The idea of percussion and rhythm is written directly into the title of David Kechley’s new album, Colliding Objects. The result is not a random dodgem car experience, but rather a set of precise, tactile works focused on the places where things connect: where the mallet hits the marimba, where the stick strikes the drum skin, where the tongue flutters on the reed. An award-winning composer, Kechley here collects works spanning almost three decades, from “Dancing: Four Movements for Five Percussionists playing Forty-four Instruments” (1982) to “Untimely Passages: A Slow Groove & Chaconne for Marimba & Flugelhorn” (2011). Throughout, Kechley mines the intimate in order to find the dramatic, eschewing volume and mass in favor of tension and melodic invention. Sometimes downright bouncy. This extends even to the instrumentation, which includes creative percussion such as circular saw blades and pine planks cut to different lengths in “Design and Construction” or the pitched gongs, crotales, woodblocks, and exotic bells of the title track. Kechley’s immediate and dynamic work has been recognized by a 1979 Guggenheim Fellowship, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1976, 1979), and commissions from the Barlow Foundation (1998) and the New England Orchestra Consortium (2004). His works have been commissioned and performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, Boston Pops, Cleveland Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, United States Military Academy Band, Kronos String Quartet, Lark Quartet, Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, Vienna Saxophone Quartet, among many others.
“Kechley seems to be bypassing the notions of what percussion could be to focus on what percussion is: it’s an impact, a duration, a decay, an anticipation, a presence, an absence, an exertion, an action. … Colliding Objects is separated into five sections, predominantly focused on percussion and rhythm but bleeding outward to explore melody and melodic instruments. What becomes beautifully apparent in the collection’s latter sections is Kechley’s distinctive approach to melody; while rhythm always maintains central focus via its dramatic turns of pace and duration, melody is threaded gorgeously through each beat, with his expert handling of the highs and lows turning those thuds and long instrumental sighs into a captivating assortment of steps and slopes.” [FULL ARTICLE]
CLASSICAL-MODERN MUSIC REVIEW
"[A]ngular, pulsating contemporary music with percussion often an integral part of the proceedings. ... Throughout Kechley shows how infectious rhythm and straightforward melodic arches can make for music that is both contemporary and accessible. It's music that gets attention without sacrificing musical substance." [FULL ARTICLE]