Courtesy of the artist
The Dymaxion Quartet.
Courtesy of the artist
Nature may contain the best answer to every problem, but it was innovator Buckminster Fuller who created a portmanteau to explain it: DYnamic MAXimum tensION, or Dymaxion. The Dymaxion Quartet operates on this relatively simple concept: getting the maximum output from every unit of input.
"I think [Fuller] looked at the world through science, architecture and design — as though he was trying to unlock the code of a most efficient or perfect way of doing something," says drummer and leader Gabriel Gloege. "As it relates to the band and my compositions, I think of not having notes that don't need to be there. That's what I hope is very Dymaxion about this band."
Sympathetic Vibrations is the Dymaxion Quartet's debut recording. The band plays all original music, and each song is based on a photograph from Asca S.R. Aull's "Heaven on Earth" series. Aull spent three years in three different cities: Hong Kong, Paris and New York. He photographed aspects of each city's premodern culture, then spent another year finding old doors and window parts to frame them.
"There was a simplicity and a focus on a single idea or emotion," Gloege says. "He was just finding simple beauty that we pass by every day. His photos looked the way I want my music to sound. So I started writing some music based on it, and here we are, nine songs later."
Gabe Gloege, leader of the Dymaxion Quartet.
In this studio performance and interview for WBGO's The Checkout, we get to hear a third of them: "At One," "The Boat" and "Summer's End." The latter composition draws from a Parisian café at the end of summer.
"The sun is setting, and there's this crown of light coming over the crowded street," Gloege says. "There's a bittersweet feeling — the joy of reflecting on the fun you had over the summer, and the realization that life's going to get harder as the weather changes. So I took a melodic idea, then tried to write two extremely different pieces and slap them together. You can hear the motif in the chorale and the boogaloo. Both are from the same kernel."
There are plenty of big ideas in the Dymaxion Quartet, but the focal point comes from the music.
"If you accept the notion that music is a language, then you have a completely new set of tools with which to understand the world around you," Gloege says. "Living with music is living a richer, more profound life."