With its current connotations, the term "festival" seems like a bit of a misnomer for Ecstatic Music. There are no midriffs; there is no molly; there is no dubstep DJ-du-jour. Its organizers provide an altogether different kind of ecstasy, doled out over three months of performances, most of them in decidedly academic settings rather than trampled, muddy fairgrounds. The idea, they say, is to "give true meaning to the notion of 'Ecstatic Music' as joyful and adventurous collaborations giving some of today's most compelling musicians the opportunity to work together in exciting new combinations," and, for five years now, they've been doing just that. From Deerhoof to DJ /rupture, from tUnE-yArDs to Saul Williams, EMF's curators have a way of identifying indie outliers and pairing them with contemporary classical avant-garde ensembles and composers that have included Rhys Chatham, William Basinski, and SO Percussion, among many, many more. For show-goers in search of the ever-elusive, one-of-a-kind live music experience, Ecstatic Music is a kind of heaven.
|Lindsey Rhoades for the Village Voice|
|Julia Holter and Spektral Quartet|
There are certainly artists whose off-kilter ethos works well with these unusual, inspired pairings. For Julia Holter, the Los Angeles–based art-pop chanteuse with three critically acclaimed solo records under her belt, collaboration comes easy: She made her EMF debut in 2013 with Laurel Halo and Daniel Wohl's TRANSIT ensemble. Returning to the Kaufman Music Center's Merkin Concert Hall last night, Holter was backed this time by Chicago's Spektral Quartet, an exuberant chamber ensemble with a penchant for quirky arrangements. Before Holter emerged from backstage, they performed a lively set that brilliantly bridged the gap between Mos Def and Stravinsky.More »