Press Release / Dated Material

Composer/percussionist/multimedia artist Eli Keszler hits the spotlight this summer with a new double-CD compilation titled Catching Net, released July 6th on the Berlin-based PAN label. Catching Net brings together new and previously-released versions of his acclaimed installation-based work Cold Pin, including the title track with string quartet and piano. Cold Pin has been featured on NPR, was just performed at the juried MATA Festival, and has earned Keszler Finalist status in the 2012 Gaudeamus International Composers Award competition (the winner is announced in September).

Catching Net is a collection of selected installations and compositions Keszler has created during the last two years. The double-CD set includes both stand-alone recordings of the installations and the integrated ensemble scores performed in conjunction with those installations.

The first disc features two ensemble versions of Cold Pin previously released in a 2011 LP of the same title on PAN, plus a 26-minute, previously unreleased live ensemble recording. The second disc begins with the title track, Catching Net, a 17-minute score for string quartet and piano with the Cold Pin installation. It is performed by pianist Sakiko Mori and the Providence String Quartet. The score is fully notated, timed with stopwatch markings rather than tempo or meter.

Following are two recordings of Keszler’s large-scale installations functioning on their own. Catching Basin (video below) features strings splayed from a two-story water tower across two large, empty water purification basins, which acted as an amplifier for the sounds produced by the installation.  A ‘solo’ version of Cold Pin (without live performers) concludes the album.

Tracks 1 and 3 on the first disc and track 2 on the second disc were recorded at the historic Cyclorama, a massive dome at the Boston Center for the Arts. Cold Pin was installed directly on a large curved wall in the dome, using microcontrolled motors and beaters to strike extended strings ranging in length from three to 25 feet.

The 2-CD set comes with a booklet housed in a large-scale gatefold design, featuring extensive images from the installations, program notes, sketches of the installations, scores, electronic schematics from the projects, and accompanying drawings. The cover art is a multi-layer drawing based on ideas around the mapping of the Collecting Basin installation, including a silkscreened outer sleeve using sketches from the project.

Prior to the CD release, Keszler’s monumental new work, L-Carrier, was unveiled with a live performance at Eyebeam Art & Technology Center in New York (see left for New York Times review). Commissioned by Issue Project Room and, L-Carrier is Keszler’s most ambitious creation to date, functioning simultaneously as a large-scale installation, score, ensemble composition, and remote website. The L-Carrier installation will remain on view at Eyebeam through June 23 and will be followed by further work in San Francisco, London and Utrecht.

Together, Catching Net and L-Carrier form a portrait of a musical thinker who, at the age of 28, is blazing new paths for the 21st-century avant-garde – merging high and low technology, digital sophistication and visceral impact.  

Video Cold Pin Installation

Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, Eli Keszler (pron. KESS-ler) began playing drums at eight, and composing at twelve. Before finding an interest in experimental music and improvisation, he played in rock and hardcore bands; his work retains an intense physicality and churning, often ferocious energy. He is a graduate of the New England Conservatory, where he studied composition with Anthony Coleman and Ran Blake. A self-taught visual artist, his aesthetic outlook owes as much to Richard Serra and Robert Smithson as it does to musical icons like Xenakis, Nancarrow, and Ornette Coleman. He has collaborated with Phill Niblock, Roscoe Mitchell, Joe McPhee, Loren Connors, Jandek, and many others, and has recorded more than a dozen CDs and LPs for ESP-DISK, REL, and PAN.

Keszler’s installations employ piano wires of varying lengths; these are struck, scraped, and vibrated by microprocessor-controlled motorized arms, giving rise to harmonically complex tones that are percussive yet resonant. These installations are heard on their own and with accompanying ensemble scores. Said Keszler in a NPR All Songs Considered interview, “I like to work with raw material, like simple sounds, primitive or very old sounds; sounds that won't get dated in any way. I was thinking of ways I could use strings or acoustic material without using pedals or pre-recordings, so the live aspects appealed to me.” In addition, the patterns formed by the overlapping piano wires allow Keszler to create visual components that relate directly to the music, without having to use projections or other electronic equipment. 
This combined-artwork concept finds compelling expression in both the Catching Net CDs and L-Carrier. The pieces compiled on Catching Net combine the mechanized Cold Pin installation with ensemble scores for mixed sextet and piano quintet; these are captured in contrasting acoustical spaces, including the resonant Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts. Also included is a recording of Collecting Basin, in which piano wires up to 250 feet long were stretched from a two-story water tower in Shreveport, Louisiana, and struck with automated beaters as in Cold Pin
L-Carrier advances the concept further, introducing a wild-card element in the form of a remote website that processes visual and sonic information from the installation and performance (captured via surveillance camera), and uses that data to modify the installation itself in real time.

