From the multihued vision of his aptly titled Cantaloupe debut Adventureland to the drumming-without-a-net workout of John Luther Adams’ Ilimaq, Glenn Kotche is on a roll, so to speak, both as a performer and as a composer. While most music fans already know him as the powerhouse drummer behind the beloved rock band Wilco, he’s also an emerging creative force in the contemporary classical world, drawing the attention of Adams, Kronos Quartet, Missy Mazzoli, the Bang on a Can All-Stars and many more.
Sō Percussion certainly took note when the group — Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski and Jason Treuting — approached Kotche several years ago about collaborating. “At the time, I was feeling a strong desire to get back to writing for percussion,” Kotche reveals in the liner notes to Drumkit Quartets, “because I think the timbral, textural, melodic and rhythmic possibilities haven’t been explored nearly enough. I try to do that through my solo performances, but I jumped at the chance to try it with such an incredible and forward-thinking group as Sō Percussion.”
The result runs the expressive gamut of percussive instrumentation, from the marimba-based “Drumkit Quartet #51” (with haiku recited by Cibo Matto’s Yuka Honda) to the hand-cranked sirens that open “Drumkit Quartet #50,” which channels the futurist manifesto of Luigi Russolo’s “art of noise,” spiced with a little John Cage and Luc Ferrari. A rich sonic tapestry of rhythmic exploration, audio collage and third-mind improv, Drumkit Quartets actually goes well beyond the drumkit — which is to be expected, given the feverishly inventive artists behind the recording.