Steal This Track: Tom Hagerman (DeVotchKa) and Signal PathBy Eryc Eyl | May 21st, 2012 | No Comments »
Today feels like a great day for free Colorado music, so let’s get some. We have inventive instrumental music from Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa and a different side of Colorado with electronic group Signal Path. Read on and steal away.
Though Tom Hagerman is best known for playing a zillion instruments in DeVotchKa throughout the past 15 years, his contributions to recordings by Crooked Fingers, M. Ward, Mercury Rev, Sage Francis and many more are no less significant. An alum of the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he studied classical violin while playing bass in a goth band, Hagerman is not only the master of many instruments, but also an accomplished composer. With little fanfare, he has released three albums. In 2007, he released “The Breakfast Playground,” named for the inventive children’s play area at Cherry Creek Mall. Last year, he quietly released two additional albums. “Water Music” recontextualized music he’d originally written to score the documentary film “Where Have All the Mermaids Gone,” and it played like film music. “Idle Creatures,” however, which will have its official release party this Thursday at the Larimer Lounge, stands on its own.
“Idle Creatures” is a collection of instrumental compositions that finds Hagerman exploring not only Western classical traditions, but also weaving in classical and folk music influences from around the world to create music that will appeal to contemporary classical fans — and also to people who just appreciate hummable melodies, eclectic arrangements and lush instrumentation. Recorded in Colorado and Texas wherever the artist could find time between touring and recording commitments with DeVotchKa, the album includes a number of collaborators, including the remarkable Tosca String Quartet. It’s Hagerman’s spirit — alternately melancholy and whimsical — that gives “Idle Creatures” its soul. The composer brings to life gripping, uplifting and engaging music that will put a grin on the face of even the most die-hard classical music hater. Steal “The Night Cap” to hear just one side of Hagerman, then get down to the Larimer Lounge this Thursday for a rare chance to see him perform in an intimate setting. There’s no telling who might show up.
Last year, Signal Path put out four EPs — more music than some groups put out in four years — and they gave them all away for free, building on their international reputation for making fresh, original electronic dance music available to anyone who wants it. To cleanse their artistic palates and start fresh, the boys decided to kick off 2012 with a collection of remixes, mashups, flips and inversions of other people’s music. “MixtaEP” features material from indie favorites like Active Child, Shabazz Palaces, Cults, Zola Jesus and more, all turned inside out and upside down with a unique Signal Path esthetic. Not just a remix EP, “MixtaEP” — with its innovative approach and signature sounds — deserves its place in the proper Signal Path discography. Steal “Run The Heart – Sleigh Bells VS. Sleep – The Roots VS. Peso – A$AP Rocky (Signal Path Remix)”, then hop over to the Signal Path Bandcamp page to grab the whole EP for free. Then, don’t miss the band putting on its full live electronic show at the Bluebird Theater on Fri, May 25. Ticketsare $15, plus service charges.
Please note that downloads offered via Steal This Track are intended to whet your appetite, and are NOT CD-quality recordings. If you want those, please support the artists by buying their music and/or seeing them live.
If you’re a band or musician ready to expose your fresh sounds to the readers of Reverb, email your tracks — along with any interesting facts about them, as well as a photo or album art — to Eryc Eyl for consideration.
Eryc Eyl is a veteran music journalist, critic and Colorado native who has been neck-deep in local music for many years. Check out Steal This Track for local music you can HEAR, and the Mile High Makeout for stories about Denver musicians doing extraordinary things. Against his mother’s advice, Eryc has also been known to tweet. You can also follow Steal This Track on Twitter. Sorry, Mom.