pinched her name from the titular character of a nineteenth century British romantic novel, I was pleasantry surprised to discover that her music, although also having a connection to the past, sounds fresh and vital.
Lorna Krier is the real name of the lady at work here and she has an illustrious background in “New Music”, aka “classical music that is still being written”. There's often a scepticism aimed at cross-genre performance of this nature; one that views such ideas as transitory dalliances amongst the proletariat. Whatever objectives were in mind, however, this is a venture which works extremely well.
Naming one of your tracks after the protozoa which causes malaria is always a sure fire way to elicit my interest, and 'Plasmodium' is certainly a very well-weighted piece of music. light and airy but with an elastic bass line and a dark undercurrent, it's a very appealing piece of machine hypnotics, the dynamics of which never allow it to get bogged down in cliche.
'Agnes Day' uses similar elements, its synthetic chords building on 'Plasmodium's' arpeggiations and, like the former, reminding me of Goa trance, but in a good way.
'Miamisphere' has by far the slowest tempo here, it's a dreamier piece and a narcoleptic interlude, but just as kaleidoscopic as the other two compositions. It's tempo makes it an ideal candidate to be remixed though, and Terekke, recently garnering praise for releases on L. I. E. S, does an excellent job. Retaining the mystic ambience that envelopes the original, he adds a dampened drum which courses its way through to result in a piece that effectively nods to much of the good stuff which is currently emerging from New York, while hovering in a celestial hinterland.
The influence of Goa trance is alive and well in this release, specifically the more commercial side. I remember Paul Oakenfold in his Goa phase playing very similar stuff in the mid-nineties and, although it was only tolerable in small doses, there were some great riffs. This release ably updates said sound almost twenty years later, and throws in Terekke's great remix, which moves in a different sonic sphere altogether, as a bonus.
The New York Times
: New Amsterdam Presents, the feisty alt-classical label and concert-presenting organization that the composers William Brittelle, Judd Greenstein, and Sarah Kirkland Snider started in 2007, is collaborating with the Q2 Music web page on an unusual fund-raising project for the company.
Every Wednesday for eight weeks, starting Nov. 13, Q2 will stream a remix of Caroline Shaw’s “Partita,” for which she won the Pulitzer Prize this year. The streaming tracks are freely available, but if you want to download one, or all eight, the page provides a link to New Amsterdam’s fund-raising page, where you can make a donation (the amount is not specified, but it is tax deductible) and download the tracks.