Submitted by David Menconi — firstname.lastname@example.org
Its been seven years since Wilco drummer Glenn Kotches last solo album, 2006s percussive sound-scape, Mobile. But hes hardly been idle. There have been two albums by Wilco and another by On Fillmore, Kotches sideband, plus all his composing pieces for Kronos Quartet, Bang on a Can Orchestra and recent Grammy winners Eighth Blackbird and Yo-Yo Ma, among others. Two more solo records are coming, too. Its a lot to keep track of.
Ive also, um, had two kids, Kotche says with a laugh, calling from his hometown of Chicago. But right now, Im just trying to stay in the present as much as I can. Everything goes in waves, and its very periodic with Wilco. The grass is always greener and Ill come back from a 14-month Wilco tour with a notebook full of ideas Ive not been able to get to, and yeah, Ill just want to do that. But right now, theres only been one Wilco show the last five months and I start thinking, Itd be nice to play with those guys more. I miss em.
Wilco will be starting up again later this spring when recording sessions commence for another new album. Meantime, Kotche has another intriguing solo project in which hell do double duty Friday night in Durham. Hell play a collaborative set with local folk-rock trio Megafaun and also take on Ilimaq, an experimental solo percussion piece written by composer John Luther Adams.
Kotche initially discovered Adams, a longtime Alaska resident who takes inspiration from the Alaskan wilderness, through recordings. They met when Wilco played in Fairbanks some years ago and hit it off enough to collaborate on a piece that expands the notion of the drum set, as Kotche puts it.
What I do comes from being a drummer, the rhythm and physicality and movement of it, Kotche says. I know John had some background in that, and I wanted to show other sides of the drum set. Usually drummers are just keeping the beat in rock bands. But its a wide-open instrument capable of all sorts of things, even though not many composers write that way.
Ilimaq has multiple stations with a large kit and other unconventional percussion setups. Kotche moves between them throughout the pieces 48-minute length, and its rendered in quadraphonic surround sound. But even though youll hear multiples of Kotche playing, dont come expecting just a massive drum-solo workout.
Its an interesting sonic experience, like a live-sound installation, Kotche says. Sit back and absorb it all, and youll be blown away. Conceptually, its very sound. Its not me showing off and doing a bunch of licks and stick twirls. The challenging part is the physical endurance required. The cool thing about percussion is its basically everything thats not already another instrument firecrackers, starter pistol, the wind blowing, cannon fire in the 1812 Overture. Its always been that way; everything else was just what the drummer did going back to sound effects in vaudeville shows. So thats the original conception of drumming, which just got away from a lot of players. I guess you could say Im more old-school. Really old-school.