Secret Drum Band’s Debut album, Dynamics (XRAY Records, August 2017), sees composers Lisa Schonberg, Allan Wilson, and Heather Treadway delving headway into creating living, breathing soundscapes, rich in rhythm and sonic texture. Percussion drives each piece, with guitars, affected vocals, and synthesizers woven into the compositions, often mimicking and responding to sounds found in nature.
“The music is built to represent how sonic components function together both spatially and temporally in specific landscapes. Sound and movement are represented by affected samples and ambient textures, mimicked or abstracted in drum patterns, and represented in tone and mood through instrumentation,” Schonberg explains.
Stylistically Secret Drum Band pull from a unique vantage point, at once percussively No Wave, bombastic, and mesmerizing, drawing allusions from Liquid Liquid, The Creatures, and Crash Worship, and to the composers’ previous groups Explode into Colors and chk chk chk (!!!). Dynamics is a vibrant work of serious intent expertly rendered with a playfully exuberant spark.
Schonberg wrote three of the tracks on Dynamics—Kīpukapuaulu, Polihale/Kīlauea/South Point, and Pepeaio Cabin—in tandem with the work she was doing in Hawaii with the native Hylaeus bees, which she helped get federally listed as endangered species. The remainder of the tracks on the album were written in response to locations in the Mojave Desert and to logging sites in Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon.
A Secret Drum Band performance is transportive, an opportune meditation on the relationships between humans, ecology and music. All pieces are adeptly scored by Schonberg and Wilson, allowing each musician to realize the complex and intricate arrangements in a live setting. Dynamics aptly captures this natural energy, allowing sharp, finely textured details to roar within the thunder of the drums. Subtle percussive tones are meticulously captured, representing a multi-layered ambiance, each call, each noise occupying it’s own niche. "Kīpukapuaulu’s" vibrant polyrhythmic cadences insinuate an endless vortex of bird calls, while the cacophonous tension of "Jazz (Timber Sale)" simultaneously evokes the complexity of the forest flora and the anxiety of approaching logging trucks. “Music is our most publicly effective (and personally healing) vehicle to make statements about environmental issues,” adds Schonberg.
“They’re not simply playing a show, they’re creating an immersive experience that lasts for a moment, then dissolves, creating a hypnotic alternate reality for all who bear witness to it.” —The Oregonian
SDB has performed in various manifestations all over the U.S. West Coast, including Disjecta, The Quiet Music Festival, The Improvisation Summit of Portland, The Henry Gallery, MOCA Tucson, for PMOMA, and at events for Tom Tom Magazine, High Desert Test Sites and ESP TV. Schonberg has played with Tara Jane Oneil, John Niekrasz, Tuneyards, Erase Errata, Mirah, and Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, and commissioned a score for filmmaker Vanessa Renwick. Secret Drum Band will begin touring in summer 2017 in support of Dynamics with drummers Pieter Hilton (Typhoon), Anthony Brisson (Psychomagic), and sound artist Marcus Fischer (12K). Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for booking and press inquiries. Dynamics features performances from Marisa Anderson, Brian Mumford (Dragging an Ox Through Water), Aaron Hartman (Old Time Relijun), and Jose Medeles (1939 Ensemble).
Secret Drum Band is a percussion and noise ensemble from Portland, OR. Lisa Schonberg started SDB in 2006 in Olympia, WA. Her dreamy yet precise compositions, often based on the soundscapes of specific ecological sites, contrast with the pulsing momentum of pieces co-written with Allan Wilson and Heather Treadway. SDB employs drums, synthesizers, stringed instruments and field recordings to evoke daydreams of bright colors, dynamic movements, and wild places. SDB’s lineup includes Allan Wilson (ex-!!!), Lisa Schonberg (ex-Explode into Colors), Sara Lund (unwound/Nocturnal Habits), Pieter Hilton (Typhoon), Anthony Brisson (Psychomagic), and noise musician Marcus Fischer. DYNAMICS features performances by Heather Treadway (ex-Explode into Colors), Marisa Anderson, Brian Mumford (Dragging an Ox Through Water), Jose Medeles (1939 Ensemble), and Aaron Hartman (Old Time Relijun/Girls in Trouble). SDB has performed in various manifestations all over the U.S. West Coast, including Disjecta, The Quiet Music Festival, The Improvisation Summit of Portland, The Henry Gallery, MOCA Tucson, for PMOMA, and at events for Tom Tom Magazine, High Desert Test Sites and ESP TV. Schonberg has played with Tara Jane Oneil, John Niekrasz, Tuneyards, Erase Errata, Mirah, and Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, and has commissioned work for filmmaker Vanessa Renwick and a 19-drummer performance in New York City.