Battle Trance is pleased to share the first track from their debut full-length Palace of Wind, out August 26, 2014 on New Amsterdam Records/NNA Tapes. The group has also released a brief album trailer featuring a dreamlike montage of the performers and audio from the record, which can be streamed HERE.
Battle Trance has also announced a string of North American tour dates this fall, beginning inKittery, ME at The Buoy on September 1 and finishing in Philadelphia, PA at The Rotunda onNovember 20. The current list of tour dates is below, with more to be announced soon.
Palace of Wind is a piece that not only transcends genres, but also transcends time and space. Existing in the cracks between contemporary classical music, avant-garde jazz, black metal, ambient, and world music, Palace of Wind is an album-length composition that pushes the four saxophonists to the limit, shedding new light on the saxophone as an ensemble instrument. The players use circular breathing to build continuous, hypnotic waves of sound; multiphonics layer to create intricate textures that reflect an ancient time; and blisteringly fast lines seem to liquefy into each other. However, Palace of Wind isn’t merely concerned with demonstrating the virtuosity of the ensemble, nor with impressing or entertaining the listener. Instead, it is meant to be a portal of resonance where there is no separation between the listener and the sound.
Battle Trance had an auspicious inception. One morning, Travis Laplante literally awoke with the crystal clear vision that he needed to start an ensemble with three specific individuals: Matthew Nelson, Jeremy Viner, and Patrick Breiner. Laplante was actually unfamiliar with their work as musicians and had only a minimal relationship with them as individuals. He was also aware that a band of four tenor saxophones could be the worst idea ever. In spite of this, Laplante followed through and contacted Nelson, Viner, and Breiner. He gave them very little information beyond his morning experience. But no one hesitated – the ensemble formed that evening.
Since many of the techniques used in the piece are nearly impossible to notate in traditional form, Palace of Wind was transmitted via the oral tradition. The rehearsals were much like martial arts training: intricate sounds were rigorously copied and repeated by the ensemble members until they perfected the techniques. Many hours were spent building the sheer strength required to sustain continuous circular breathing for extended periods. Likewise, a steady focus on physicality was required to repeat rapid note patterns for long periods without sacrificing speed. Palace of Wind is such a demanding composition that there is a high risk of physically burning out before the piece concludes, as once it begins there is no opportunity for rest or even a quick drink of water. There was also extensive training in dissolving the distinct individual identities of the players into the greater collective sound: The band did various long-tone exercises, similar to group meditation, the purpose being to blend together into one sound, so that the origin of the collective sound’s components is completely impossible to discern – even by the members of the ensemble.
Palace of Wind does embrace both the cerebral nature of composition and the visceral act of performance, but immediately locates itself, the musicians and the audience in a purely spiritual space. It is a new kind of music and therefore modern, and yet it’s absolutely primordial, the transformative act of human beings blowing air through tubes and producing something timeless.
Battle Trance tour dates:
9/1 – The Buoy – Kittery, ME
9/2 – Jenke Arts – Burlington, VT
9/3 – Casa del Poplo – Montreal, QC
9/4 – Mugshots – Ottawa, ON
9/5 – Array Space – Toronto, ON
9/6 – Now That’s Class – Cleveland, OH
9/7 – Constellation – Chicago, IL
9/8 – Trinosophes – Detroit, MI
9/9 – TBA – Kalamazoo, MI
9/10 – Oberlin College – Oberlin, OH
9/11 – Silo Sessions – Buffalo, NY
9/24 – Roulette – Brooklyn, NY
9/26 – The Red Room – Baltimore, MD
10/30 – Emerald Lounge – Vancouver, BC
11/1 – Earshot Jazz Festival – Seattle, WA
11/2 – Habesha Lounge – Portland, OR
11/4 – TBA – Sacramento, CA
11/5 – Center for New Music – San Francisco, CA
11/6 – TBA – Oakland, CA
11/7 – Equitable Vitrines – Los Angeles, CA
11/20 – The Rotunda – Philadelphia, PA