gone for foreign

I’ve shared the bill with music by David Claman on two oddball instrument programs this past year—The Extensible Toy Piano Project in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Capital M’s world premieres extravaganza of compositions for rock band—and in both cases I was struck by how Claman redefines ensembles for his own compositional ends. So it figures that Claman would come up with something really creative for the Cygnus Ensemble, a broken consort that is part Pierrot (flute, violin, cello, and oboe instead of clarinet) and part pluckfest (guitars plus the occasional mandolin and banjo). He composed gone for foreign in 1999 while studying in India, but this surreal work shares little in common with Indian music other than a surface psychedelic feel. But that is not so much Indian music as the sound of Indian music translated into late ’60s rock, a music as near and dear to Claman’s heart as it is to his mentor, Steve Mackey, with whom Claman studied at Princeton and whose Indigenous Instruments creates a similar hypothetical sound world.

—FJO