An electric guitar quartet

  • The Dither Quartet
    (Taylor Levine, David Linaburg, Joshua Lopes & James Moore)

The Dither Quartet, a New York based electric guitar quartet, is dedicated to an eclectic mix of experimental repertoire which spans composed music, improvisation, and electronic manipulation. Formed in 2007, the quartet has performed in the United States and abroad, presenting new commissions, original compositions, multimedia works, and large guitar ensemble pieces. With sounds ranging from clean pop textures to heavily processed noise, from tight rhythmic unity to cacophonous sound mass; all of The Dither Quartet's music wholeheartedly embraces the beautiful, engulfing, and often gloriously loud sound of electric guitars. The quartet's members are Taylor Levine, David Linaburg, Joshua Lopes, and James Moore.

The Dither Quartet's recent collaborators include downtown bagpiper Matthew Welch, composers Eve Beglarian and David Lang, and guitarist/composers Bryce Dessner, Nick Didkovsky, Marco Cappelli, Elliott Sharp, and Mark Stewart. In Fall of 2008, the quartet traveled to Hong Kong to premiere an evening-length theatrical work by Samson Young, "Hong Kong Explodes!", funded by the Hong Kong Council for the Arts. Recent performances in New York include the Performa Biennial, The MATA Festival Interval Series, and the Bang on a Can Marathon, at which they gave a monstrous performance of Eric km Clark's exPAT, a Dither commission for hearing-deprived guitar orchestra.

Liner Notes by Elliott Sharp

Memories of the Ed Sullivan show in the mid-1960s juxtapose the Beatles/Stones with The Romeros: a classical guitar quarte of great virtuosity but kitschy presence trumped by teenage sexual energy. The common element: guitars. The difference: acoustic vs electric, high art vs low. The battle lines were drawn and I knew instantly on which sides of the barricades I would fight.The flaming sword was the electric guitar:loud,twangy,and,best of all,distorted: the bane of the audio spectrum. The transforma- tion of the heights of Apollonian grandeur into dirty Dionysian ecstasy was the goal. Cool vs Hot; pas- sion sublimated vs passion unleashed.The Head vs the Body. More parallels and dipoles: Jimi Hendrix feedback symphonies and Stockhausen's Mikropho- nie. Ornette Coleman's Skies Of America and Xena- kis' Bohor. Cecil Taylor's Conquistador and the Grosse Fuge. Trout Mask Replica and Black Angels. Charges of equal weight with polarities defined by different worlds: the street and the academy. But there the battle ends because for the listener with open ears, there is no separation, no opposition, just the glory of saturated spectra and intensity of myriad colors.

The quartet concept: the gravitas of four corners, circle in square, life cubed and balanced. The string quartet is one of the great Ur Ensembles. Like the classic rock power trio or brass choir or woodwind quintet, certain groupings of instruments make so much sense, are so inevitable, that they serve as sonic DNA. It takes only a small conceptual leap from string quartet to guitar quartet and the latter offers certain textural pleasures that are not to be found in the arco world (& vice versa!). In my own work I've been pulled into the guitar quartet vortex for years, beginning in 1977 with the Other Buffalo Guitar Quartet inspired by a cross-breeding of Ligeti, gamelan, Ar t Ensemble of Chi- cago, and a vision of free rock improvisation. Later in New York, it was Gx4 in ‘92 and The Dyners Club in ‘94, engendering a search for a balance between compositional rigor and improvisational abandon, for a music that pays homage to the history of the instru- ment while trashing it completely in the service of never-before-heard-it-tude, a process encompassing new strategies and timbres and a willingness to start from scratch.

This process is clear in The Dither Quartet's album of beautifully violent strangeness. Focus on the word "dither" and its multiple usages: a method of synthe- sizing intermediate colors normally unavailable by super-imposing dot patterns; andbetter: intentionally applying forms of noise to eliminate quantization error manifested as drop-outs or uncorrelated noise. Our physical ears want that correlated noise; our inner ears want to create illusive representations out of the reality that's offered to us.The 15th century ori- gin of the current word is "didderen"— to quake or tremble. Implied is an agitated state: the perfect implication for multiple electric guitars shaped by five young composers who each fill a unique soundworld with methods and sounds that glow with high-contrast hyperreality. These composers have not been brainwashed in the ivory tower mentality. The ruthless attack, biting tones, full-on intensity, and rhythmic acuity are typical of a new generation of composers fluent in the entire his- tory of Western music yet more strongly resonat- ing with noise, punk, hip-hop, non-Western musics, and post-Cagean approaches. The compositions and performances on this CD speaks to those of us who hunger for more in music than pleasantries and who know that there IS always MORE and are willing to dig in to find it. Diddere!


