SXSW Review: Sofi Paez, Lisa Morgenstern, Grandbrothers, March 12, Central Presbyterian Church

This night at the Presbyterian we have offerings from Sofi Paez, Lisa Morgenstern, and Grandbrothers.

20240313 Sofi Paez

Costa Rican pianist Sofi Paez showcased a string of hurried yet pensive numbers. If that seems contradictory, it’s because not only is her piano layered with other sounds, the music is also reminiscent of a classical acoustic guitar, polyphonic with fluent passages of a fairly simple melody.

This night she included pieces from her 2023 EP circles as well as previous works. It is world-building music, I would suggest, without end nor aim but still intense, pleasant yet tense to listen to.

20240313 Lisa Morgenstern

Berlin-based composer Lisa Morgenstern brought her powerful music, and it belonged nowhere else in SXSW except the church, or perhaps more appropriately, a sacred space.

Mixing classical elements and a folk-like expressiveness, her singing transformed into a chant in this space. That was unexpected based on the recorded music I had heard. Mixed in with a bit of baroque instrumental riffs in the background, her contralto voice became skinny with a slightly strange edge that contrasts well. I believe most of the setlist was drawn from her 2019 album Chameleon. This night there was a trumpet which added to the grandness. I would welcome it if she signs up for the next Disco Elysium soundtrack.

20240313 Grandbrothers

Grandbrothers do everything off of the grand piano. Whether you view it as a schtick or genuine exploration of an audio-landscape, they find different ways of hitting the strings, as well as utilizing the piano structures themselves, including the frame and other, to record any sound and weave the samples into electronic house music. To be very cheeky, by their definition, directing a trained elephant to smash a saxophone over a grand piano would also be playing the grand. It is fun that they thought about the sampling process, however.

Grandbrothers MADE the live sampling procedure into something in and of itself. Even though this isn’t necessarily just looping, they did not expose the listener to the building of the Lego blocks but arranged it to become additional passages … it could be segments out of order or more traditionally different parts recorded separately, but eventually you get enough to work with. To my ears, the music itself is not ground breaking and always proceeds with crescendo to end the same way. But the experience is enjoyable to watch.

Posted on by Gary in South By Southwest