Blender throws together a potent mixture of energetic works by Minnesota-based composer Justin Merritt, performed by athletic pianist Matthew McCright. The Blender Project, which includes several pieces scattered throughout the album, arose from a simple question: what kind of music would sound good in a bar attached to a bowling alley? Inspired by a concert at Minneapolis’ Bryant-Lake Bowl -- a restaurant, bowling alley and performance space rolled into one -- Merritt began working on a series of high potency pieces for amplified piano with live electronic manipulation, creating duos between the musician at the piano and the musician at the laptop. The resulting music easily accommodates the noise floor of the venue or at least blends in when it doesn’t.
As the record unfolds, it intercuts these often improvisational duets with more fingers-on-the-keyboard works, like Album Leaves -- a suite that charts the course of a year from spring to spring -- andPreludes for Piano -- the oldest collection on the album, dating from Merritt’s schooldays at Indiana. What emerges is a picture of a composer deeply engaged with the possibilities of the piano, in both traditional and boundary-breaking ways, and a musician deftly handling the diverse demands of that composer’s pieces.
Includes Album Leaves, Cube Dance, 5 Preludes, and pieces from the Blender Project.