James Moore is a versatile guitarist with many musical personalities. Performing on a wide variety of acoustic and electric guitars, banjos and adapted instruments, James combines the sensitivity and lyricism from his classical training with a healthy dose of improvisation, theatrics, and experimentation. James's performances have brought him to concert halls and experimental venues across the country and abroad. As a soloist, he has been found at the Chelsea Art Museum playing music for just-intonation steel string guitar, at Northwestern University performing on prepared classical guitar, in downtown Los Angeles presenting a set of amplified banjo compositions, and with the Astoria Symphony premiering a concerto for the Greek bouzouki. In addition to an active career as a freelance musician, James's own projects include the folk-noise group Oliphant, the experimental band Passenger Fish, and conceptually extreme chamber music project Ensemble de Sade. James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, received his undergraduate degree in guitar performance and electronic music from The University of California, Santa Cruz, and his MM in guitar performance from the Yale School of Music. He currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Taylor Levine is a guitarist in the NYC area. He is the co-founder/co-director of the sextet Kyklos, and the founder/co-director of the electric guitar quartet Dither. He also performs regularly with Newspeak and Your Bad Self, as well as other groups. He has worked with Meredith Monk, Theo Bleckmann, Ridge Theater, Newband (A Harry Partch Ensemble), Bang on a Can, including the UK production of Obie-winning opera The Carbon Copy Building, and with the Dutch dance company Emio Greco | PC in a new work which premiered at the Holland Dance Festival. His performances have opened him to an international community, which includes the United Kingdom, China, Italy, Netherlands and France. Taylor also pursues an active role as an educator in the NYC area. He studied at The Manhattan School of Music and The Amsterdam Conservatory. Taylor currently resides in Manhattan.

David Linaburg is a guitarist living in Brooklyn, NY. While earning a composition and jazz performance degree in Charleston SC he became very active in Charleston's creative music community performing everything from improv-rock to such classics as In C, Worker's Union, and Electric Counterpoint. In 2008 the Charleston City Paper named him best experimental electric guitarist He has performed up and down the East Coast playing gospel, new music, alt-country and jazz, with a brief stint playing bossa and samba in Copenhagen.

Since moving to New York, David has been working on a master's degree in jazz studies in addition to maintaining a teaching position with Third Street Music's MILES program. Notable performances include performing original work at the Stone, premiering Jason Brogan's Six Sounds at the Ontological Hysteric Theater, and the 2009 Bang on a Can Marathon with Dither's Deprivation Orchestra. Among many other venues in the city, he has played at the Knitting Factory, Issue Project Room, Listen/Space, Monkey Town, The Bitter End, The Living Room, and Banjo Jim's.

Joshua Lopes was born and raised in Rhode Island, is a (not so) newly encitizened denizen of the northern New Jersey area, where he has established himself as a teacher, guitarist, bassist, composer, noise designer, avid parenthetical statementeer, haphazard neologist, and overall swell guy. Joshua is also known as Mr. Lopes at Camden Middle School in Newark, where he teaches general and instrumental music.


Accomplished violinist, composer, and improviser Eric KM Clark has performed throughout the world, the majority of his shows taking place in Los Angeles, Toronto, and New York City. Originally from Victoria, BC, Mr. Clark first moved to the US in 2004 to study at the California Institute of the Arts with James Tenney. He has worked with many of the world's most innovative artists and ensembles, including Michael Gordon, Guy Maddin, Wadada Leo Smith and the Silver Orchestra, Christian Kesten, Michael Pisaro, and Butch Morris. Mr. Clark is currently a member of the California E.A.R. Unit (LA), Object Collection (NYC), neithernor (TOR), and the Kadima String Quartet (LA). His playing has been released on Innova, New World, Tonehole Music, and Sundialtech.

Mr. Clark's compositions have been performed at REDCAT, the Berkshire Fringe Festival, Issue Project Room (for MATA Interval 2.3), the Extensible Electric Guitar Festival, and the Ontological-Hysteric Incubator. He has written several works that explore Hearing Deprivation, which involves combining earplugs and over-the-head headphones playing back extremely loud white noise to mask a performer's hearing. This creates a type of hermetic canon, as all performers are playing the same part and each individual's unique inner tempo takes over. Mr. Clark is also a co-founder of "the wulf.", a 501(c)3 non- profit experimental performance venue located in downtown LA.

