Beat & the Buzz
Klimchak loves opposites. That may explain why he's played with bands as diverse as disco diva RuPaul and avant hipster Bruce Hampton. 'I think of music as a crazy-quilt of different styles and patterns. I'm the thread that holds the whole mess together,' says the Atlanta-based composer and percussionist. 'I love the clash of colors and opposing patterns. That's where the music comes alive.' On his new solo CD, The Beat and The Buzz, he works the difference between electronic and acoustic music styles. Electrobeat buzzes clash with soulful hand drumming. An urban funk groove explodes into a hoedown of jaw harp and handclaps. Tuvan throat singing provides a sound bed for a flowering samba ensemble featuring the pig-like grunting of the Brazilian Cuica. This could be the loops of sample-hungry turntable collagists and laptop-toting poindexters. But it's not. One of the important qualities of Klimchak's music is that he plays it all himself. 'I don't have anything against buying and using samples and loops of other people's music. For what I'm doing it's easier and quicker just to record myself playing the instrument.' Of course that is easy for Klimchak to say, since he owns and plays literally hundreds of instruments. 'I've been collecting sound-makers since the late 1970's. When I have some free time, I usually sit down and learn to play a new flute or percussion instrument.' It could be an early electronic instrument like the sci-fi staple, the theremin or a low-tech rawhide frame drum from the Middle East. It's all grist for the sound-mill. 'In the modern world of Ebay and the internet, locating exotic instruments for cheap and getting instructions on playing them is a lot easier than it used to be.' Klimchak has been working exclusively in this style since the mid-eighties. Between stints with RuPaul, Hampton, and his two bass-vocal-percussion band, Fab Area, he began working on solo works for modern dance and theater. He uses his knowledge of exotic instruments and the sounds they make to provide a live underscore theater productions. Many of his recent works have been at the Georgia Shakespeare Festival. He has written and performed scores for the plays: Othello, Henry IV, Hamlet, Tartuffe, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Cymbeline. In addition, he's done scores for Shakespeare's Coriolanus at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, a live score for No Exit at Le Neon Theater in Washington, DC (nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for best sound design), and a live score for Malinche performed at the Bovenzaal Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam. Klimchak's dance work is equally important to his style. His recent work includes scores for Jane Comfort ('Three Bagatelles for the Righteous, excerpt (Election Update 2004)', performed in NYC at the Joyce Theater by Jane Comfort and Co in September) and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar of Urban Bush Women ('Are We Democracy?', performed in November at Emory University's Swartz Center for the Performing Arts). He regularly composes for faculty and guest choreographers at Emory University. It is his desire to collaborate that has delayed the recording of Klimchak's solo work. Since so much of his composition work involved artists of other disciplines like dance, theater and film, he has always left space in his work for the other performers. As a result, the scores seemed incomplete apart from their intended use. 'While I'm very proud of my collaborative work, I can never feel right about releasing it to the public as is because there's a hole in the music where the collaborators go. I always see it with the visuals and hear the dialog that accompanies the sound scores. I will always continue to do collaborative work. But sometimes I just want to make music that stands alone and makes people want to listen, think and dance.'