Jack Callahan (die Reihe) and Jeff Witscher’s (Rene Hell) recent collaboration What Happens on Earth Stays on Earth is a multichannel work examining the banality of the human drama in the 21st century. Witscher and Callahan, both known for their far-ranging work under various monikers, have recently put forward the descriptors “Music Art” and “Sound Music” as formal headings to re-assert the simplicity of their own respective practices. The evening will also feature solo works by Callahan and Witscher. A new work by Witscher, entitled Pathological Sound Music, is made from radio, piano and voice memos taken after an altercation with a train conductor assembled in the style of radio art. Callahan’s solo performance draws from his project Housed, a catalog of over 1000 chords from classic House tracks sampled and archived by Callahan, which is currently being turned into an web-based archive.

This event is part of Digital Alchemy, a series of performances and discussions exploring the intertwined intellectual and ideological histories of art and technology. For admission to the full series, become a member and pick up the Digital Alchemy All-Access Pass.

What Happens on Earth Stays on Earth

Jeff Witscher & Jack Callahan’s What Happens on Earth Stays on Earth is a new multi-channel work examining the banality of the human drama in the 21st century. Taking the familiar Q&A format as its basic form, the piece functions as an expanded generative interview between multiple speakers — both human and technological — as an unhinged, overlapping narrative of contemporary life. Begun in 2017 as an idea, WHOESOE consists of a series of prompts given to a selection of interviewees (Madalyn Merkey, Asha Sheshadri, Colleen O’Connor, Nihal Ramchandani, Daren Ho, and Josh Haringa) whose responses are recorded. The piece is organized from this material with each staging being one of many possible realizations. An experiment in the modularity of common drama, the piece shares sensibilities with A.A. meetings, group therapy sessions, formalist and Fluxus generative poetry experiments, or Robert Ashley’s television operas — all operations that express tension between inner monologue and group communication. Although both Witscher and Callahan are known for their discrete compositions and far-ranging work under various monikers, recently they have been forwarding primary descriptors such as “Music Art” and “Sound Music” as formal headings that re-assert the simplicity of their own respective practices. What Happens on Earth Stays on Earth is an intersection of these individual approaches — a savage showcase of both narrative and music’s destinies to “go nowhere but here.”

— Nick James Scavo

Jack Callahan (die Reihe)

Jack Callahan (b. 1990) is a composer and sound engineer based in New York. He received a BA in Music Composition & Theory from Hampshire College in 2012. In 2011 he studied privately with Jürg Frey in Aarau, CH.

Since 2013 Callahan has been primarily working under the moniker die Reihe, taken from the journal edited by Herbert Eimert and Karlheinz Stockhausen. With this project he has toured the both the U.S. and Europe multiple times, been invited to numerous festivals and has released music with labels such as Anomia, Ascetic House, NNA Tapes, Salon. In 2013 he founded Bánh Mì Verlag, an imprint dedicated to contemporary experimental music and culture.

As a composer his music has been performed and recorded by ensembles such as the S.E.M. Ensemble, the Wet Ink Ensemble, So Percussion, the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, the Dog Star Orchestra in such cities as New York, Los Angeles, Amsterdam and Zürich.

As a sound engineer he is active in the event world. He toured consistently as a FOH engineer with Thurston Moore and his projects from 2012 to 2016 and has done numerous tours with him on no fewer than four continents.

He recently curated the concert series Pennies from Heaven in collaboration with Control Synthesizers and Electronic Devices in Brooklyn.

Jeff Witscher (Rene Hell)

Jeff Witscher (b. 1983, Long Beach, CA) is a musician who currently manages his own custodial and maintenance company Vincent’s Expert Cleaners in Portland, Or. He has recorded under many different names, Rene Hell perhaps being the most known. He focuses primarily on sound composition as well as video works for his live performances. Recent solo recordings include Approximately 1,000 Beers (2018), Fy Monkey Sisaj Kura (2017), Cob Music (2016), Bifurcating a Resounding No! (2014) and Vanilla Call Option (2013).


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