“New York City has always thrived on its ability to merge glitz with grime, creating products that incorporate both high-brow idealism and raw, gritty experimentation. From art to architecture, New York has built itself upon this odd alchemy. The proliferation of trends that spew from the five boroughs each offer forth different takes on the City’s life. From punk to no-wave, art-rock to folk and all other jumbles of creativity, New York births more inspired art than any other modern city. Composer Rhys Chatham’s powerful, uncompromising body of work, his exploration of noise, chaos, composition and calm is in many ways the most direct, passionate musical manifestation of this postmodern way. Chatham exhibits an exceptional ability to bridge together the intricacies of classical composition with the kick-in-the-gut whallop of rock ‘n’ roll.”
Ethan Covey, Dusted


Rhys Chatham
A Rhys Chatham Compendium 1971-1989

Table of the Elements
[Barium] TOE-CD-56
Compact disc

A Rhys Chatham Compendium is distilled from the comprehensive boxed-set retrospective, An Angel Moves Too Fast to See: Selected Works: 1971-1989. It features excerpts from all of Chatham's major "minimal" pieces; together they present a portrait of a city and a milieu where, for a moment, the raw, the sophisticated, the meditative and the danceable merged.


Rhys Chatham
An Angel Moves Too Fast to See: Selected Works: 1971-1989

Table of the Elements
[Lanthanum] SWC-CD-57
3x compact discs, 112-page book, 96-page catalog, foil, lithography, multiple enclosures

At first glance, New York-born composer Rhys Chatham might have seemed unlikely to alter the DNA of rock. A classically trained musician, Chatham was piano tuner to Glenn Gould and La Monte Young, student of Young and Morton Subotnick, protégé of Tony Conrad, and in 1971, while still in his teens, founder of the highly influential experimental music program at the Kitchen in lower Manhattan. Nevertheless, it was Rhys Chatham who first applied multiple electric guitars to the extended-duration, overtone-drenched minimalism of the 1960s. This amalgamation—of the intellectual experimentalism and textural sophistication of the avant-garde with the rhythmic brashness and visceral punch of punk rock—produced a raucous, ecstatic new type of urban music that energized the downtown New York scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, a music whose influence can be heard in the subsequent work of the many luminaries who participated in Chatham's ensembles, including Glenn Branca and members of Sonic Youth, Mars, Band of Susans and Swans.

A comprehensive 3-disc retrospective, An Angel Moves Too Fast to See includes all of Chatham's major "minimal" pieces, from the thunderous "Two Gongs" (1971) and the No-Wave tumult of "Guitar Trio" (1977) to the brass-based "Massacre on MacDougal Street" (1982) and the epic, previously unreleased "An Angel Moves Too Fast to See" (1989), scored for an orchestra of 100 electric guitars. The accompanying 136-page book features dozens of never-before-published photos plus essays by Chatham, Tony Conrad and Lee Ranaldo and artwork by famed visual artist Robert Longo. Together they present a portrait of a city and a milieu where, for a moment, the raw, the sophisticated, the meditative and the danceable merged.


“Like a demigod, [Rhys Chatham] set everything in motion and then disappeared, leaving us to figure out how to live in the universe he created."
New York Times

“For years Rhys Chatham's music has been more heard about than heard. While his work languished out of print, disciples such as Sonic Youth have gone to the bank with his sound. Chatham's sonic vocabulary is an inspired marriage of minimalist structures, rock cadences and glittering overtones obtained from massed electric guitars played in unusual tunings at crushing volume. [His] knack for garbling indelible melodies in gorgeous sonorities makes them as attractive as ever today."
Chicago Tribune

“Blue Oyster Cult and Kiss might've made noises about guitar armies, but it took composer Rhys Chatham to actually deploy one. And there's no other way to say this: It rocks."

“A huge reckoning with one of the downtown greats looming larger than the Federal Reserve building. Chatham is huge, and that the box grasps so much of that significance makes it a crowning achievement."

“Everything compelling about Chatham's music is crystallized here, and any fan of experimental music from the last four decades would do well to pay heed."
Baltimore City Paper

“A real jewel. Using six guitars playing interlocking melodies, Chatham weaves an intricate tapestry that's alternately ear-splitting and nearly Eastern in its delicacy... Get the fuses and the earplugs ready!"
Trouser Press

“As An Angel Moves Too Fast To See unfolds, it develops an extended sense of grandeur that should be obvious to anyone. If some segments function very well as art rock, others really transcend all known genres—just huge wallows in oceans of sound. This set documents the music on which [Chatham's] reputation rests and which almost slid through the fingers of history. The package is gorgeous, the notes thorough. And the music is, well, angelic. Really."
Byron Coley, The Wire