Growing up on a farm in northeast Missouri, Lisa R. Coons acquired a special affinity to noise composition and found sounds. She studied composition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City during her undergraduate degree and received her Masters from SUNY Stony Brook. Presently a graduate student at Princeton University, her recent work has expanded to include works for amplified instruments, turntables, and metal percussion sculptures with homemade electronics. She received the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award In 2005 for her string quartet Awkward Music, and in 2009 for her electric guitar quartet Cross-secitons. SHE is a member of the New York-based composers collective, The Collected.

Jascha Narveson's music is rooted in rhythm and timing, and draws from everything it can. He absorbed the language of the classical music cannon from an early age, being surrounded by live chamber music recitals in his family home in Waterloo, Ontario, and later went on to play in industrial bands, improvised noise-music ensembles, study North Indian tabla, computer programming, South Indian rhythm, Batá drumming, Georgian choral music, and many other things besides. His disparate influences seem, over time, to be less and less disparate to him.

Lainie Fefferman was born in 1982. Lainie did her undergrad at Yale (where she studied Music and Near Eastern Languages) and is currently in her third year of the composition grad program at Princeton. Lainie's past, present and future collaborators include: pianist Michael Mizrahi, cellist Jody Redhage guitarist/banjoist James Moore, electric guitar quartet Dither, So Percussion, The New York Virtuoso Singers, and the Yale Collegium Musicum.

Lainie lives in New York. Lainie has participated in workshops including: the Sentieri Selvaggi composer workshop in Milan (with Julia Wolfe), The Meredith Monk Vocal and Ensemble Workshop in New York City, The Bang on a Can Summer Residency in North Adams, Massachusetts, and the Arabic Music Retreat with Simon Shaheen at Mount Holyoke College.

Lainie has performed at several New York venues, including The United Nations General Assembly, Carnegie Hall, The Great Hall at Cooper Union, Roulette, Tenri, Monkeytown. She has occasionally performed at venues in California, (including Oakopolis), Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Her works have also been heard in Florida and England.

Lainie's recent performance projects include writing for and singing alto with avant vocal trio Celestial Mechanics (with sopranos Anne Hege and Sarah Paden) and writing for and singing with post-minimalist folk funk band Phthia (with Missy Mazzoli on melodica, Sara Phillips Budde on clarinet, and James Moore on banjo).

About the Album

This album captures an important moment in Dither's evolution as a group, and documents some of our closest and most rewarding collaborations. We chose to record eight monstrous tracks, which we hope come together to make a creative, genuine and unapologetic album with integrity and spirit.

"exPAT" by Eric km Clark was written for our debut concert at the Stone in 2007. Written for "as many guitarists as possible" it features the unique practice of hearing deprivation: the performers' hearing is masked through the use of earplugs and headphones playing back white noise, depriving the them of their ability to effectively coordinate with one another. exPAT has become a controversial highlight of many Dither shows, including an 11-guitar version that was performed at the 2009 Bang on a Can Marathon.

"Tongue of Thorns" by Lainie Fefferman and "Vectors" by Jascha Narveson were also written for us during our first year as a group for a performance at Princeton University. Since then, we have established a long-standing relationship with both composers and continue to develop their pieces.

"Cross-sections" by Lisa R. Coons was commissioned by us for the MATA festival's Interval Series, and also represents a growing artistic collaboration. Lisa received an ASCAP Morton Gould Young composers award for these pieces in 2009.

"Pantagruel" is written by Joshua Lopes, a member of the group, whose music continues to help define our style and personality.

Working with Stephen Griesgraber to record these tracks was an extremely rewarding experience. Through his passion for beautiful guitar tones, his refined ear, and a deep understanding of all of the compositions, he was able to bring out some truly amazing things from the group.


Canadian trio devoted to contemporary art with passion, Toca Loca in the "Shed" face four works selected from the repertoire of fairly old lions of the vanguard (Heinz Hollinger, Frederic Rzewski) and new rising stars of the classical experiments (Dai Fujikura, the fellow Andrew Staniland). As of now it appears the original formation, composed by the pair of pianists Simon Docking / Gregory Oh - the latter also in charge of run - and the excellent feat of Aiyun Huang grappling with a vast collection of percussion. Open Half-Remembered City of Fujikura, duo piano for four hands on the warrior mood, Docking and processed in two samurai Oh that face with the tactics of hit and run, thus cutting out an area leading to a durable occasioned by the mediation of pax silence on the other hand, the two have declared the same way as the two lovers feel virtuous and energetic. Hollinger, the father of the modern oboe, was celebrated with Ma 'Mounia, where our forces are added Max Christie (clarinet), Mary-Katherine Finch (cello), Gabriel Radford (French horn) and Stephen Tam (flute) at a high rate academic symposium, delivered by the usual route of ups and downs in volume and tension over the top job of chasing the harmonic tones of Huang closing. Adventuremusic: Love Her Madly signed Staniland is a path full of power in which the ear is tickled with delight to a bracket where the sound field seems to be transformed into electronic abstraction, only takes a few seconds, but its effect is at once seductive power . The curtain closes with a must of Rzewski, Bring Them Home!, 'Song' to protest footage dating back to the '70s, inspired in turn by a traditional Irish folk theme. Overall, "Shed" shows that they have character, linearity and the ability to satisfy the listener with great music.

