High Art

High art but without the crash
Samuel Carl Adams
Timo Andres
Adrian Knight
Jon Russell
The Living Earth Show
Andrew Meyerson
Travis Andrews
Catalog Number: 
new music

San Francisco, CA

Release Date: 
Nov 19, 2013
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

The Living Earth Show’s debut album, High Art, begins with a blues lick gone awry – a hit cymbal and a pitch-bent guitar – and ends with electronics eating themselves. In between, the Living Earth Show — two Bay Area Indie-Classicists with a cult following — crafts an album that stretches the definitions of “art” and “popular” music. High Artnavigates the traditions of classical, rock and roll, blues, and electronic music, stitching them into to a groundbreaking statement on the past, present, and future of American music.

Although the duo of Travis Andrews (electric guitar) and Andy Meyerson (drums/percussion) wields the building blocks of American popular music from the last half-century, High Art is a classical record first and foremost, albeit with a Left Coast attitude. The ensemble commissioned four of the most talented young American composers to conjure ambient wonders, creating a dialogue between contemporary classical and laid-back popular music, as well as elements of sound manipulation and electro-acoustics.

Samuel Carl Adams’ “Tension Study 1” transports the listener to a sound world where spectral snapshots of blues gestures float through outer space, bathed in electronic resonance, eventually coalescing in a cinematic and explosive payoff of glitchy, cathartic guitar and drums.

The deceptively complex technical virtuosity required by Timo Andres’ “You broke it, you bought it” belies the hypnotically subtle textures that seamlessly meld the guitar and vibraphone. The album’s centerpiece, Adrian Knight’s “Family Man,” is a simultaneously beautiful and hauntingly heavy bitcrushed symphony, located at the intersection of Morton Feldman and Sigur Ros. Like Steve Reich fronting Sepultura, Jon Russell’s “Repetitive Stress” is a primitively heavy, ear-splitting minimalistic rocker of a chamber music composition, highlighting the players’ experience with San Francisco’s metal troupe Freighter. The album concludes with Samuel Adams’ “Tension Study 2,” a piece both beautiful and mechanical, perhaps like a dove being eaten by the Internet?


“A vanguard effort of new chamber music.” -- San Francisco Examiner

“[A] much-sought-after presence on the indie-classical scene.” -- San Francisco Classical Voice

“[A] fantastically distorted perpetual motion of awesome.” -- I Care If You Listen

"[A]n elephantine ballet; a precise alternation between hesitation (stifled percussion, muted muscle contraction) and luxurious release – a to-and-fro of sonic glottal stops and soft decays, feeding taut potential into outward release as levitating vibraphones become open guitar strums and hi-hat exhales. Each instrument feels as though it’s straining against a length of rope, poised in constellations of sporadic low note thumbs and notes that hang in the ether unclaimed, waiting for equilibrium to sweep down and take them. … [E]ach composition is the result of [guitar and percussion] working in parallel and counter-balance: guitar swirls upward to blanket the negative space left by the decay of chiming cymbal, while those triumphant pops of major key and bass drum radiate with the reactive glow of mutual thought. … Even when 'Repetitive Stress' inverts the image completely (crumpled dissonance and stumbling rhythms, like a Dillinger Escape Plan held together with masking tape), the warmth of symbiosis is there to cradle the rust and boisterous heavy metal worship, maintaining a straight line of continuity through the album’s zigzag of constant contrast." [FULL ARTICLE]
Jack Chuter

"Mixing art with craft, this album of five tunes veers somewhere between assertive ambience and tongue in cheek musical conversations." [FULL ARTICLE]
George W. Harris