Qasim Naqvi is best known as the drummer for the eclectic, poly-stylistic improvising trio Dawn of Midi – and known to many, many more people than ever, thanks to the band’s opening spot on Radiohead’s two sold-out Madison Square Garden shows in July. But Naqvi has also made a serious splash as an estimable composer in his own right, with remarkable collections of his electronic and chamber music available through his Bandcamp site and via the always on-point not-just-cassettes label NNA Tapes.
Naqvi’s newest release, Chronology, is the result of his collaboration with painter Pippo Lionni and the P! Gallery in New York City. According to our friends at New Amsterdam Records, “the collaboration chronicled a sharing of ideas between both artists as an asynchronous call-and-response where painting, music, and graphic notation blended through common and conflictual gestures.”
New Amsterdam is set to release Chronology this Friday, Nov. 4. But we like it so much that we’re going to let you hear the entire thing in advance exclusively, starting right now.
Here’s what Naqvi has to say about the project and process:
“I was keen on somehow mirroring Pippo’s process through sound. His paintings are made with a spare set of elements. With layers of transparency, interference, and graphic form, he is able to achieve a set of permutations with the basic ingredients of black acrylic enamel and a canvas. I was struck by his restraint and use of one color source, and the kind of visual distortion achieved through a process of slow layering. So for the music, I reacted by using an analog device instead of a computer.
“When we think of a computer, we think of limitless options and an abundance of memory for recalling ideas. The Moog holds a reverse approach. It’s a tactile piece of machinery with discrete circuits, 3 voltage-controlled oscillators, and knobs for controlling the contour of the oscillator. It’s monophonic, so chords or polyphonic playing is out of the question. The absence of this function required a layering of ideas in stages. Also, there’s no way of saving anything or recalling presets. Once you make a sound, that’s it. It exists in that moment unless you chronicle the settings by writing them down. It’s kind of like making a gesture with a brush. Once it strikes the canvas, you can either freeze it in time or erase it forever.
“On the level of functionality, the machine was kind of janky. It produced a low level din of white electrical noise and some of the knobs were erratic. It was like bringing some ancient thing back from the dead and having it adapt. But with sound that always leads to interesting results.”
As described by New Amsterdam: “Naqvi’s reaction to Pippo’s work was an electronic composition, produced on the Moog Model D analog synthesizer, as well as a series of corresponding transcriptions. Part score and part art object, these transcriptions use a graphic notational system of Naqvi’s own design, logging the settings of the synthesizer and also representing pitch, dynamics, and duration over a period of time.”
Here, have a look: