As recipients of one of ESS's 2011-12 Artist Residencies, Madison psych-folk duo Spires That in the Sunset Rise and acclaimed percussionist Michael Zerang will culminate the Outer Ear series with three consecutive nights of performances. Before each performance, the musicians will spend 6-8 hours at ESS to intensively explore various compositional frameworks and electronic enhancements for the 25 instruments the they plan to employ. Each concert will be professionally recorded by ESS staff; the artists will edit and mix the resulting recordings into an album to be completed in early 2012.
Spires That In The Sunset Rise (Kathleen Baird and Taralie Peterson) have been performing together for the past 10 years. The four original members of the band (Kathleen Baird, Georgia Vallas, Taralie Peterson, and Tracy Peterson) grew up together in Decatur, Illinois, eventually moving to Chicago, Illinois, where they began to experiment with creating songs. Drawing from experimental music and multi-cultural music, they created a unique sound that they debuted on their first self-titled album Spires That in the Sunset Rise. The first album was created without Taralie's sister Tracy Peterson, but she soon joined the group before the making of their second album Four Winds the Walker. A year later they created their third album This Is Fire, which is considered one of their most accessible releases to date. Tracy Peterson left the band before the making of their fourth album, Curse the Traced Bird. Since their first release, they have contributed a new slant to the New Folk movement by incorporating a darker sound and extended vocal techniques into their music. Their music has drawn comparisons to The Raincoats, Current 93, Comus, and The Ex, and they have toured throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Michael Zerang was born in Chicago, Illinois, and is a first-generation American of Assyrian decent. He has been a professional musician, composer, and producer since 1976, focusing extensively on improvised music, free jazz, contemporary composition, puppet theater, experimental theater, and international musical forms. He has collaborated extensively with contemporary theater, dance, and other multidisciplinary forms and has received three Joseph Jefferson Awards for Original Music Composition in Theater, in 1996, 1998, and 2000. He has over eighty titles in his discography and has toured nationally and internationally since 1981 with and ever-widening pool of collaborators. He was the artistic director of the Link's Hall Performance Series from 1985-1989 where he produced over 300 concerts of jazz, traditional ethnic folk music, electronic music, and other forms of forward thinking music. He continued to produce concerts at Cafe Urbus Orbis from 1994-1996, and at his own space, The Candlestick Maker in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood, from 2001 - 2005. He has taught as a guest artist at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in performance technique, sound design, and sound/music as it relates to puppetry; rhythmic analysis for dancers at The Dance Center of Columbia College, Northwestern University, and MoMing Dance and Arts Center; courses in Composer - Choreographer Collaborations at Northwestern University; music to children at The Jane Adams Hull House. He has held workshops in improvisational music and percussion technique and teaches private lessons in rhythmic analysis, music composition, and percussion technique.