“With Sonic Youth plowing their way across the nation on the steam of their earliest, most fearsome material, what better time for a retrospective on Rhys Chatham, one of the group's biggest early influences? Chatham, a student of Tony Conrad, La Monte Young, and Morton Subotnick, created a series of dense, overdriven guitar symphonies that predated even those of Glenn Branca, who participated in Chatham's ensembles along with later members of Sonic Youth, Swans, and Band of Susans. This set features fearsome monoliths of tonality that bridge the avant-garde and pure power rock in an accessible, visceral way that Branca's work never has."
Austin Chronicle

“To those of us who experienced it back when, “Die Donnergotter” still packs the same joyful wallop, strutting along jauntily, riff piled upon riff, with its own special kind of clarity and orgasmic tension and release. Loud, raucous, barely controlled and sublime."
The Squid's Ear

“Chatham aimed for naturalism and transcendence; simultaneously beatific and horrifying, his music can sound like tornadoes or a swarm of bees, as peaceful as a nave or as chaotic as an avalanche. Sumptuously designed ... check it out."

“Another killer Table of the Elements release. Fans of Branca, Sonic Youth, Wire, Mission of Burma, etc., will love this. Brilliant, and a great introduction to this oft-forgotten chap."
KUSF, San Francisco

“The music glories in the primal joy of chiming overtones and massed rhythms, and swings madly. It grins and bounds. Art music has rarely sounded so happy and well-adjusted."
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Stunning ... ambitious ... majestic ... Imagine Steve Reich conducting Godspeed You Black Emperor! and you'll be some way towards realizing this man's sound and vision ... Massive."

“Explodes in a wall of grinding guitars before collapsing into optimistic breakdowns, proving that this is music for the mind ... Mammoth."
Creative Loafing, Atlanta

“One of the most impressive Table of the Elements releases to date!"
Downtown Music Gallery

“A volatile, shimmering wash of overtones ... a revelation."
Art Papers

“... Absolutely thrilling ... It rules."
Sueddeutsche Zeitung

“Gratifying, sternum-thudding din."
Leonardo/MIT Press

“Surging phosphorescence ... Uplifting."
Rolling Stone

“Black-and-Decker classical."
Guitar Player


Rhys Chatham
Die Donnergotter

Radium/Table of the Elements
Compact disc/2x Phono LPs, gatefold jacket


Rhys Chatham
An Angel Moves Too Fast to See (for 100 Electric Guitars)

Radium/Table of the Elements
Compact disc/Phono LP

By the late 1980s, Rhys Chatham was chafing against the logistical and financial constraints imposed upon him in the States; in his mind was a vast, unprecedented sound. Chatham relocated to Paris and began composing his masterpiece, a piece for one hundred electric guitars, electric bass and drums. The resulting An Angel Moves Too Fast to See is one of the most extraordinary works in the minimalist canon, one that demonstrates the majesty inherent in Chatham’s amplified imagination. Now widely available for the first time, this lavish CD presents this sonic revolution in all its glory, and cements Chatham’s reputation as a monolithic figure astride both rock and classical musics.

“As An Angel Moves Too Fast To See unfolds, it develops an extended sense of grandeur that should be obvious to anyone. If some segments function very well as art rock, others really transcend all known genres—just huge wallows in oceans of sound. This is the music on which his reputation rests and which almost slid through the fingers of history. And the music is, well, angelic. Really.”
Byron Coley, The Wire


Rhys Chatham
A Crimson Grail (for 400 Electric Guitars, Electric Bass)

Table of the Elements
[Seaborgium] TOE-CD-106
Compact disc

Rhys Chatham, the man who rocks the minimalist canon like a hurricane, gathers up the City of Light in the evanescent beauty of his latest piece, written for 400 guitars and performed live in the basilica of landmark Sacre Coeur, with an audience of 10,000 watching live and 100,000 viewing on TV. As the music shimmers, it offers a snapshot of eternity, an echo of a moment a thousand years gone, and a thousand years to come.


Rhys Chatham
Two Gongs (1971)

Table of the Elements
[Tantalum] TOE-CD-73
Compact disc

“The hour-long Two Gongs fills the entirety of [this] disc with its ethereal, droning psychedelia. While written in 1971, the ’89 recording documented here features Chatham, along with fellow composer Yoshimasa Wada coaxing heavy, overlapping tones out of a pair of Chinese gongs. The instruments buzz and hum, moving in waves from deafening rattles to soft, muted drones. The monstrous noise that Chatham concocts is far more akin to the seismic crashes of monstrously distorted guitar feedback than that of two unprocessed slabs of metal, and it proves the composer’s interest in creating a similar world of sound out of whatever instrument currently proved his muse. On disc, the performance is jaw-droppingly powerful, a monumental chunk of glorious noise.”
Ethan Covey, Dusted

“Two Gongs is a gem of minimalist composition, and is reason enough to sing Chatham’s praises. The music swells and clangs, an ocean of squirming metal capable of simulating heroin stupor and root canal in equal measure.”