The untranslated text:

Trio canadese consacrato con passione alla contemporanea, i Toca Loca in “Shed” affrontano quattro composizioni selezionate con equità dal repertorio di vecchi leoni dell’avanguardia (Heinz Hollinger, Frederic Rzewski) e di nuovi astri nascenti della sperimentazione colta (Dai Fujikura, il conterraneo Andrew Staniland). Da subito appare originale la formazione, composta dalla coppia di pianisti Simon Docking / Gregory Oh – quest’ultimo responsabile anche della conduzione – e dall’eccellente prodezza di Aiyun Huang alle prese con un vastissimo campionario di percussioni. Apre Half-Remembered City di Fujikura, duo di piano per quattro mani dal mood guerriero, Docking e Oh trasformati in due samurai che si affrontano con la tattica del mordi e fuggi, ritagliando così uno spazio da protagonista a una durevole mediazione di pax cagionata dal silenzio; dal canto loro, i due si presentano alla stregua di due amanti dichiarati del tocco virtuoso e scattante. Hollinger, il padre dell’oboe moderno, è celebrato con Ma’ Mounia, dove ai nostri si aggiungono le forze di Max Christie (clarinetto), Mary-Katherine Finch (cello), Gabriel Radford (corno francese) e Stephen Tam (flauto) in un simposio dall’alto tasso accademico, formulato secondo il consueto tragitto del sali e scendi di volume e tensione; sopra le righe il lavoro di cesellatura sui timbri armonici della Huang in chiusura. Adventuremusic: Love Her Madly a firma Staniland è un percorso denso di potenza in cui l’orecchio viene stuzzicato con piacere da una parentesi dove la materia acustica sembra quasi trasformarsi in astrattismo elettronico; dura solo pochi secondi, ma il suo effetto seducente fa subito presa. Il sipario si chiude con un must di Rzewski, Bring Them Home!, ‘canzone’ di protesta risalente al repertorio degli anni ’70, ispirata a sua volta da un tema folk della tradizione irlandese. Nel complesso “Shed” mostra di possedere carattere, linearità e la capacità di appagare l’ascoltatore con della buona musica.

- Sergio Eletto, Kathodi

Rocking out and breaking boundaries: A genre-bending amalgam.

The self-titled debut by New York-based electric guitar quartet Dither is a genre-bending amalgam of post-rock, noise, minimalism, and experimental music. Influenced as much by Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine as it is by contemporary classical, minimalism, and guitar experimentalists like Derek Bailey and Marc Ribot, the music comfortably straddles the ever-closing gap between academic music and noise rock.

Dither opens with “Tongue of Thorns,” a heavily distorted layering of guitars and thudding bass drum by NYC-based composer Lainie Fefferman. Built on a cycle of droning single chords, the piece is reminiscent of one of Glen Branca’s noise jams or the slow builds of Godspeed You Black Emperor. The guitars churn out incessant post-punk streams of 8th notes while polytonal chords clash against one another.

“Vectors,” by Jascha Narveson, offers an excerpt of antiphonal conversation between bent strings and detuned notes. Built largely around a single motif, the composition slowly deconstructs and rebuilds itself as an increasingly claustrophobic layering of loops that ends mid-phrase.

“Pantagruel”—composed by Dither’s own guitarist Joshua Lopes—is part Mario Brothers soundtrack, part deconstructive jazz, part classical minimalism, part Black Sabbath sludge. Knotted guitar lines break for alien howls; delay-pedaled motives swirl dreamily around one another.

The album’s centerpiece is the four part “Cross-sections” by New York composer Lisa R. Coons. “Entropion” opens the cycle. Part tangled free improvisation, the piece gradually coalesces into and deconstructs from a minimalist chromatic run passed between the instruments and punctuated by noisy and detuned chordal stabs. “Aphonia” alternates single guitar notes with cord/pickup noises, bubbling electroacoustics and fret sounds in an intriguing stream-of-conscious composition that gradually builds into layered see-saws of long glisses before ending in an art-damaged free jazz freakout.

