My nomination for the most innovative under-the-radar music programming in the Twin Cities is for the folks at the Southern Theater.
Having already established themselves as a second home for such forward-thinking, idiosyncratic composers as Nico Muhly and Sufjan Stevens, the Southern is now rolling out the welcome mat for Clogs, a quartet of classically trained musicians that include guitarist Bryce Dessner, best known for his membership in the indie-pop quintet, The National.
Not coincidentally, The National’s last album, “The Boxer,” featured an extended guest appearance by Sufjan Stevens and string arrangements by Dessner’s Clogs cohort Padma Newsome, the violinist and primary composer for the Brooklyn-based quartet.
Calling their music “electroacoustic” and citing influences such as John Cage, Oliver Messaien, and Phillip Glass, Clogs obviously operate in the purposefully ambiguous realm of experimental modern classical music. That doesn’t prevent the occasional bluegrass lick from dampening the mix, which often includes pristine, folk-style guitar, a lowing bassoon and prancing strings.
Despite song titles such as “I’m Very Sad,” what I hear mostly is seductive and ethereal, like being half-asleep and hearing your lover blow you a kiss as he/she walks out of the bedroom.
Clogs’ two-night stay at the Southern will feature different performances. Friday features older works from their repertoire, along with songs from their various side projects and one-off collaborations. It will also include guest stars Shara Worden and Lorne Watson. Worden, the vocalist of My Brightest Diamond, further ups the ethereality quotient, albeit with bouts of operatic vigor. Watson and fellow percussionist Thomas Kozumplik of Clogs (and what better name for a percussionist than Kozumplik!) form the core of Loop 2,4,3, yet another compelling, experimental outfit.
On Saturday, Clogs will showcase material from its upcoming album, “The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton,” a Newsome-composed song cycle which features the raven-haired Worden, as well as selections from the recently-released EP, “Veil Waltz,” described as a “prologue” to “Creatures in the Garden,” that includes loops, instrumental grooves, contrapuntal play, cinematic scenes, and hints of songs.” You know, the usual ephemera.
Video of Clogs’ performances unfortunately are in short supply (the group’s next scheduled shows after the Southern are March 24 in Brooklyn and March 27 at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee), but here is an atmospheric video for the quartet’s song, “Lantern.”
Here is their Myspace page.
Here is the page for Worden’s My Brightest Diamond.
Clogs with guests Shara Worden and Lorne Watson at the Southern Theater, at 8 p.m. today and Saturday; tickets $22.