“One can feel it: someone is at it with fire here, strides his path without wavering; digs in, yet remains open. In Zurich’s Kunstraum Walcheturm, the composer Virgil Moorefield, with his Bicontinental Pocket Orchestra consisting of American and Swiss Musicians, presented a sequence of works from recent years. The American, who speaks perfect Swiss German, took up residence in the vicinity of Zurich in 2010. Listening to Moorefield’s music, one feels that the Atlantic lies between American and Europe; he works with his sonic material unfettered by European traditions. Moorefield started out as a rock drummer, and he doesn’t hide his origins in his work. In No Business As Usual (2010) one senses with particular clarity how his rhythmically complex (rock) material employs strict processes to seek new paths. In terms of form, energetic blocks are placed next to each other with clearly defined breaks. But what sounds this “Pocket Orchestra” produces, and with what unparalleled intensity! Impressive, how Vicky Chow (piano), Ian Ding (vibraphone), Martin Lorenz (drums), Taylor Levine (guitar), Jürg Wickihalder (baritone sax), and Will Robbins (contrabass) realize this music with intense concentration and precision.Moorefield’s music is especially charming when he draws his musicians into his work using a process he calls “comprovisation”, for example in Arrival of The Crows (1998), and –with particular success—in Detroit per Se (2012). His main work of the last few years is the intermedia composition Five Ideas About the Relation of Sight and Sound (2008-2011), in which he brings together acoustic instruments, live electronics, lighting, and video projection. Live performance is translated into images in real time, in a way that is related to the live electronic processing. A somewhat direct transformation, perhaps, but it helps give the five movements of the work a dramaturgy. And again one is captivated by the physicality, the idiosyncratic energy of the sounds, their structure. There’s a feeling of completeness as the work ends with the magical vibration of the drum heads (with Moorefield himself and two other drummers) in the final trio. –A brand new CD/DVD release on the Swiss label Hinterzimmer documents Moorefield’s recent works, including the Five Ideas (HINT 17).” (Switzerland, Tuesday April 9, 2013)
(neural.it, italy, november 2013)
“Virgil Moorefield’s fifth release since…1982, No Business As Usual steers clear of the temptations of noise throughout its seven tracks. It’s steeped in a jazz which at times is practically rock, in a way the acolytes of Tzadik—to put things in context a bit—couldn’t help but admire. Surrounded by six musicians featuring the impressive Ian Ding on vibraphone and percussion, the American musician, who holds degrees from both Princeton and Columbia, impresses by the quality of his progressions and the equilibrium of his compositions. Of a splendid clarity which hinders neither invention nor expressionism, these seven declensions open doors well beyond blue notes, notably in the course of the fourteen minutes of pianistic bravura on Detroit Per Se, divinely played by Vicky Chow. The DVD Five Ideas About the Relation of Sight and Sound offers an intimate counterpoint, which is also experimental and enriched by carefully assembled video murals. A splendid (re)discovery.” (Belgium, June 2013)
“A drummer and composer with a nice c.v. (works on Tzadik, Cuneiform and Innova, collaborations with Swans and Glenn Branca), New Yorker Moorefield unsheaths his Bicontinental Pocket Orchestra (Vicky Chow on piano, Ian Ding on vibraphone and drums, Alekasander Gabrys on contrabass, Taylor Levine on guitar, Martin Lorenz on percussion), keeping for himself only the role of drums on Siamese Kits, as well as composition and production.
Judging by the instrumentation, it would be easy to imagine a jazz-rock ensemble, but in reality Moorefield’s music is far more complex and more closely related to the conductions of Butch Morris or the compositions of Henry Threadgill, where jazz encounters contemporary classical and improvisation meets the score, albeit in this case with more of a rock attitude. This is a music that’s tense and nervous, that finds an equilibrium between frenetic outbursts and feverish waiting, intriguing digressions in an exotic/jazz vein, colorful percussive polyphony featuring piano and vibraphone, and obsessions fired off in the manner of vintage hard bop (No Business As Usual, divided into five parts). It isn’t surprising that Moorefield has travelled in circles at the outer reaches of No Wave: the powerful, sanguine attitude of Swans and the Branca’s minimal-symphonic style are heard (Siamese Kits, Joined at the Kick, for percussion only) alongside the elusive elegance of the Lounge Lizards (Detroit Per Se) meet up in a disc that can exert a strong attraction evenon the most adventurous Wavers. The DVD Five Ideas About the Relation of Sight and Sound contains another five performances recorded live in Zurich featuring almost exclusively Moorefield himself. Many of the methods employed in the ensemble works become clear in the vision of the director performing on his own, from the use of the piano in a literally physical sense by playing the strings directly with the hands rather than using keys (River of Color), to the guitar absorbed in refractions and loops (grainyFilm), to the entirely transformed vibraphone and drums.” (Italy, May 2013)
"This evening I’ve brought along one of the recent productions of the wonderful Hinterzimmer label.
It is a double album, a CD and DVD in fact, by musician and multimedia artist Virgil Moorefield, together with his Bi-Continental Pocket Orchestra, which brings together American and European artists. The CD begins with a work in five sections entitled No Business as Usual, a beautiful composition for piano, vibraphone, percussion, electric guitar, saxophone and bass. It is followed by Detroit per Se, in which Virgil Moorefield seeks to translate the influence of urban and industrial rhythms into contemporary music. The last piece of the album is a complex and impressive drum kit duet. The DVD is an audiovisual performance that illustrates the interaction between gesture and sound in ways made possible by today's advanced technologies " (France, May 2013)
“The Swiss label Hinterzimmer is always a good bet for Avantgarde nerds. Following Reto Mäder’s departure (one surmises in favor of his many projects such as RM74, Ural Umbo, and Sum of R), Roger Ziegler is doing a great job on his own, releasing one lovingly opened pearl after the other. Experimental music par excellence—not always simple, let alone easily accessible, but usually convincing. Such is the case with Virgil Moorefield’s new album. A breaking wave, and one of genius at that. Where to begin, where to end? To cut a path through this album of the composer who has performed with the Avantgarde ranging from Swans to Elliott Sharp? This forty-five-minute monster, which features jazz instrumentation, is at times organized according to prime numbers, borrows elements of minimalism—yet thunders like a Slayer LP? That grooves and twists and turns like Tortoise in their (early) prime? And then, to top it all off, this crazed DVD that captures a live performance which plays ping pong with perception, as well as time and space? The just about hermetic manifestoes that come with it? What is one to do with all this? Party hard, that’s what! Thanks, Hinterzimmer! Thanks, Moorefield! (9)” (Germany, June 2013)