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The Music Box Closes 

Alex Woodward on the history and legacy of the Music Box, the art installation that's made avant-garde music for nearly a year

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  Japanether's Vanek emerges from the percussion lair, and bassist Matt Reilly descends from the "River House" where he plucked at the bathtub bass.

click to enlarge Thurston Moore and Rob Cambre prepare for a recording session - PHOTO BY JOSE FERNANDES

  "There's a lot of good culture going on here, a strong work ethic," Vanek says. "A community of people actually doing something — that's attractive to be around. When we're playing, we're playing the same way a child would play. It's for no other reason than to get out of yourself and participate, something that the end result is fun. A lot of musicians and players lose that idea. .... You should be able to play and have fun with limited means. That's the challenge this Music Box provides."

Days before Quintron unveiled his final compositions with the current iteration of his Shantytown Orchestra, artists from The Music Box gather one last time to revisit their creation.

  "There's something about this space that turns adults into children and children into musicians," Pennington says. "There's really nothing else like that."

  Curry says the challenge in building Dithyrambalina, what she says will be a musical "diminutive mansion," is holding on to the "strange, magical feeling" that kept The Music Box alive. Whether that will include a cathedralesque frame, or dozens of musicians playing simultaneously in a partial amphitheater, or serving as a pitstop and meeting point for street parades is yet to be determined.

  "I want to build this kind of classical yet spontaneous and newly envisioned Victorian, New Orleans mansion," she tells Gambit. "Something so it's really both a gargantuan and very human scale."

click to enlarge Ross Farbe of Native America performs the "Gamelatron," inspired by the Balinese vibraphone-like gamelan and controlled by an arcade console. - PHOTO BY JOSE FERNANDES
  • Photo by Jose Fernandes
  • Ross Farbe of Native America performs the "Gamelatron," inspired by the Balinese vibraphone-like gamelan and controlled by an arcade console.

  When asked what will happen to the structures and instruments at The Music Box once it closes, Martin surveys the village. The gamelan, she says, or some version of it, will likely move into Dithyrambalina. Quintron suggests it could be part of an elaborate doorbell system, with different ringtones for each room. The possibilities seem endless.


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