07/03/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

More Than One Way to Bang That Can

Spent a few hours listening to the performances at the BANG ON A CAN Marathon 2009 with a friend of mine who has little patience for la sonorité artistique. She described much of what she heard as "beehive music." I had to laugh. She wasn't wrong.

(One composer, Jeppe Just Christensen, played two pairs of amplified coffee grinders. Watch the video.)

Even so, The Smith Quartet seduced me with "White Man Sleeps," by Kevin Volans:

Also, Bill Frisell eventually got to me with his laid-back"Solo":

Repetition breeds familiarity. Maybe familiarity breeds the opposite of contempt ... narcosis? Anyway, it was Phil Kline's "John the Revelator" -- performed by the vocal ensemble Lionheart and the string quartet ETHEL -- that turned out to be what I liked best, even though I'm no fan of churchy music. (Sorry, no video.)

Incidental intelligence: During the performance of Gavin Bryars' "The Sinking of the Titanic," also played by the Smith Quartet, news came that the Titanic's last survivor had just died. I presume the music had nothing to do with it.

Postscript: "Look at these photos," a friend writes, "and think of a bunch of dipshits making music with coffee grinders or Volan's arty little piece appropriating South African tunes to make another of the limp-spined Left's innocuous, feel-good, PC statements (and written about 30 years ago which makes its status as new music rather questionable). Beehive music is a good term for Bang on a Can. It's a collective of yuppie drones and worker bees legitimizing blinkered Honkiness with cute Kultur."