“Cross-sections” continues with “Prolix,” a haunting minimalist movement in which dark chord progressions move in and out of phase with one another under ominous swells of feedback. The piece disintegrates into an unsettling tapestry of chromatic lines and tape sounds before moving to spacious, quiet hums of distortion that conjure images of a post-apocalyptic dreamscape. The cycle’s closer, “Venial,” simmers with a quiet David Lynchian quality—single guitar notes float aimlessly in space over carefully spaced film noire diminished chords.

Dither ends with “exPAT,” by composer Eric km Clark. The composition is a relentless nine-minute battle of droning, chugging guitar distortion, clashing dissonances, spastic chord stabs and thundering tremolo. The performers are instructed to wear earphones and headphones playing back white noise, making it so they can’t effectively hear or communicate with one another. The result is an invigoratingly chaotic punk rock mess—an apt closer for an album that draws equally from modern noise rock and the more “academic” canon of modern classical.

Like so much modern music, Dither draws indiscriminately from influences across the board. This is certainly academic music—each of the four performers and all of the composers involved studied music at a collegiate level. However, Dither also illustrates the ever-increasing incorporation of “non-studied” industrial music, electroacoustic tinkerings and experimental rock into the modern composer’s vocabulary. While this bending of genres is nothing new—think of Sonic Youth’s take on John Cage or Frank Zappa’s heavily-orchestrated rock acrobatics—it’s a reminder that so-called “new music” need not be the exclusive fare of university intellectuals. It can also be the output of a youthful ensemble that enjoys rocking out as much as it does breaking boundaries.


- Hannis Brown, Tokafi

The Dither Guitar Quartet comprises four New York City-based experimental guitarists who together create a sound aptly described in Elliott Sharp’s CD liner notes as “beautifully violent strangeness.” Taylor Levine, David Linaburg, Joshua Lopes, and James Moore wend their way through works by Lainie Fefferman, Jascha Narveson, Lisa R. Coons, Eric km Clark, and Lopes that traverse tonal territories from starkly sparse to quirkily rhythmic to gently dissonant to stridently chaotic. Brilliantly realized but not for melody seekers or the musically faint of heart.


- Barry Cleveland, Guitar Player

"Dither is an electric guitar quartet based in New York City" says the cover of their selftitled album from Henceforth. Basically jazz label so you expect a jazzy quartety stuff.

"Tongue of Thorns" opens with some ambient drones then bursts into a noise-rock drone with layering of bowed guitar, string play and drumming which I assume is knocking on the body, then in the last 2 minutes one guitar screams then shifts into sliding. This is not what you expected. Have a look at the cover - these are pieces written for quartet, only one by one of the members. So we are looking at a 'classical' quartet, modern and varied. Which the rest of the album demonstrates.

"Vectors" shifts between twangy loose picking, where different guitars (based on the sound placement in the auditory field - this is a lovely produced album) create a melody alternate with strumming, the volume increases and decreases and there is a shift between stasis and excited variation. The in-house composition "Pantagruel" is closer to my expectations and reminded me of Guitar Craft albums in the picking/tuning, but there a interruptions of feedback swizzing, some frippery sounds, atonal but melodic.

There are four parts to "Cross-sections": "Entropion" has picking moving melodies, rapid soft cycles that emphasise the players skills and provide solo opportunities; a more effects playing with crackling, pops, feedback, bending tones and drones in "Aphonia"; some gorgeous playing, frippertronic inserts and shifting density in "Prolix" and a simple buzzing and picked playing in "Venial".

A rocking, noisey wall of sound eases to dense but identifiable notes before rebuilding in the exciting closer "exPAT".

A stunning album - literally and figuratively. It completely avoided my expectations and offers a stunning insight into what can be done in a 'classical' quartet format with modern instruments. Another adjective - thrilling.

