Sontag Shogun is a collaborative trio that makes use of analog sound treatments and nostalgic solo piano compositions in harmony to depict abstract places in our memory. Textures built from organic materials such as sand, slate, boiling water, brush and dried leaves, both produced live in performance and recorded to weathered 1/4″ tape warm up the space between lush piano themes. All of which is abstracted coolly in the reflective digital space of treated vocals and a live-processed feed from the piano. Bringing us back, like a faded passing scent or any natural emotive trigger, but to where? The wordless journey there will inevitably be more revealing than the destination itself.
Sontag Shogun has improvised with artists as diverse as Matana Roberts, Shinya Sugimoto, Tom Carter and Aki Onda as well as poets, choreographers, filmmakers, a collective of Japanese contemporary video artists and scentscape installation artists. They have shared the stage with notable artists such as Hauschka, Julia Kent, Minamo, Todd Reynolds, R. Luke DuBois, Chris Tignor, Alexander Turnquist, Akron/Family, William Parker & Hamid Drake, Chris Forsyth, Ben Vida & Koen Holtkamp, Sam Shalabi, Noveller, Christof Migone, Anoice, thisquietarmy, 10 and Yan Jun, as well as many others.
Ian Temple, piano
Jeremy Young, tapes, oscillators, piezo mics
Jesse Perlstein, laptop, field recordings
“There’s a tangible loneliness to Sontag Shogun’s music, but there’s a wistful loveliness present, too. The Brooklyn trio assumes a sort of songwriting assembly line, with Ian Temple’s emotive, tremulous piano figures falling prey to Jesse Perlstein’s legion of atmospheric, laptop-catalogue samples and the oscillator/tapes/electronic militia at Jeremy Young’s command. Borne thereof are instrumentals that hover somewhere between quiet-storm raucous and New Age quiescent: giggly ivory-tickles brush elbows with industrial found sounds; funny-bone effects trill like cicadas or fireworks or distant slide whistles; sonatas and pitch-shifted drones suck face. Unlikely antecedents turn up in this mournful and meditative melee (The band counts composers like Arvo Part, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Philip Glass, and Max Richter among their influences.) Perhaps it’s just that they seem to, for succumbing to a Sontag Shogun song is like wandering into a mist or thinny in a mystery novel: the first few seconds are universally objective, but beyond that, the experience is colored by what the listener brings to the table.”
-Ray Cummings, Village Voice