Since its opening in the fall, contemporary art museum The Broad has quickly become one of the most popular hotspots for artists and tourists in Los Angeles, attracting visitors from all over the world. Not only is The Broad home to spectacular visual artwork, it also hosts the music series, Callings Out of Context, inspired by Arthur Russell’s song, “Calling out of Context.” On Feb. 27, the newest program in the series spotlighted experimental music composers and performers Tyondai Braxton and Daniel Wohl.
Co-hosted by REDCAT, Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, the series brings contemporary and transgressive musicians of different styles together to showcase new perspectives of diverse music genres and to break away from the rigors of classical composition. It also serves as an audio complement to the collection of pop art currently on display in the museum. The event was guest curated by composer and performer Ted Hearne, who is also an assistant professor of composition at the Thornton School of Music.
Braxton, former lead singer and guitarist of experimental rock band Battles, performed a solo show that fit perfectly for his musical style, incorporating familiar traces of classical music as well as components of electronic music for a unique auditory experience. In addition to his rock contributions, Braxton is also known for his successful album, Central Market, which features a full-length orchestral score. Musicians from Mantra Percussion and string players, arranged by violinist Lina Bahn, accompanied the performance. The sounds by the string players went well with the marimba and symbols but sounded off and out of place with the electronically produced synths and beats that played simultaneously. Though it is a commendable feat to combine genres from two different realms for an eclectic performance, at moments it felt as if an EDM artist and chamber music group accidentally booked their concerts on the same night and decided to just share the stage together last minute.
Krystal Ene, a sophomore majoring in communication, shared her thoughts on the first few songs.
“It was definitely an interesting and electrifying performance,” Ene said. “It was cool, and I’ve never seen or heard anything like it, but it’s not something that I would want to listen to for hours straight.”
During the second half, electronic-acoustic musician Wohl performed his entire sophomore album Holographic, which was recently released Jan. 16. In addition to eight musicians playing, with video imagery by acclaimed artist Daniel Schwarz, Wohl masterfully weaved layers of sound together to create a gloomily charming and enigmatic arrangement. The visuals were stunning, supplementing the sound perfectly and adding dimension to the show. After the performance, audience members gathered at the REDCAT lobby for drinks and discussion.
Those who visit The Broad or REDCAT for its extensive collections of aesthetically appealing visual art will be impressed by the museum’s ability to execute complex and engaging auditory art as well. Whether it’s hip-hop, electronic or indie-rock, Callings Out of Context programs strive to provide its audiences the experience to open their mind and ears to music produced in ways that have not been performed in mainstream media. While it can be a positive avant-garde experience for some, its unconventionality may not be for everybody. The series is set to hold more upcoming events throughout the spring and summer with dates yet to be decided.