Long Play 2024 – Thursday & Friday Recap

Brooklyn's Long Play Festival started with a special Thursday early even before going into Friday....
Patti Smith & Soundwalk Collective

The Long Play Festival exploded into being around downtown Brooklyn Thursday-Sunday, May 2nd-5th, kicking off with limited Thursday and Friday events before fully blooming into its multiple-venue stride for its 3rd annual iteration.

Long Play

On Thursday, Flutist Claire Chase and string ensemble JACK Quartet soulfully administered the premiere of Terry Riley’s “The Holy Liftoff”, a mesmerizing hour-plus of ascending revelry in the low-lit rear room venue at Public Records.

Agile backers JACK offered sonorous swells, tip-toe string plucks, and slow-thump backbone to foundationally support Chase’s collaborative and unique read on the specifically commissioned work. More than mere page-to-instrument translation, Riley’s score, pinned to the surrounding walls, is a colorfully illustrated, open-to-interpretation visual feast of ideas and suggestions, which Chase merged with pre-recorded backing to merge the higher and lower flute registers into a forceful sonic whole.

The repeated melody, indeed, had a rising quality, and yet the notes fully interlaced somehow pulled it simultaneously earthbound, an aural trick executed skillfully in Chase’s nimble and propulsive interpretation. The piece, only a fractional part of the performer’s larger Density project, sometimes had a tense quality, implying one ought to ascend carefully. But Riley’s pre-recorded voice, employed occasionally to announce new sections, announced “All rise!,” causing the crowd to unexpectedly and happily laugh in unison, after which the music resolved free and clear.

Claire Chase

Patti Smith & Soundwalk Collective

At BAM Friday Soundwalk Collective (founder Stephan Crasneanscki and producer Simone Merli) orchestrated an evening of intense sensory overload (simultaneously: soundscapes, live instruments, oversized visuals, spoken word) fronted by frequent collaborator and unrivaled rock poet royal Patti Smith.

Presenting both pieces from newly released EP Correspondences, Vol 1, Smith at first seemed solidly confined to the spoken-with-profundity verbal corridors of the medium, but then the elastic, shapeshifting Smith gradually emerged: shrieking, singing, and occasionally slyly stage acting, such as on the thumping “Pasolini,” when the narrator’s confusion about the script had her convincing turned to the wings, seemingly calling off stage to the
production staff.

On the instrumental side, as curative to the tech mysteries of behind-the-electronics laptop soundscaping, one Soundwalk member left his computer and quite viscerally took to picking, stabbing and shaving a close-mic’d on-stage block of ice, the tundra crunch broadcasting over the speakers, the chill visibly rising off the percussively-deployed frozen slab.

Smith, clearly in admiration of her visual collaborators, turned near 180° to catch a glimpse of the massive floor-to-ceiling arthouse projections in the rare instance she wasn’t facing the crowd. A rich bombast for the eye, including: orgiastic bacchanal! Anointed clergy and saints! Mesmerizing colors! Willem Dafoe driving at night!

After the simmering mayhem of the main set, all was stripped away and Smith re-emerged, only her daughter playing keyboard at her side, for a (comparatively) muted and poignant two-song encore. “Wing” came first, the simple refrain repeated: “It was beautiful / it was beautiful.”

And then the second and final song, “The People have the Power”, sent us home. Towards its end, before the full auditorium joined for the chorus, Smith gave us each her gift, faithfully promising: “as I surrender to my sleeping / I commit my dream to you.”

Patti Smith & Soundwalk Collective

-Patti Smith & Soundwalk Collective photos by Julieta Cervantes

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