Gamall Awad / Backspin Promotions
g AT

(Installations - Compostions)
CAT #: PAN 32

CD 1
01. Cold Pin 1 (from LP Side A)
02. Cold Pin 2 (from LP Side B)
03. Cold Pin 3 (Ensemble)

Eli Keszler: Drums, Percussion, Crotales, Guitar / Ashley Paul: Alto Saxophone, Bass Harp / Geoff Mullen: Guitar / Greg Kelley: Trumpet / Reuben Son: Bassoon

CD 2
01. Catching Net (String Quartet, Piano and Installation)

Carole Bestvater (violin), Rachel Panitch (violin) / Chloë Kline (viola) / Laura Cetilia (cello) / Sakiko Mori (piano)

Eli Keszler: Installation, Score/Composition
Original live recording by Your Heaven (r) LLC, Bell Street Chapel, Providence RI, 6.18.2011

02. Cold Pin (Cyclorama, Boston - Installation)
Installation recording
‘Cold Pin’ was up on display at the Boston Center for the Arts,
cyclorama during february of 2011.
It was installed on a large curved wall in the cyclorama dome using
micro-controlled motors and beaters to strike extended strings ranging in length from 3 to 25 feet.
Commissioned by the Boston Center For The Arts

03. Collecting Basin (Shreveport, LA)
Collecting Basin was installed in Shreveport, Louisiana at the McNeil Street Pumping Station in October of 2011 during the MSPC New Music Festival.
Extended Piano wire from 20 to 200 feet are struck with motorized beaters which are triggered from a micro controller system.
The strings splay directly out off a two story water tower, extending
over empty water purification basins.

Cover Drawing: Eli Keszler


Upcoming and current installations / performances include:

L-Carrier Installation: June 7th - June 23rd 2012,
Eyebeam Art & Technology Center 540 W. 21st St. New York

L-Carrier aims to show the complex movement of information as it morphs from one type of data into another, in both digital and highly physical states.

The mechanical installation uses lengths of piano wire, ranging in length from short to very long (up to 50 feet), which wrap around each other as they extend from the wall to the ceiling of the gallery in a complex geometric design. In addition, mechanical beaters strike wooden sounding boards, which work as low-tech amplifiers – projecting percussive tones throughout the space, creating an immersive and contrasting sound that articulates the layout and architecture of the piece and environment while the long strings produce complex harmonic formations around them.

L-Carrier is run and triggered by an internal feedback loop. A surveillance camera placed along a wall of the installation detects changes in the visual field, triggering images to change on a remote website. The website images are pulled from a portfolio of hand-drawn visual materials that constitute a “score” for the website component. These transformed images trigger new patterns for the automated mechanical component. Meanwhile, the surveillance video, along with audio feed of the installation becomes part of the website’s visual composition. Check the website at

The multifaceted nature of this project questions where the center of a musical/sculptural form lies – whether it is in the construction of a situation via ensemble and installation, a visual presentation, or in the physical qualities of the sound ultimately produced. 

San Francisco Innovative Art & Music Biennial
Special performance installation
August 5th 2012
Battery Townsley at Fort Cronkhite, Marin Headlands, off of Rodeo Beach



What the press are saying:

"Mr. Keszler’s work presents several paradoxes. A percussionist with roots in punk rock and free improvisation, he fuses chaos and order in his drumming: a burble and clatter akin to what European drummers like Tony Oxley and Han Bennink invented in the late 1960s to distinguish their work from American free jazz. Mr. Keszler’s penchant for pealing, ringing metal evokes another European percussionist, Eddie Prévost of the English collective AMM.

Roots notwithstanding, Mr. Keszler is an original; the way he deploys his energies is even more so. Listeners familiar with both hypercomplex modernist composition and nonidiomatic improvisation know that those methods, though radically opposed in aim, can sound similar in practice. Mr. Keszler’s music inhabits a gray area between those poles, using rigorously conceived scores to harness the inchoate energy of improvisation and its capacity for surprise." Steve Smith, New York Times, June 2012 - read full review of L-Carrier opening event here

Eli discusses his favorite recordings (Ligeti, Feldman, Paul McCarthy, Derek Bailey / Tony Oxley and Alvin Lucier) with Ad Hoc here

Eli Keszler and Keith Fullerton Whitman talk to Impose Magazine - Part 1, 2, 3