Simple Songs

by Doug Perkins

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Doug Perkins’s “Simple Songs” on New Focus represents his solo debut recording, and is a wonderful document of the dynamism that exists in the constantly growing percussion repertoire. Praised as a “percussion virtuoso” by the New York Times, Doug has assembled a kaleidoscopic collection of works for solo percussion, focusing on the extremes of virtuosity on one hand and percussion music's penchant for the art of tinkering on the other. From the haunting meditation of vibraphone and one-bit music in Tristan Perich’s Momentary Expanse to the quirky noises of David Lang’s Unchained Melody, and ending with Michael Gordon’s monolithic XY, the range of the record is reflective of the vast scope of interests captivating the contemporary percussionist.

Beau Sievers’ Spatial Network for Percussion extends experimentation to the compositional process itself. Beau’s computerized score “knows” Doug’s setup but gives him an entirely unique realization within those parameters for each performance. This recording represents just one realization of an infinite number of possibilities. At the heart of this record both conceptually and personally is Simple Songs of Birth and Return by critically acclaimed composer, percussionist, and New Focus labelmate Nathan Davis (FCR120). Nathan and Doug’s friendship extends back for over 15 years, having gone to the same school, lived in the same apartments, and shared personal milestones (Doug was Nathan’s best man; “A Tale Begun” was written so Doug could practice as his newborn slept). It is at once a sonic exploration worthy of an indie venue and an intimate gift to a good friend. In the brotherly spirit of the transaction, the recording session for Davis’ work took place over two nights in Doug’s sauna in his New England home, temporarily retrofitted in true contemporary percussion DIY style as a recording studio for the occasion.

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Capturing the personal nature of the project, Doug commissioned a comic book in lieu of program notes from music writer, composer, and comic book artist, Matthew Guerrierri. The percussion world is a club of sorts, and knowing about the inordinate and unique logistic hurdles that practitioners face is the barrier to entry. It seems fitting for a recording by a young veteran of this world to describe the works through a veneer of humor, undoubtedly the same veneer that comes in handy when packing up one’s gear alone after yet another show.

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released February 9, 2013

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New Focus Recordings New York, New York

New Focus Recordings is an artist led collective label featuring releases in contemporary music of many stripes, as well as new approaches to older repertoire. The label was founded by guitarist Daniel Lippel (who is the current director), composer engineer Ryan Streber, and composer Peter Gilbert in 2003-4, and features releases from many of new music's most active performers and composers. ... more

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