Nonsemble’s top ten genre-melding tracks

NONSEMBLE are a unique product of Brisbane. They’ve played alongside Sigur Ros, Beck. They’ve held TED talks and well, they are an ‘indie chamber ensemble’. Nonsemble are a collective of classically trained musicians who blend together post-rock, indie and electronic influences into rich and captivating performances. They’ve been putting out EPs since 2012 that have been met with critical acclaim, touring Australia wide performing at Brisbane’s GOMA and Tasmania’s MONA, and also covering legendary musicians like Radiohead, Bjork and Boards of Canada. Last year saw the group put out their ‘poppiest’ EP to date, and featured collaborations with Brisbane-based indie rock vocalists to create a complex but accessible collection of songs that defy the average ears’ ability to qualify genre. Nonsemble‘s next performance will be at Dots + Loops Compulsion at Lightspace in Brisbane on May 19th.

Kieran Welch is a member of Nonsemble and the curator of Dots+Loops, a Brisbane-based concert series that describes itself as operating somewhere in between a club gig and a classical concert.  Before the upcoming gig, he collected together his ten favourite genre-melding tracks.

  1. Radiohead — Burn The Witch

“Radiohead have been blurring and breaking genre boundaries for years, but their latest album “A Moon Shaped Pool” sees them explore classical instruments more than ever before. Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood has had orchestral works performed by groups like the London Symphony Orchestra, and written soundtracks for films like “There Will Be Blood”, and this really comes through in the lush string parts throughout “A Moon Shaped Pool”. When combined with Thom Yorke’s brilliantly evocative lyrics, for me the result is some of the most beautiful, and emotionally arresting music the band has made to date. The driving rhythmic strings, twitchy percussion and stark lyrics of Burn The Witch sum this up perfectly—I’ve been playing on repeat it for months.”

  1. Newspeak — Sweet Light Crude

“New York’s Newspeak were one of the first big groups on the “indie-classical” scene—a bunch of composers and performers looking break the molds of their Conservatorium training, and combine their classical craft with the rock, electronic and jazz music they also played and loved. Summing up this ethos perfectly, Sweet Light Crude sees composer and drummer David T. Little create a spine-tingling clash of metal, post-minimalism and electronica, and we can’t wait to present the first Australian performance of this killer tune at Dots+Loops Compulsion on May 19!”

  1. Nonsemble — Unkind

“Like Newspeak, local Brisbane indie-chamber group Nonsemble combine math-rock, electronica and contemporary classical backgrounds, and though their output ranges from intricate instrumental long players to effervescent pop gems, everything retains a unique, immediately identifiable sound. From the pop end of their release spectrum, Unkind sees the group team up with local songstress Amela, weaving her soaring vocals with lush strings and deliciously multi-layered rhythms. We’re lucky enough to have Nonsemble as another act on the lineup for Dots+Loops Compulsion on May 19, and we can’t wait to hear them jam out to the super fun Above Ground, by Brisbane composer and musician Robert Davidson!”

  1. Björk — Stonemilker

“For me, Björk’s seminal 1997 album “Homogenic” was perhaps the first really effective combination of underground electronic music and classical instruments. While it may not be quite as consistent, the best parts of her latest album “Vulnicura” take what she did with “Homogenic” to a whole new level. A musical reaction to the breakdown of her long-term relationship with filmmaker Matthew Barney, “Vulnicura” sees Björk combine some of the most stunning string orchestra parts she’s ever penned with chaotic electronics and heart-rending lyrics.”

  1. Owen Pallett — I Am Not Afraid

“You may not have heard the name before, but you’ve almost definitely heard Owen Pallett’s work—aside from being an integral member of Arcade Fire, he’s also penned and played violin parts for acts as diverse as Caribou, R.E.M. and Taylor Swift. His solo work seamlessly blends electronica and strings with beautifully dark and emotional lyrics, and though it’s not always the happiest of listening (like Thom Yorke, this poor guy really needs a hug), it’s absolutely gripping music.”

