Daniel Stephen Johnson was born in the desert and learned to play the violin. After studying viola and English at the University of Southern California, he wrote fiction at Columbia University. Then he moved to Connecticut, where he worked at a record shop and wrote about music, literature and comedy for the New Haven Advocate and the Believer. Now he lives in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and works as a sheet music salesman in Queens.
Florent Ghys and Bonjour Rock Out with High-Energy Debut
Monday, October 17, 2016
Composer and contrabassist Florent Ghys may hail from France, but he mastered the American style well before transplanting from Bordeaux to Brooklyn. In a city crowded with composers eager to synthesize the pulsing, imitative, syncopated rhythmic languages of composers like David Lang and Steve Reich, Ghys out–New Yorked the New Yorkers, making a name for himself with ingenious collages combining found video, layers of solo bass, and a razor wit.
For Bonjour, his latest full-length on the Bang on a Can collective's Cantaloupe Music label, Ghys bids adieu to many of the high-concept trappings of his previous releases. Gone from Bonjour are the melodies of sampled speech; gone are the DIY solo overdubs. The new concept is Ghys's wry take on the sound of a rock band, courtesy of the all-star Bonjour ensemble.
Literally "all-star": Ashley Bathgate of the Bang on a Can All-Stars is on cello, James Moore of Dither on guitar, Eleonore Oppenheim of Victoire on bass, Owen Weaver of Mantra Percussion on drums, and of course, the performer–composer at the heart of the project, all recorded live in studio, without a click track.
Bonjour the band is a muscular, but flexible ensemble – capable of rocking out as required, but more often functioning as a sort of prism, delicately diffracting the sound of Ghys's bass across a spectrum of low-frequency sound. His writing uses imitative processes to answer and transform a musical idea instantly, and with the sensitivity of a fine string quartet, every member of the Bonjour band matches each other's sound to create a funhouse of distorting mirrors, echoes, and shadows.
Each track is named after a particular moment – "Sunday," "Monday Morning," "Friday 3PM" – and no wonder. Freed from overdubs, videos, and clicks, Bonjour is a Florent Ghys album that lives in the here and now.
Florent Ghys: Bonjour
Cantaloupe Music | Released August 26
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