"This album collects some of the greatest music the band has made over its 25 years of being dedicated to 'awesome.'" — San Francisco Classical Voice
With Big Beautiful Dark and Scary, the Bang on a Can All-Stars show off their polyrhythmic virtuosity in a return to the core Bang on a Can sound — an uncategorizable mix that sets them apart as a classical ensemble, jazz sextet and rock band rolled into one. Recorded in New York City, all the music on Big Beautiful Dark and Scary (including the arrangements of works by Conlon Nancarrow) was written for and premiered by the All-Stars.
Big Beautiful Dark and Scary's title track was written by Julia Wolfe, who witnessed the 9/11 tragedy. Based on her memory of standing with her young children just two blocks from the Twin Towers when the planes hit, the piece captures the feverish post-apocalyptic feeling of living in the aftermath of 9/11 with an ominous, full-throttle wall of sound. For the premiere in April 2002, Wolfe wrote, "This is how life feels right now."
Big Beautiful Dark and Scary also features brand new tracks by Michael Gordon, David Lang, Louis Andriessen, Evan Ziporyn, Kate Moore (BoaC Summer Festival 2007 alum), and David Longstreth (an alum of the 2003 Bang on a Can Summer Festival). Longstreth's three contributions to the album — Instructional Video, Matt Damon, and Breakfast at J&M — capture the off-beat quirkiness that has become his signature as the mastermind behind the indie sensation Dirty Projectors.