It’s CMJ week in NYC, meaning the streets are flooded with thousands of artists vying for attention. In a festival that offers more music than anyone can possibly endure, avant-garde performance experiment ASSEMBLE puts on a sonic experience like no other.
ASSEMBLE, created by Pat Noecker (who performs as an experimental cell phone musician under the name RAFT), is a series of improvisational collaborative round-robins started in 2012. Coming out of a “need for intimacy” that was missing from the music scene’s status quo, Noecker tells CH that he wanted to, “design a situation that would illuminate process, medium and performance that would function as an intimate gathering of peoples.” The name really does say it all. ASSEMBLE is also a practice in the value of the ephemeral encounter. For each event, Noecker selects participants from a diverse rotation of musicians and performers, creating hyper-unique pieces each and every time.
ASSEMBLE is gathering for its 12th iteration on 25 October 2014, coming to the Ace Hotel lobby in NYC as part of the hotel’s unofficial CMJ showcase for its second year in a row. “I like to mix up my choice of spaces to perform in,” Noecker explains. “A hotel lobby is an unexpected spot to witness performances, but perfect for an ASSEMBLE event where people can walk around a large space and observe the musician and sound artist’s varying approaches and mediums.”
Similar to last year’s performance, ASSEMBLE XII will feature “Transmissions in A and E” where musicians improvise on their selected instruments using only those two notes, reaching harmony by the end of the piece. “You’d be surprised what happens with such a simple umbrella to improvise under,” Noecker says. As an added bonus, audience members are invited to join in by using the TRANSMISSIONS iPhone app, which was specifically created with this event in mind. In addition to RAFT, participants include Talk Normal’s Sarah Register, Ashcan Orchestra members Pat Spadine and Austin Vaughn, and performance artist Sto Len.
Last year’s Ace Hotel performance was undoubtedly a success, reportedly bringing some audience members to tears. With the artists set up throughout the entire lobby, ASSEMBLE engulfed a crowd that contained intentional attendees and unsuspecting hotel guests alike. While the common area chatter initially drowned out the music, the performance slowly crescendoed into what Noecker describes as, “a daunting, haunting, uplifting gentle giant.” By the end of the hour-long show, the lobby was completely drawn in and even participating themselves, playing with bells that were handed out by one of ASSEMBLE’s musicians.
Check out ASSEMBLE XII on Saturday, 25 October 2014, at the NYC Ace Hotel. The performance is free and open to the public.
Images courtesy of ASSEMBLE