Friday, September 30, 2016

Andy Meyerson Makes his Solo Album Debut on slashsound

Those who have been following this site recently probably know about percussionist Andy Meyerson from his participation in Do Be, a full-evening theatre piece resulting from the collaboration of The Living Earth Show with Post:Ballet. Meyerson is half of the Living Earth duo, performing with guitarist Travis Andrews. My first encounter with them was in April of 2012; and that encounter made it to my annual end-of-year list of memorable concerts. The following year Living Earth released their debut album on the innova label under the playfully ambiguous title High Art. In addition Meyerson was one of the founding directors of the Hot Air Festival, an annual festival of adventurous music produced by students of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Today slashsound released Meyerson’s debut solo album, My Side of the Story, currently available only for digital download from and other sources. Just about every Living Earth recital had two salient features. The first was that the duo was just as good at playing soft as at unleashing all the decibels of an electric guitar and a full drum kit. The second was just how diverse Meyerson could be in his percussion work. I am not sure if he learned how to create a vibrato while striking a metallic bar from one of his teachers or if he figured out how to do it himself. He certainly provided my own introduction to a sonority I would have thought was physically impossible.

My Side of the Story offers up the same diversity of both dynamic range and imaginative sonorities. The album has only five tracks, each the work of a different composer, as follows:
  1. Humble Servant, Adrian Knight
  2. Percussion Music for Robert and Andy, Samuel Carl Adams
  3. Structural Harm, Jude Traxler
  4. Sherlock Horse: Disintegration Machine, Brendon Randall-Myers
  5. May you find what you’re looking for, and remember what you have, Danny Clay
Both Knight and Adams had also contributed to the High Art album, while Clay, like both Living Earth members, is based in San Francisco. Both Traxler and Randall-Myers are New Yorkers.

Randall-Myers is probably the most aggressive contributor to the album, and his score requires electronics as well as acoustic percussion instruments. The title amounts to a “sequel” of a piece he composed for Meyerson to perform with the Friction Quartet entitled “Sherlock Horse: Horse Detective.” However, before the listener is confronted with the intense energy of that track, (s)he has been led down several fascinating paths that supplement a wide variety of approaches to percussion with electronic enhancement. Clay’s piece then serves almost as a reassuring calm after the storm (not that the storm has vanished altogether), drawing heavily upon the reverberations of a vibraphone and also requiring Meyerson to hum as part of the performance.

The title of the album clearly refers to Meyerson striking (pun probably intended) out on his own, which is fair enough given that Andrews has also been giving guitar performances in other settings (one of which took place near the end of this past August). Much of the technique that is encountered on My Side of the Story grew out of the many explorations that have taken place in his Living Earth work; but playing solo allows him to take those explorations into more remote regions. It would be fair to say that Meyerson is a performer that is not afraid to experiment and knows full well that experiments do not always turn out as anticipated. However, having seen him in performance, I know that he is highly skilled in his in-the-moment approach to playing; and if, from time to time, the moment takes him into some precarious positions, he never seems to lose his balance. As a result, one can appreciate the sense of immediacy in My Side of the Story as much as one can enjoy the breadth of its diversity.

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