terrain traversed by this ensemble spans
the continents and the ages. Masque
blends musical genres from around the world; combining ethnic/world themes with
western popular as well as classical musics. The ensemble is intent on creating
unusual musical fusions rather than simply recreating pure indigenous music.
The resulting cultural mid-air collisions have often been labeled filmic
Masque is a distillation of the ethnomusicological fascinations which core members Brent Meyer and Chris Willshire have explored for nearly a decade. Although the pair began as classically trained musicians, they have since ventured onto unorthodox musical paths. The recent addition of multi-percussionist Rick Striker further enriches the variations and unique nature of Masque. As a former member of the internationally renowned group Ring Of Myth (Kenesis), Striker brings inventiveness and incredible technical mastery into the fold. Additionally, James Payfer has recently signed on to add still denser layers of percussive mayhem after a respite from his former project, the acclaimed goth/industrial band 29 Died (Prospect).
lyrics, often melancholic or impressionistic, range from highly structured prose
to abstract rantings. “My
personal demons and vexations are laid bare for all to see,” confesses Meyer,
“the evolution of my work, which was didactic and stoic in it’s early
incarnations, is now more emotionally expressive and revealing.”
Masque alternates dense, heavy orchestrations with spartan, minimalistic
passages. From their beginnings as traditional rock instrumentalists, Meyer and
Willshire ravenously acquired and taught themselves numerous lesser-known
instruments from around the world. Unusual instrumental pairings are a hallmark;
such as Chinese dulcimer with electric guitar, Javanese gamelan with Chapman
Stick, or even saz and synth. The members of Masque view the process as a
marriage of high-tech and no-tech with a strong belief that any instrumental
means to an end is acceptable, as long as the resulting musical blend conveys
the desired emotion. The studio is viewed as an instrument and it factors
heavily in how the music is conceived.
Despite the esoterics, the emphasis is unquestionably on memorable melodies and songs.
visually very striking in live performance due to the expanded instrumentation.
Most ethnic instruments are played by the band themselves.
Occasionally a sample of indigenous music is incorporated, yet Masque is
always mindful of the context of the original piece.
The dramatic live stage set-up bears little resemblance to a mainstream
concert, but instead gives the feel of an eclectic world-instrument museum.
The live line up is:
Brent Meyer - vocals, guitars, keyboards, dumbek, talking drum, sourouba,
thai flute, gu zheng, baglama saz, soprano & tenor recorder, irish bouzouki, programming
Chris Willshire- Chapman Stick, electric bass, xian qin, keyboards, didgeridoo,
Moroccan finger drums, crotales , da ban di, alto recorder, programming
Rick Striker- electronic & acoustic drums, slit drum, djembes, balaphone, tar, crotales, vocals
James Payfer - djembe, dumbek, bodhran, duf, tar, low D whistle, electronic percussion, talking drum, didgeridoo, programming