Unsung Stories from Lilly's Days As a Solar Astron
Jonathan Badger is a composer based in Baltimore, Maryland. After studying composition at Duke University and receiving numerous commissions for theatre and dance music (Emerson College [Boston], Several Dancers Corp [Atlanta/Dallas] among others), he released Metasonic (2006, High Horse), capturing rhythmic ambient music, improvised on guitar in one take. Since then he's traveled around performing his riveting style of "guitaristic" electronic music. In 2008 Jonathan turned to a more extensive use of computer in his live act, processing guitar through an assortment of customized software and hardware - folding and weaving signals together into complex patterns of interlaced rhythm, harmony and texture. The resulting aesthetic is an ambient, avant-rock hybrid with DIY sensibilities, and serves as the basis for his second full-length, Unsung Stories from Lilly's Days as a Solar Astronaut. Essentially Metasonic's inversion, Lilly's Days is the result of composition for the sake performance. After touring for Metasonic in 2007 using the same basic hardware he had used for that record, Jonathan re-engineered his performance rig. He brought in violinists, cellists, pianists, and singers to record every note on their instrument, inviting them to play each note in multiple ways. From these recordings he culled a massive collection of samples, which his laptop-hosted software selects and triggers based not only on what notes Jonathan plays on his guitar, but also on how he plays them. The system also incorporates samples of Mellotron tape banks, mapping each note on the guitar to individual Mellotron tape loops. This interplay of musician and software makes for a dynamic and expressive performance. In addition to the guitar-triggered samples, the software system enables Jonathan to record and arrange chunks of music on the fly, building up complex and shapely structures in real time. This set of processes has become his way of bringing true compositional structure to what has traditionally been a more free-form style of art. Still, with plenty of room for improvisation -- and with the inherent indeterminacy in this process -- no two performances are exactly alike. Once the capabilities of this re-envisioned rig and software environment became clear, entirely new performance strategies became possible, and Jonathan found himself composing music that exploited those possibilities. This music began to assemble itself into a coherent set of compositions during a series of performances in the spring of 2009. After a short tour in August, Jonathan took the whole kit into the studio and produced the new record. Despite being essentially guitar music, Lilly's Days is not a typical "loopy" ambient guitar album. While the tracks faithfully reflect the energy of Jonathan's live shows, this CD is a true studio effort; the tracks are polished and fully formed compositions, mixing the delicacy of chamber music, hypnotic pulses, and the sonic adventurousness of electronic music. Conceptualizing the mechanisms and underlying intricacies that gave rise to this music definitely makes for a contemplative listen. Unsung Stories from Lilly's Days as a Solar Astronaut is out March 23rd, 2010 on MT6 Records. Praise for Jonathan Badger: "Badger's work is too pleasing [and] too polished to be ignored." -e/i Magazine "wonderful and unique." -The Sound of Silence.