Gravity Radio, a multi-media song cycle by the composer Mikel Rouse, comes to the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival on December 7 and runs there through the 11th. It's a terrific piece, even without the visual element—I've only witnessed a relatively stripped-down incarnation of it, a while back, but the CD has been a pretty constant presence on my iPod and stereo in recent months. I've been a fan of Rouse's music since it began appearing, via his then-band Tirez Tirez, on Les Disques Du Crepescule and Sire in the early-to-mid '80s; I reviewed one of the bands' albums—I can't remember now whether it was '87's Social Responsibility or '88's Against All Flags—for the Village Voice back in the day. His stuff in the classical realm is also bracing and thoroughly pleasurable—I think his 1993 album Soul Menu is one of the greatest collections of composed music for what's generally referred to as "rock" instrumentation ever, and has equal appeal for fans of Steve Reich and Henry Cow/National Health, I would think. And, to bow to that increasingly apparently-obsolete journalistic consideration regarding potential conflicts of interest, yes, I have been friends with Mikel (whose work you can find out a lot more about from his excellent website, here) for some time.
But wait, there's more conflict! Because while this is Rouse's second time out at the Next Wave festival—his first was with the terrific multi-media opera The End of Cinematics—Gravity Radio marks the Brooklyn Academy of Music debut of Claire Kenny, known to readers of this blog as "My Lovely WIfe," and, indeed, that is her lovely self in the collage of images above, her adorable visage somewhat hidden by microphone, spectacles, and sheaf of paper. Gravity Radio takes the form of an aired, you know, radio broadcast, its songs are interspersed with news readings that are taken off the AP wire on the day of the performance; Claire collates the material and appears on stage to read it. She's a GR veteran, having toured with the piece in January of this year, and she'll be traveling with it briefly (to Cleveland and Western Pennsylvania) before it hits BAM. (On the CD the newsreading is done by Veanne Cox, the veteran actor whose many claims to fame include playing Toby, Jerry's heckler on the Seinfeld episode "The Fire.") I could not be more proud of her and excited for her, and am a little bit weirdly stage-fright nervous to post about this. So maybe now might be a good time to point out that the opinions expressed on this website represent those of the author and do not represent the opinions or policies of His Lovely Wife, who is neither angry, nor bitter, nor old, and who actually loves mumblecore films (or, as she sometimes calls them when she's feeling whimsical, "le cinema de la jeunnese")...okay, I just made up that last part, she's only ever seen Mutual Appreciation and she thought it was "okay." But anyway, the point is, she is not me, but rather, she is a terrifically gifted performer, and she's in a wonderful show, and if you're in the tri-state area and are of a mind to go, you definitely should. I'll be at the stage door of the Harvey every night, just like DeNiro in City By The Sea (God love you if you ever sat through that horror...).