- Jeremy Keens, Ampersand Etcetera

Of the many "Dithers" you may find on amazon.com, this Dither, a NYC-based electric guitar quartet, is one of the more extreme and satisfying. If you've mind's-ear notions that this platter will likely evoke masters of Guitar Clang such as Glen Branca, Rhys Chatham, Sonic Youth, and Elliott Sharp (who contributed liner notes herein), you'd be partly correct. This debut release isn't an all-out assault (though there are moments of that, to be sure)-it's a collection of compositions from them that've grown-up with the six-string electric laced into their DNA. Lainie Fefferman's "Tongue of Thorns" lets an A-chord be its co-pilot, its guitar-ring going from a whisper to a steel mill bashing away to save its soul, or to summon the spirit of Joe Strummer From Beyond. Depending on your mood and proclivity toward repetition, you may find this annoying or cathartic (perhaps both, even). "Pantagruel," by Dither's own Joshua Lopes, assimilates the shades of Steve Howe's picking for Yes in the early 1970s, pensive jazz phrasing, Albert Ayler skronk, and the ominous, hammer-of-justice-about-to-fall twang of Spaghetti Western soundtracks. Miss the confrontational 'tude of No Wave? Put on your best basic black (and appear aloof or surly), and crank up Eric K.M. Clark's "exPAT." It's an exhilarating and occasionally confounding exercise in divergence, confluence, and middle-finger merriment. Compared to this, Branca sounds like Larry Carlton. Dither is uneasy listening to be sure, but there's also a bracing sense of joie de vivre amid the clangor, along with a lack of academic solemnity.

- Mark Keresman, Signal to Noise #59 p.6

Attenzione ai vostri speakers: non fatevi ingannare dalla partenza sommessa e sottovoce di questo album. Dopo poco più di novanta secondi di musica amniotica, remota, sottilmente suggestiva, si scatena la bestia che si annida in questo quartetto di chitarre elettriche benedetto da Elliott Sharp. Il torrente di lava che ci piomba addosso è uno tsunami inaspettato che travolge tutto nel suo passaggio impetuoso, per liberare energie e pulsioni, incantesimi ed elucubrazioni.

Niente resiste al passaggio di questa materia incandescente al calor bianco e non ci rimane altro che farci trapassare, senza opporre resistenza. I quattro chitarristi hanno iniziato questo progetto nel 2007 a New York e stanno mettendo assieme un repertorio che mischia composizione ed improvvisazione senza soluzione di continuità, aggiungendo inevitabili derive elettroniche che manipolano ulteriormente le giustapposizioni chitarristiche.

Nel prosieguo dell'ascolto non mancano altri momenti in chiaroscuro ma la nostra reazione istintiva rimane guardinga: come quella del bambino che una volta provato sul proprio dito l'effetto del fuoco non lo mette più sulla fiamma. Questo album di esordio dei Dither è anche l'occasione per testare adeguatamente le opere di nuovi giovani compositori come Erik km Clark, Laine Fefferman, Lisa R. Coons e Jascha Narveson. In particolare è piuttosto suggestiva una delle idee strutturali di Clark, denominata Hearing Deprivation. In pratica i musicisti si trovano a suonare assieme lo stesso materiale di base, senza però poter ascoltare quello che esce dal loro strumento e da quello dei colleghi perchè sono obbligati ad indossare una cuffia che li inonda di rumore bianco. Il brano finale "exPat" è per l'appunto stato registrato con questo assunto di base e rivela potenzialità davvero interessanti che meritano ulteriori approfondimenti.



Caution your speakers: do not be fooled by starting low and subheading of this album. After just over ninety seconds of music amniotic remote, subtly suggestive, unleashed the beast that lurks in this quartet of electric guitars, blessed by Elliott Sharp. The stream of lava that has befallen us an unexpected tsunami that sweeps away everything in its passage rushing to release energies and impulses, spells and meditations.

Nothing resists the passage of this matter glowing white hot, and there remains much that pierce us, without any resistance. The four guitarists have started this project in 2007 in New York and are putting together a repertoire that blends composition and improvisation seamlessly, adding electronics that manipulate inevitable drifts further juxtapositions guitar.

As a continuation of hearing there are other moments in chiaroscuro, but our gut reaction remains cautious: like the child who once tried his finger on the effect of fire does not put more on the Flame. This album's debut Dither is also an opportunity to properly test the new works of young composers like Erik km Clark, Laine Fefferman, Lisa R. Coons and Jascha Narveson. In particular, it is rather suggestive of a structural ideas of Clark called Deprivation Hearing. In practice, the musicians are playing together the same basic material, but they listen to what comes out of their instruments and that of their colleagues because they are forced to wear a cap of white noise that fills them. The final track "expat" is precisely registered with this assumption and reveals some interesting possibilities that deserve further investigation.