  1. Olafur Arnalds — Brim

“From starting his career as the drummer in an Icelandic hardcore band called Fighting Shit, Olafur Arnalds went on to craft some of the most beautiful neo-classical music of the last few years. But his 2013 studio album “For Now I Am Winter”, Olafur started to combine this neo-classicism with a bit more of the chaos and darkness you’d expect from someone who grew up with prog-metal (and in a place that experiences almost no sunlight for weeks at a time). Tying together anxiously driving orchestral parts with expansive beats and sweeping strings, Brim sums the LP up perfectly, and is one of my all-time favourite tracks.” 

  1. Missy Mazzoli — A Thousand Tongues

“Brooklyn native Missy Mazzoli has won dozens of composition awards all across the world, and penned one of the most exciting chamber operas of the last few years. But like everyone else on this list, she’s not a big one for traditional genre boundaries, and is just as just as comfortable playing in rock clubs with her band Victoire as she is performing in Carnegie Hall. Written for cellist and singer Jody Redhage, “A Thousand Tongues” is my favourite example of her unique musical style—looped pianos provide a dreamlike base for Jody’s gripping cello solo to soar over, finished off with a purely sung verse drawing from a poem by Stephen Crane.”

  1. Nonsemble — 3c

“As the epilogue to a 30-minute instrumental work called “Go Seigen vs. Fujisawa Kuranosuke”, on paper 3c might seem worlds away from the concise art-pop of Unkind. But have a listen, and you’ll hopefully hear, as I do, the distinctive voice that brings all of Nonsemble’s music together. 3c really highlights composer Chris Perren’s talent for packing meticulously crafted music with a real emotional punch.” 

  1. Philip Glass — Opening from Glassworks

“As a founding figure in musical Minimalism, Philip Glass did more to reconnect with other genres of music than most classical musicians had for a very long time. Influenced by rock, jazz and world musics, the Minimalists formed “bands”, and performed amplified in rock clubs across downtown New York. And though this may not seem particularly revolutionary by now, it most definitely was for a classical composer in the 60s and 70s. A work “specially mixed for your personal cassette player”, Philip Glass pictured “Glassworks” as being the record that finally married the worlds of pop and classical together. Whether it fully achieved that aim is debatable, but there’s no doubt it was still a hugely successful and influential release, and thirty years on it remains his best selling album to date. One of my very earliest memories is hearing my Dad play the original Glassworks cassette at home, and I think it’s safe to say it shaped my entire taste in music.”

  1. Above Ground Pt 1

“Brisbane’s Robert Davidson is perhaps best known for penning the viral choral hit Not Now, Not Ever, which sampled Julia Gillard’s famous misogyny speech. But he’s an incredibly diverse musician, and knows more about all kinds of music than anyone else I’ve ever met—he’s a classically trained bassist, who studied Indian music in Kerala, and can still tell you all about Sufjan Stevens’ latest album. We’re super excited to have Nonsemble + friends performing his super cool piece “Above Ground” at Dots+Loops Compulsion. And if you think this first part is cool, just wait until you hear the last movement—it’s a certified banger. But you’ll have to be at the Dots+Loops show for that…”

The group’s first major show of 2017, Dots+Loops Compulsion, is going down this May 19, melting contemporary classical, rock and electronica into a completely new and compelling experience. Headlined by a genre-blurring set of music from New York band Newspeak, the show also presents Melbourne’s electrifying Solstice Trio for their first QLD performance, alongside local indie-chamber heroes Nonsemble + friends, and a special Software of Seagulls DJ set to end the night. Held in the relaxed, beautifully converted warehouse space at Lightspace Brisbane, there’s a bar open all night, and a bunch of comfy spaces to chill out with friends and enjoy the bangin’ tunes.

Tickets available here 

Check out the event page here

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