Rhys Chatham’s Essentialist

Radium/Table of the Elements

“Essentialist takes on a more Kantian approach to heavy metal in the sense that Chatham has broken the music down to its basic duties, revealing what exactly makes heavy metal so heavy. “
Chad Radford, Creative Loafing


Rhys Chatham & His Guitar Trio All Stars

Radium/Table of the Elements
3x compact discs, 48-page book

Utilizing multiple electric guitars and a single chord, 1977’s “Guitar Trio” is composer Rhys Chatham’s signature work, and a euphoric, minimal-punk classic. It’s an inspired amalgamation — the droning, shimmering harmonics of John Cale and Tony Conrad fused with the power and fury of the Ramones — that had a meteoric impact. It placed Chatham at the forefront of the burgeoning No Wave scene; its influence then spread further, as protégés and participants in Chatham’s ensembles — including Glenn Branca and members of Sonic Youth — folded the sound into their own. “Guitar Trio” remains a composition with a half-life, an adventure in sound that continues to radiate influence and inspiration.

Now, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of “Guitar Trio” on an epic scale, Chatham musters an all-star guitar army for the 3xCD set, “GUITAR TRIO IS MY LIFE!” The sprawling collection features members of Sonic Youth, Swans, Tortoise, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Hüsker Dü, Modern Lovers, Silver Mt. Zion, Town and Country, Die Kreutzen, 90-Day Men, Collections of Colonies of Bees, and many more; even Tony Conrad gets in on the act. Together these artists celebrate Chatham’s wordless anthem, with its minimalist origins, rock & roll rhythm, ecstatic whorl of harmonics, and ever-evolving, ever-expanding nature.

So, take a listen, and hear what one man can do with hundreds of guitars, 30 years, one chord, and a skyscraper of amps set to Liquefy. “Guitar Trio” endures.

“[Rhys Chatham] is one of noise rock’s founding fathers. Without him, there would be no Sonic Youth, no Jesus and Mary Chain, no My Bloody Valentine … he remains a towering figure among six-string aficionados.”
Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune, author of Wilco: Learning How to Die

“Blue Oyster Cult and Kiss might’ve made noises about guitar armies, but it took composer Rhys Chatham to actually deploy one. And there’s no other way to say this: It rocks”
Bill Meyer, Magnet

“Surging phosphorescence … uplifting.”
David Fricke, Rolling Stone


Rhys Chatham
Echo Solo

Azoth Schallplatten Gesellschaft
[Polonium] TOE-LP-84
Phono LP

By 1989, downtown legend Rhys Chatham had been fusing art music and punk rock for almost fourteen years and wanted to try his hand at something else. Accordingly, he set out to combine forms using a diverse vocabulary drawn exclusively from the classic avant-garde; the result is Echo Solo. In it, Chatham appropriates a number of musical styles—serial technique, chance operations, and just intonation—then through a process of amalgamation and superimposition, he transcends their original musical meaning while at the same time imploding it. Only the tiniest pair of critical scissors could isolate the individual elements from the final product; it's a fascinating, paradoxical composition, one which the composer happily describes as "a rite of decimation."


Rhys Chatham
Three Aspects of the Name
Lanthanides Series

Table of the Elements
[Terbium] SWC-LP-65
Phono LP, silkscreen

“In 'Three Aspects of the Name' I return to my roots as a hard-core minimalist. The musical vocabulary is essentially that of my earlier composition, ‘Guitar Trio’ (1977), where most of the harmonic and melodic content occurs in the overtones generated by the fundamental pitches being played, primarily one-note. The current piece marks my first use of this particular technique for voice. The three words of text comes from a traditional Hebrew inspirational chant that I chose to work with, for, among other reasons, its highly selective and potent use of vowel sounds, which lend themselves to the unfolding creative story that the overtones tell over the course of the composition."
Rhys Chatham


Rhys Chatham
Jonathan Kane’s February
Paul Duncan
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/Phono LP, white vinyl, 2x posters


Rhys Chatham (France/USA)
w/ “Die Dönnergötter” Guitar Army
+ Jonathan Kane + Ernie Brooks III
+ original artwork and projections by Robert Longo
Arnold Dreyblatt and the Orchestra of Excited Strings (Germany)
Jonathan Kane’s February (USA)
Tony Conrad (USA)
Zeena Parkins (USA)
San Agustin (USA)
Andrew Burnes/David Daniell/Thurston Moore Trio (USA)
Leif Inge (Norway) 9 Beet Stretch: 24-hour performance

Table of the Elements Festival no. 3


Table of the Elements
[Dubnium] TOE-105

Central Presbyterian Church
8th and Brazos
Austin, Texas
March 15-16, 2005
Entry: South by Southwest festival pass
Producers: Jeff Hunt/SxSW