Melissa St. Pierre
Radium/Table of the Elements
Compact disc, video
Video by Bradly Brown with Jeff Hunt
Melissa St. Pierre tosses classicism and post-classicism overboard, utilizing the prepared piano—John Cage's notorious instrument of choice—and electronic enhancement to sail resolutely in the direction of rock & roll. Peppering the strings, hammers, and dampers with a variety of objects, she transforms the piano's typical timbre: sparkling gamelans chatter; harrowing voodoo drums call out in the night. Specimens, St. Pierre's debut, features production and performances by Jon Mueller and Collections of Colonies of Bees; together they rival famed electric harpist Zeena Parkins as conservatory arsonists with a decidedly Hendrixian flair.
"The East Coast avant-garde pianist Melissa St. Pierre’s first release borrows extensively from the playbook of such established figures in the genre as John Cage, Steve Reich, and Brian Eno. It’s a series of eight short studies performed on prepared piano that more than make up in wit and invention what they lack in length. Conjuring sounds of gamelan, squeaky kids’ toys, and someone doing unmentionable things to a grandfather clock, St. Pierre’s sketches range from introspective to playful, their multiple sonic layers indicating that she’s achieving maximum results with her minimalist palette."
"Weird sounds, great chops." —Tony Conrad
Jonathan Kane’s February
Collections of Colonies of Bees
School of Seven Bells
Melissa St. Pierre (Japan)
Impala Eardrums: A Radium Sampler
Radium/Table of the Elements
Compact disc, poster, video (Japan)/Phono LP, white vinyl, 4/C labels, 2x posters
Original video by Bradly Brown and Jeff Hunt
For fifteen years, Table of the Elements has been the preeminent source of avant audio, championing minimal, improvised, and outsider musics of various spots and stripes. Now, as its influence radiates outward, the label presents Radium, its “rock” imprint, showcased here with Impala Eardrums, A Radium Sampler. While minimalist legend Rhys Chatham leads the way with a delightful unreleased piece from his mid-80s archives, most of the other contributors are younger folks, from a new generation of performers. It’s a diverse bunch, ranging from the raw Americana of Megafaun and Jonathan Kane, to the humid, pulsating krautrock of Ateleia and the spectral songcraft of Paul Duncan. Neptune serves up its version of home-forged proto-clangor, while Collections of Colonies of Bees and School of Seven Bells pour forth in glistening, shimmering waves. Together, these eight tracks — all previously unreleased on CD — have one thing in common: a resolute will to march headlong into the untamed brambles and briar patches of 21st-century sound.
“Table of the Elements was established in 1993, and since then has released some of the most gorgeous looking and most aurally intriguing releases to grace the music scene. Providing a home to such artists as the hugely respected avant-garde violinist Tony Conrad, harpist Zeena Parkins, Krautrock kings Faust, Sonic Youth mainman Thurston Moore, guitar god Loren Connors, Japanese noise merchant Keiji Haino, British weird-folk lynchpin Richard Youngs and the late Derek Bailey among many, many others, it is pretty easy to see the kind of influence they have had. Fifteen years on and the label shows no signs of letting up. Without Table of the Elements the world would be a far duller place.”
“This philosophy of risk works because everyone associated with the label feels like they’re doing important work, releasing important records, and they’re willing to go for broke to make it happen.”
“Table of the Elements are fearless purveyors of the wildest stuff around.”
New York Times
“A national treasure.”