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Gordon, Lang, Wolfe: The Carbon Copy Building

Album Summary

>Michael Gordon/ David Lan : The Carbon Copy Building, comic strip opera
Performers Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

The Carbon Copy Building is a dynamic and visually stunning trip through the gritty underside of urban life. Words and drawings by celebrated New Yorker comic-strip artist and recent MacArthur Grant recipient Ben Katchor are brought vividly to life by music from Bang on a Can Co-Artistic Directors Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe. Rock band meets opera, The Carbon Copy Building is a full-length work for four singers and winds, keys, guitar, and drums; and is the first major collaborative work from the Bang on a Can Co-Artistic Directors. The revolutionary show won the Village Voice 2000 OBIE Award for Best New American Work, and embraces the dark, witty humor of Katchor, known for his cult classic underground comic, Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer. After many years, the work is finally out on CD, accompanied by Katchor's beautiful illustrated libretto; in a limited edition hard-bound Book and CD case. "Accurately billed as a "comic-strip opera," "The Carbon Copy Building" brings together the angular, abrasive, rock-tinged postminimalism of New York's Bang on a Can Festival with the dreamy urban landscapes of writer and illustrator Ben Katchor. Fans of Katchor's drawings -- with their meticulous imaginary histories of seedy midtown office buildings and the Willy Lomans who work there -- will recognize the recurrent themes in this story of two identical buildings that go on to lead divergent lives. Here again, in the beautifully crafted hardback booklet that accompanies the CD, are the moody paeans to Art Deco designs, to the Automat and to such invented civic splendors as the Heel Tap Memorial Library. And to bring it life, there is music by Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe, the founding artistic directors of Bang on a Can. It's by turns clangorous, inviting and (in the "Funeral March of the Unfinished Desserts") rapturous. Some of that variety is built into the fact that the three composers, rather than collaborating, have each contributed individual numbers, and although there aren't any composer credits given, their individual styles are so different that it's easy to tell them apart. The performance is gripping, with a four-member electrified ensemble accompanying some of new music's vocal luminaries, including Theo Bleckmann and Toby Twining." -The San Francisco Gate


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Works Details

>Michael Gordon/ David Lan : The Carbon Copy Building, comic strip opera
  • Performers: John Benthal (Electric Guitar); Theo Bleckmann (Voice); Tony Boute (Voice); David Cossin (Percussion); Katie Geissinger (Mezzo Soprano); Martin Goldray (Keyboards); Bohdan Hilash (Clarinet); Toby Twining (Voice)
  • Conductor: Martin Goldray
  • Notes: Avatar Studios, New York, NY (08/16/2000-08/18/2000)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 42 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary