Deerhoof & Dal Niente - Balter / Saunier

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Release Date: April 29, 2016

Balter / Saunier is the new collaborative album from Deerhoof ("the best band in the world” - Pitchfork) and Chicago-based 22-piece contemporary music group Dal Niente (“a model of what contemporary music needs" - The Chicago Tribune). The album features works by Brazilian-born composer Marcos Balter and arrangements by Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier of his band’s songs.



Deerhoof and Dal Niente first crossed paths in 2012 when they shared a bill at Chicago’s Millennium Park. The two groups bonded instantly over their shared sensibilities and began a long-term collaboration, performing together when possible and inspiring each other along the way. Balter / Saunier is a culmination of these explorations, an intricate intermingling of styles that captures each group at its most adventurous and encapsulates what it means to create, perform and listen to music in 2016.

Despite the scope and scale of the collaboration (with more than 30 people involved), the recording process was a remarkably DIY effort. Balter / Saunier is self-produced, mixed and edited; composers session-produced their pieces; and engineer Dan Nichols cleverly turned a busy downtown ballroom into a treated recording environment. Everyone spent a lot of time listening – to the music and each other – and it shows: the final product is the very definition of a meeting of the minds, a perfect distillation of several (highly developed) artistic voices.


Balter / Saunier consists of two longer works, one each by Balter and Saunier, with one shorter piece by Balter between the two. The album opens with Balter’s seven-part piece “meltDown Upshot,” a magnetic mix of heady beats, catchy pop, absorbing post-minimalism, angular melodies and fireworks of free jazz written specifically for the two groups’ collaboration. Next is “Pois que nada que dure, ou que durando,” a poem by Fernando Pessoa that translates to "For that nothing lasts, or that lasting” in English, a dissonance-tinged work that plays like a sonic realization of Dalí’s “Persistence of Memory.” The album closes with Saunier's “Deerhoof Chamber Variations,” a work for Dal Niente that uses Deerhoof's catalogue as source material. Rather than simply re-arranging Deerhoof songs by rote, Saunier flexes his compositional background to create a meditation on the group’s discography.  Familiar melodies – set amongst grand, expansive arrangements – drift in and out of view as if from a refracted memory.



Press and News:

Seth Colter Walls: 50 Favorite Albums from 2016 - #8

Avant Music News: Picks of the Week - May 28, 2016

I Care If You Listen: "riveting and endearing...rarely do such distinct musical voices come together to make a perfect hybrid..."

Glide Magazine: "...a compelling break from the norm, further proof that insurgency is rarely subtle."

PopMatters: "Not one forgettable moment surfaces; not one skippable track presents itself in this era of impatient listeners waiting for the memorable or gut-punching banger."

Cacophony Magazine: "something incredibly genial about this album...I can only hope for more similar collaborations in the future."

Second Inversion: "a treat to hear two very different musical groups jam together and take rare sonic risks"

Chicago Reader: "...doesn't attempt to separate aesthetic approaches, instead happily embracing both"

Textura: "adventurous and original...flatters both parties in presenting an inspired amalgamation of their individual strengths"

Pitchfork: Avant-rockers Deerhoof team with the elite contemporary classical outfit Ensemble Dal Niente for a weird and wonderful musical exchange

Q2 Music: Album of the Week - "unstoppable...flawlessly performed and gorgeously recorded new release"

WNYC's New Sounds: A New Breed of Art-Rock

Classicalite: "a sense of depth...certainly a departure for both artists"

Brooklyn Vegan: Deerhoof & Ensemble Dal Niente ready collaborative LP - "...a haunting, arresting listen..."

Stereogum: Dal Niente & Deerhoof – "'Cherubim' sounds like what might happen if Deerhoof tried making orchestral jazz...really good"

Pitchfork: Deerhoof and Dal Niente Announce Collaborative LP Balter / Saunier, Share "Cherubim"