Better Know A Weisslich – 6 Benefits of Pamplemousses

As part of WEISSLICH Vol. 9 on 13th and 14th January 2017, the New York-based supergroup of experimental performer-composers, Ensemble Pamplemousse, will be presenting a new hour-long set of music in Manchester and London, composed and performed by their members, marking the first time they have ever played in the UK.

Formed in 2003, the pamplemousses are David Broome (keys), Natacha Diels (flutes), Andrew Greenwald (drums), Bryan Jacobs (electronics), Jessie Marino (cello), and newest member Weston Olencki (trombone). In the ensemble’s characteristically hyperbolic language, they self-define their fruit-rooted namesake (pamplemousse is the French word for grapefruit) accordingly:

(pãpl?’musjee z) (singular: pamplemousse) 1. n. an oblate spheroid 2. v. the act of dissecting and conceiving acoustic blueprints 3. adj. juicy and sweet and tender and tart 4. v. aggregating sonic possibilities into shapes of resonance, clusters of glitch, skitters of hyperaction, and masses of absurdity 5. q. Whodipousse?

Much like the grapefruit, there are several benefits, as well as side effects, of experiencing Ensemble Pamplemousse live.

1) Energy Boosting / David
Listening to David’s previously composed work is like getting a shot of Vitamin C (and a little something extra) straight into the bloodstream. It’s instantaneously exhilarating, and won’t let go. For someone who has a hyperactive mind, this music is moving along at just the right pace! For the concerts in January, David has facilitated the creation of a piece titled 🗿🎀🐛🗯 (which, for the emoji illiterate, David translates to: “Moai Bow-Tie Caterpillar Shout”). David writes that this piece is “a collaboratively written piece by Ensemble Pamplemousse. David started the process by cutting and pasting material for flute, piano and electronics from previously composed pieces by Bryan and Natacha. The piece was then sent to Andrew, who composed a cello part and then sent all the material to Weston, who wrote himself a trombone part to fit into the mix.”

Previously Experienced Side Effects:

2) Dream Enhancing / Natacha
Natacha has been writing a series of neurotic and fairytale-like “nightmares,” many of which Ensemble Pamplemousse has been experiencing since 2012, that, in her own words, “explode the minute gestures executed by performers through choreography, repetition, and counterpoint.” For January’s concerts, Natacha will be presenting her fourth nightmare in which the identity of their drummer Andrew is fractured and splintered into multiple personalities that seep into an infected set of auxiliary performers (Jessie and David) who are subjected into being “bizarre click tracks” and who are all ultimately accompanied by disco lights. Talk about vivid!

Previously Experienced Side Effects:

3) Pulpy Fulfillment / Andrew
For the last five years Andrew has been reworking a series of compositions under the title A Thing is a Hole in a Thing it is Not that are derived from meticulously notated transcriptions of complex improvisations. Each reworking is a manifestly different execution of the same idea. More fundamentally though, as a sonic experience, these pieces are extra pulpy. At every turn, there’s the possibility getting an earful of semi-thawed icey, condensed, and gritty goodness that slushes its way to and through the cochlea as a cluster of vibrations. Set in counterpoise with flickering sustained tones that allow time to process the condensed juices, the slush of compressed information melts into a fulfilling musical liquid. And, gulp!, a hole is created, into which another icey pact of pulp comes to fill. Our audience will experience the fourth reworking of this series in January.

Previously Experienced Side Effects:

4) Unparalleled Precision / Bryan
Many of Bryan’s pieces of music exhibit a laser-cut rhythmic precision, with crisp breaks and interlocking between members of the ensemble that often unfold at a dizzyingly manic pace. This is music that the computers responsible for high-frequency algorithmic micro-trading on the stock market listen to. Yes, experience Ensemble Pamplemousse and you too can make multiple, highly volatile trading decisions and transactions in the blink of an eye, or is it ear … who’s keeping track (no one, that’s who)! Bryan’s January surprise includes a new version of Organic Synthesis Vol. 1 for two groups of mechanically-controlled slide whistles that face-off with cello, percussion, and trombone.

Previously Experienced Side Effects:

5) Organised Absurdity / Jessie
Jessie’s work in general sets the absurdity of everyday activities into tightly controlled and organised musical structures, with examples ranging from an early morning radio broadcast of nonchalant DJ’s eventually encompassed in an all engulfing brightness of noise, the mechanical processing of foodstuffs, all the way to a rhythmically anticipated yet totally unexpected appearance of Boyz II Men’s I’ll Make Love to You. This is work that casts a musical sensibility across those Kafka-esq mundanities of life such as: getting the right tone for that email to a colleague who doesn’t quite understand your fabulous sense of humor, those endless handshakes in that unfortunately not hypothetical business job you never wanted, or those hundreds of wrench turns during an emergency plumbing visit. We haven’t the slightest idea what Jessie will be doing in January, and we like it that way!

Previously Experienced Side Effects:

6) A Sense of Familial Belonging
Before writing this listicle, I wrote Jessie to ask some questions about the ensemble and how everybody gets along with each other. I wanted to know how they work with each other, what the day to day grind is like. During our correspondence, Jessie communicated to me that, fundamentally, Ensemble Pamplemousse is built on friendship. With her permission, I am sharing what she wrote about their ensemble because I think that it exemplifies the conditions necessary for such individual and idiosyncratic musical art to be created, and is part of what makes me so happy to be able to share their work with audiences in Manchester and London through the WEISSLICH platform:

“We are an ensemble that has always worked together first as friends. We never adopted the ensemble model that substitutes other players in when someone can’t make the gig. If one person can’t make the gig, we don’t do the gig (or we play pieces written for a specific subset of the group).

“Friendship is, for all of us, crucial and undeniable – we book shows, go on tours, eat breakfast and keep trying to find ways of being together within a creative and lively atmosphere. We are a support system, a family, a band, and a critical audience. It’s the only way we want to make music, it’s the only way we know how.”

Pamplemousse have made some incredible trailers throughout their 13 year run of music making, and their newest one in particular is something truly spectacular to behold. However, I think that the following trailer for a 2015 concert at Jack Theater in New York is a perfect illustration of the friendship that ties together these diverse personalities and gives prospective audience members a taste for how this ensemble operates:

Come reap the benefits of a fresh slice of Ensemble Pamplemousse.

– Michael Baldwin

Ensemble Pamplemousse will be playing WEISSLICH Vol. 9 along with Antonia Barnett-McIntosh & Emma Bennett, and Robert Blatt on 13 January 2017 at The Wonder Inn, 29 Shudehill, Manchester and 14 January 2017 at STYX, 5 Ashley Road, Tottenham, London. Both events open doors at 7:30pm and performances start at 8:00pm.

Advance tickets are now on sale:
13.01.2017 – MANCHESTER
14.01.2017 – LONDON