319 N 11th St, 3rd Floor, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107
75 Dollar Bill was formed in 2012 in New York City by percussionist Rick Brown and guitarist Che Chen. Played on a deeply resonant plywood crate, Brown’s earthy, elemental rhythms are both the foundation and foil for Chen’s ecstatic, modal guitar style. The duo’s electric, richly patterned music can shape shift from joyful dance tunes to slowly changing trance minimalism, an uncategorizable hybrid which draws on early electric blues, the modal traditions of West Africa, India and the Middle East, Sun Ra’s space chords and the minimalist and No Wave histories of their hometown. While Brown and Chen are always at the band’s core, the duo frequently expands into other configurations live and on record, from trio to 25-piece marching band. This special quartet formation of the band features Sue Garner and Talice Lee, whose contributions on guitar/bass/percussion and violin respectively enrich the proceedings thru the rhythmic and harmonic expansion of the duo’s core sound. Both have long histories of collaborating with Brown and Chen and are members of the 75 Dollar Bill “Little Big Band”.
75 Dollar Bill has released a string of cassettes and two LPs the most recent of which, Wood / Metal / Plastic / Pattern / Rhythm / Rock on the Thin Wrist label, received many highly positive reviews and appeared on numerous lists of 2016’s best releases. It has since been released (on vinyl, digitally and, for the first time, on CD) in Europe by Glitterbeat Records on its tak:til imprint. Their forthcoming double LP, I Was Real, will be released by Thin Wrist in early 2019.
Percussionist Rick Brown has been in bands in NYC since the late 70s, including Blinding Headache, V-Effect and Run On. Guitarist Che Chen was previously in the band True Primes and has been an energetic collaborator in the American and Japanese undergrounds over the last decade. Sue Garner was in Run On and Fish and Roses with Rick and has released several albums under her own name. Talice Lee has lent her voice and violin playing to projects led by Sue Garner and Morgan Vo, and is a member of a free improvising group with Todd Capp, Daniel Carter, Kurt Ralske and Che.
“The instrumental duo of Che Chen and Rick Brown have been blowing minds on the East Coast live circuit with little more than an electric guitar and a wooden crate rhythm section … An improvised structure that’s not afraid to lay out a hypnotic boogie.” The Wire (#16 – Releases of the Year 2016)
Drawing on experiences performing both improvised and composed works, Meridian approaches percussion in a way that places the exploration of sound in the foreground, in favor of a musical approach that is concerned with exploring acoustic phenomena, rather than rhythm, gesture, or technique.
In creating this music, Meridian re-imagines its materials, so that an instrument like a snare drum becomes literally a cylindrical shell with an attached flexible membrane. When viewed from this perspective, traditional instruments become unique sound-making and sound-filtering objects, to be set into vibration coupled with resonant metals, dragged with scraping implements, or driven directly by fingers, bows, or feedback circuitry. In performance, each musician invents a new method for producing sound, a new aggregate instrument, in real-time.