- Maurizio Comandini, AllAboutJazz.com

Avec quatre guitares électriques, Dither crée des superpositions d'accords entre Fred Frith et Monk héritiers du punk rock. Ils fonctionnent avec la précision d'un quatuor classique et la part d'improvisation pure de leur musique semble réduite à ce qu'elle est en rock, à cette différence près qu'ils sont les interprètes de partitions savantes. Musique discordante, dissonante, staccato, économe de ses mouvements. Tantôt énorme tantôt réduite à quelques notes elle définit un monde minéral et rigoureux où le plaisir se fraye de vigoureuses ouvertures. Plaisir des textures électriques avant tout, des changements d'ambiance musicale, plaisir de l'intrusion de la sauvagerie dans des sons policés, écrits, de border le silence de vacarme ou de presque rien. On les sent capables de reproduire cette musique chaque soir avec la même intensité — c'est à dire pas celle d'un improvisateur. Un exemple étonnant de ce que peut être une musique moderne créant sa forme instrumentale et empruntant sans hiérarchie aux musiques préexistantes (sauf au jazz). Une musique un peu pince sans rire : "et de ça vous en dites quoi ?", "goûtez-encore celui-ci, voulez-vous ?". Une musique très esthétique sans concession à la joliesse. Elle semble, à la manière surréaliste, viser un point fixe de subversion sans se laisser distraire d'aucune façon, musique au cordeau, sans courbes.


With four electric guitars, Dither creates a superimposition of chords somewhere between Fred Frith and Monk, heirs to punk rock. They work with the precision of a classical quartet and the purely improvisatory side to their music seems reduced to what it is in rock music, with the added difference that they are skilled interpreters. Clashing, dissonant, staccato, sparse music. Colossal at one moment and reduced to a few notes in another, the music defines a mineral and rigorous world where pleasure opens up to vigorous overtures. Enjoyment of textures first, changing musical moods, pleasure at the savage interruption of sounds that are written and polished, to line the silence with clamorous noise or with almost nothing at all.

One feels that they are capable of reproducing this music every night with the same intensity- that is to say, not that of an improviser. An astounding example of what modern music can be in creating its own instrumental form and borrowing freely from pre-existing music (except from jazz). Music that’s a little bit deadpan: ‘and what do you have to say about that?’; ‘you want another taste of this?’. Music that is very aesthetic without conceding to prettiness. It seems, in a surrealist way, to look to a subversive fixed point without being distracted by anything, music that is straight as an arrow, without curves.

- Noël Tachet

Dither, a New York based electric guitar quartet, is dedicated to an eclectic mix of experimental repertoire which spans composed music, improvisation, and electronic manipulation. Formed in 2007, the quartet has performed in the United States and abroad, presenting new commissions, original compositions, multimedia works, and large guitar ensemble pieces. With sounds ranging from clean pop textures to heavily processed noise, from tight rhythmic unity to cacophonous sound mass; all of Dither's music wholeheartedly embraces the beautiful, engulfing, and often gloriously loud sound of electric guitars. The quartet's members are Taylor Levine, David Linaburg, Joshua Lopes, and James Moore.

- Bruce Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

Though the electric guitar was introduced in the early 1930s, its adoption into classical music came decades later. Composers like Leonard Bernstein and Michael Tippett used the instrument chiefly for its vernacular allusions. Later Rhys Chatham, Glenn Branca and Lois V. Vierk tapped into its capacity for producing complex overtones and, yes, punishing volume. Nowadays the electric guitar has become ubiquitous, deployed to vastly different ends in a wide variety of formats. Among its foremost innovators is Scott Johnson, a New York composer and guitarist whose renown falls well short of his achievement, at least partly, no doubt, because of the snail's pace at which his work has been documented. "Americans," recently released by the Tzadik label (TZA 8074; CD), is the first newly recorded disc to be issued under Mr. Johnson's name since 1996 . "Bowery Haunt," a rock-inflected electric-guitar duet, and "Anthem Hunt," a pensive quartet with a prominent cello part, establish Mr. Johnson's flair as a performer. "The Illusion of Guidance," written for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, shows that he also writes idiomatically for other players; Derek Johnson, no relation to the composer, handles the perky, bristling guitar part.

"Americans," a three-part suite, is a striking example of the way Mr. Johnson derives music from the contours and inflections of speech, a method he devised for "John Somebody," a widely influential 1982 work for guitar and tape. "Americans all look the same to me," a recorded female voice says at the start of the piece. As an isolated clip — "same to me" — repeats twice, its falling tone and syncopated beat are duplicated first on piano, then on guitar.

Here and throughout the work Mr. Johnson's music is playful and engaging; only gradually do you realize "Americans" is also a sophisticated examination of the way immigrants negotiate cultural isolation and assimilation. Intentionally or not, the piece also shows how the electric guitar maintains its own character and connotations even when completely integrated into a mixed ensemble.

