Skaneateles I admire people who try to talk to a cactus on a tin-can phone. Find the group So Percussion’s portrait in the Skaneateles Festival brochure and just try to tell me they’re not getting something out of that conversation.
Maybe if you haven’t yet looked at the trailblazing group’s website (sopercussion.com) you don’t know that there’s such a thing as “site-specific Music for Trains in Southern Vermont.” Or that one could perform a “fully-staged sonic meditation on urban soundscapes.” Or that you could call up a guy who founded something called Bang on a Can to commission a masterpiece.
Those of you who may find these things mildly disconcerting: before you hang up the tin-can phone, consider for a moment that Billboard Magazine calls So Percussion “astonishing and entrancing,” and the New York Times hails them as “brilliant.” Recall, while you’re at it, that when you were a kid, the strangeness of things, the novelty of every tree and rock, made life unbearably fascinating.
Meanwhile, those of you who are familiar with the music of John Cage and Steve Reich may take a moment to feel clever. [Silence.] Yes, a group called an “experimental powerhouse” by the Village Voice would live and breathe music from such great innovators.
When a group works to commune with a cactus or aligns itself with famous minds, does it follow that what the group does must be esoteric and obtuse?
Absolutely not. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that “esoteric” means “communicated or intelligible only to the initiated,” and I would argue that there is absolutely no one who lacks rhythm, and therefore no one uninitiated. You may not be anyone’s first choice for a salsa partner, but you have a heartbeat, you breathe, you walk, you blink, you become entranced by the windshield wipers at inopportune moments.