Legend of New York’s ’80s downtown scene, watch Rhys Chatham perform live at Whitechapel Gallery

Legend of New York's '80s downtown scene, watch Rhys Chatham perform live at Whitechapel Gallery

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Experimental musician and no wave pioneer Rhys Chatham performs at Music For Museums.

A lynchpin of America’s experimental avant garde, Rhys Chatham took to the stage at Whitechapel Gallery last month for a unique multi-instrumental performance in front of an intimate audience.

A graduate of La Monte Young’s Dream Syndicate and a pupil of the great electronics pioneer Morton Subotnick, Chatham played an integral part of New York’s downtown scene in the late ’70s and ’80s alongside Thurston Moore, Glenn Branca and others. No stranger to multi-disciplinary performance or performing in galleries, Chatham cut his teeth as the first musical director of art and music space The Kitchen.

Here, Chatham deconstructs the process of looping across three channels, crafting a piece of virtuoso minimalism with flute, guitar and trumpet that builds like a continuous melody. As Chatham says, they each speak to a different part of his experience as a musician:

“If you’re doing a solo concert for almost an hour, if you just played one instrument it gets kind of tiring on the ears. So it’s nice to have this trumpet with its jazz roots and implications and then the guitar with its minimalist rock roots and then the flute, who knows what that is. But it’s nice for the ear to have all these different timbres in the context of this solo.”

This recording of Chatham’s performance is the latest in a series of films from the gallery, which began with a rare A/V show from electronic artists Ryoji Ikeda and Carsten Nicolai as cyclo, which you can watch here.

Produced by Infinite Ear for the Vinyl Factory

Camera:
Pedro Skelly
Tom Deacon

Editing & Sound:
Pedro Skelly