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Things That Go Buzz In The Night: Overnight Drones @ Whitehaus, tonight

Posted by Michael Brodeur  November 4, 2011 12:00 AM

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Video still of Peace, Loving and the Metal & Glass Ensemble at First Church in Jamaica Plain. Video: whitehausfamily.


Tonight, the artists of the Whitehaus collective in Jamaica Plain will host a sleepover, where attendees will be treated to an intimate all-night drone concert. Pillows, blankets, couches, and other cushions will be available, and some refreshments, including hot beverages and snacks, will be served, but guests are encouraged to bring whatever supplies will keep them coziest.

This eight-hour concert was planned by Matt Samolis, leader of the Boston-based group, Metal & Glass Ensemble. Tonight’s show only features the metal aspect of the group’s sound-scape (just to be clear, we’re not talking heavy metal -- quite the opposite). Members of the Metal & Glass ensemble will play bowed cymbals and tuned steel rods all night, and Whitehaus Family Records’ group Peace, Loving will chime in at moonset (1:20 a.m.) Additionally, guest soloists playing strings, brass, and reeds will join periodically throughout the night and play along with the slow drone. Samolis chatted with us about the event.

Q. Can you describe the sound of the music and the instrumentation?
A. What we’ll be presenting on Friday night is the sound of bowed cymbals and tuned steel rods that are all bolted to an apparatus that helps amplify amplify the sound and make it resonant, by using a stainless steel sheet. It’s taking rigid pieces of metal and getting them to vibrate using a bow. That sound is fed into a resonating sheet that amplifies and puts a lot of plate reverb on it. It’s all done acoustically. There’s a running joke in the band that the sound is not unlike the spirit of a chanting monk trapped inside a WWII war plane. It’s sort of like the humming of a motor combined with a vocal quality. It’s somewhat mechanistic and organic simultaneously.

Q. Why did you decide to play an all night concert?
A. Essentially the foundation [of The Metal & Glass Ensemble] is to explore sound in an extended type of presentation. And the typical component is that we play music so slowly that the progression of melody is often imperceptible. The group is always challenging themselves and each other to see if we can slow it down even more. A logical extension of that is to see how long of a concert we can present.


Peace, Loving and the Metal & Glass Ensemble at First Church in Jamaica Plain, 2002. Video: whitehausfamily.

Q. Have you done an overnight concert before?
A. These overnight concerts aren’t anything new. I haven’t done one for 10 years, but I had done them with some regularity when I could hold them in my own home back in the ‘90s.

Q. Why is Whitehaus the right place for this type of event?
A. We’re doing this concert there [because] it’s an overnight concert. People can come and go. It will be very comfortable for the audience. People can make use of the kitchen and have refreshments. There will be a side-room for musicians to collect their thoughts before they perform.

Q. You wrote that “attendees can anticipate any number of benefits.” What does that mean?
A. What I’m referring to there is what is unique to the Whitehaus. I’m not sure if i can articulate that very well, but it is a very special community there. The Whitehaus Family Records and the Whitehaus in particular is truly a type of epicenter for a lot of creativity in this town. I feel like I've benefited from being associated with them. I think part of it is that they value what I do, that’s one of the beautiful things about it.

Q. What are your expectations for the event and the vibe you’re hoping to create?
A. People might meditate, they might daydream, they might just outright sleep through it, or dance. In the kitchen people will have an opportunity to get some mulled cider or some ginger tea or whatever else they’ll have there. I think there will be a tray of samosas. We’re not totally sure what to expect. I haven't done one of these for 10 years. There are going to be a lot of people there that I don’t know. It’s pretty exciting.

The Overnight Drone Concert at Whitehaus. 11:04 p.m. (reflecting the date) through 7:21 a.m. (sunrise). Contact whitehausfamilyrecord@gmail.com for details.

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Sarah Rodman is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.

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