“Music and Its Double: The Immaculate (And Not-So-Immaculate) Conceptions of No Collective” | TDR (61-1, Spring 2017), MIT Press


The new issue of  TDR (MIT Press) has a fairly complex review/analysis of Immaculate Conception we staged last year with ensemble mise-en. Written by Cody Eikman, the piece is entitled “Music and Its Double,” and in addition to precisely articulating the mechanism of the work, it also launches a necessary critique of the relationship between experimental music and the so-called new music (namely the exploitation of the former by the latter). This is the second review of Immaculate Conception following “Double Act” in The Brooklyn Rail last year (http://brooklynrail.org/2016/09/music/immaculate-conception-by-no-collective), and mostly we are very happy abou the fact that there are appropriately two double reviews for our doppengänger piece. Thank you very much to everyone who spent time on this concert in one way or another (especially Dee Ali, our rehearsal director).

The video of the entire piece is here:

“The problem of the double has explicitly haunted music since John Cage declared music to be part of theatre. In Immaculate Conception, No Collective explored this doubling by creating a doppelgänger ensemble that acted as a copy of the musicians of the group ensemble mise-en. This tactic foregrounded the theatrical dimensions of music, while the context surrounding the performance itself highlighted the problematic entanglement of original and double (between “experimental” and “contemporary”) in the social sphere of new music.”

“‘Contemporary music’ and ‘experimental music’ form an uneasy double in the world of new music today. The tendency is for the former to capitalize on the latter, while discrediting it as derivative (and therefore free) resource. Ensemble mise-en does not ‘examine’ as much as ‘exploit’ the ‘unusual corners of the composition world.’ But the perception of an apparent hierarchy between the polished and professional music and its unusual and amateurish double must be reversed. In most cases, the repertoire of a ‘contemporary music’ ensemble comprises none other than the ‘experimental music’ of yesteryear — ridiculed in the past, but accepted and institutionalized over time. Until the moment of acceptance from its double, experimental music remains a peripheral origin of what is generally regarded as ‘contemporary’ in music. That the refined copy can retroactively author the primitive original is no secret in the social sphere of new music. The fear of double persists therein.”