The New York quartet Dither focuses almost exclusively on sounds produced by electric guitars — clean, plucked lines, strummed chords, grungy feedback, resonating overtones, even the static buzz of amps and loose plugs — on its debut CD, "Dither," issued by the California label Henceforth (108; CD).

The most conventional playing comes in "Pantagruel," a jazzy tangle composed by Joshua Lopes, a quartet member. Lainie Fefferman's "Tongue of Thorns" reclaims a primal Minimalism from art-rock bands like the Velvet Underground or Sonic Youth; "Vectors," by Jascha Narveson, turns Dither into a live-wire gamelan.

In "Cross Sections," the longest and most fascinating work on the disc, Lisa R. Coons painstakingly dissects the instrument, rendering muscular arpeggios, livid feedback, ominous rumbles and radiant drones. Erik K M Clark's "exPAT," in which the four players are prevented from hearing one another playing, is an agreeably noisy experiment most likely better encountered live.

By orthodox standards Kyle Bobby Dunn, a Toronto musician now based in Brooklyn, barely registers as a guitarist or a composer, though he is unquestionably both. Extending the work of drone-oriented Minimalists like Eliane Radigue, William Basinski and Stars of the Lid, Mr. Dunn uses a computer to transform sounds produced with an electric guitar and various acoustic instruments into nearly motionless reveries on his puckishly titled "Young Person's Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn," newly issued by Low Point (LP033; two CDs).

No doubt intentionally, the sound sources Mr. Dunn uses are usually obscured by his processes. But occasionally you can make out string instruments, brasses and piano in his mix. What results is something like a chamber-music equivalent of Kirlian photography: dark, shadowy and indistinct at its core, surrounded by an iridescent glow. The effect is mysterious, hypnotic and deeply affecting.

- Steve Smith, The New York Times

File this under psychedelia. If you're a fan of the dirtier, more ominous textures an electric guitar can create, an entire ocean of them, the Dither guitar quartet's new album is for you. This is one of those albums that sounds like it was an awful lot of fun to make, in places more so than it is to listen to. Incorporating elements of noise-rock, dreampop, guitar jazz, classical and the avant-garde, Dither's dense, hypnotic, overtone-laden instrumentals are imaginative, clever, sometimes subtly funny, other times flat-out assaultive. The influence of Elliott Sharp (who wrote the album liner notes) is everywhere, as is that of Steve Reich. But this isn't mere layers of drones: with five different composers (including Dither's own Joshua Lopes) represented, there's a wide diversity among the tracks here. From the first few seconds, it's clear that trying to figure out which of the group's members – Lopes, Taylor Levine, David Linaburg and James Moore - is playing what is a lost cause, but there's a consistent dedication to thinking out of the box and just simply having fun.

The opening track, Lainie Fefferman's Tongue of Torns, is a pretty standard Steve Reich-ish "let's all play the same A chord for an hour and a half" except that this one has a surprise, a shock to the system about three quarters of the way through. And they do it again, and again. Pantagruel, written by Lopes, is the most overtly jazz-oriented work here, serpentine ascending progresssions intertwined through off-key, tone-warping patches that eventually crash, burn and then fade out a la "A Day in the Life". Lisa R. Coons' suite Cross-Sections is a showcase for the group's exuberant command of every guitar texture ever invented, weaving hypnotically through skronk, atmospherics, muted plucking, a long siren passage, raptly still atmospherics and good old-fashioned noise. The showstopper here (they played this at Bang on a Can last year) is Eric KM Clark's ExPAT, written for "as many guitarists as possible." It's a hearing-deprivation piece, each guitarist sonically isolated from the rest of the group, wearing headphones blasting white noise so as to throw their timing off. Yet the group is not so easily distracted! Ominous and intense, it's a pulsing, echoing choir of hell's bells, very evocative of Louis Andriessen at his most insistently abrasive. And yet, its shifts are extremely subtle, drifting apart but then coming together before another slight divergence.

Dither plays the cd release show on June 12 at the Invisible Dog Art Center, 51 Bergen St. in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn on a ridiculously inviting bill, a mini-Bang on a Can marathon of sorts with Redhooker, Kathleen Supové and Nick Didkovsky, Elliott Sharp, Matthew Welch, the Deprivation Orchestra of NY, Loud Objects, Mantra Percussion and Florent Ghys, which for a $6 cover turns out to be less than a dollar a band.


- Lucid Culture