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New Music from Mary Lattimore & Jeff Ziegler

4 Sep 2014

Ballroom friends Mary Lattimore and Jeff Ziegler are releasing their first collaborative record this month! Read all about it- and their work in Marfa- in this interview with Bomb Magazine:

JZ: When we did the film scoring stuff in Marfa—we wrote a score to Philippe Garrel’s 1968 film Le révélateur—that actually changed things a lot, in terms of how we’d approach writing and improvising, too…

ML: Before, when we were playing together we’d do sets that were just making a lot of noise, and were very loud and abrasive. Focusing on making cool sounds rather than on melodic lines. Now we’re focusing less on purely cool sounds and are trying to incorporate that unhinged weirdness into something melodic and beautiful.

Slant of Light comes out September 23rd!

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Preview the New Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler Record

7 Aug 2014

Last year we were honored to host renowned Philadelphia producer Jeff Zeigler and harpist Mary Lattimore for our New Year’s film program. The two have joined together for a new album, Slant of Light, out September 22 on Thrill Jockey. Preview the track “The White Ballroon” above (courtesy of the Quietus).

Be sure to check out Mary’s solo record, The Withdawing Room, heard late one night on Marfa Public Radio while driving home from El Paso, and the inspiration for her performance in Marfa.

“The Repeater” talks to Jeff Zeigler and Mary Lattimore about “La Révélateur”, Marfa

26 Mar 2014

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The Crowley Theater, December 30, 2013. Photo by Lesley Brown.

On December 30, Jeff Zeigler and Mary Lattimore visited Marfa to score Ballroom’s fifth-annual New Year’s eve film: Philippe Garrel’s, La Révélateur (1968). Music blog, the Repeater, recently met with Zeigler and Lattimore to discuss their thoughts on west Texas, why they were attracted to La Révélateur, and what’s next for the duo.

Here is an excerpt from part I of the interview, where the musicians discuss creating the score:

Jeff: Despite our previous experience scoring films, the task was not easy. We started by just watching the film and trying to come up with themes, not totally sure what approach to take. While the film has some general recurring ideas—relationship conflict, emotional distance, and coming of age— this doesn’t totally translate into an obvious angle from a musical standpoint.

We decided to start from the most logical path: Improvising to the film as a whole, coming up with musical themes from that, and then building it into a cohesive idea.

Mary: ….We set up in Jeff’s studio and watched the film once through in silence, getting to know the characters. We pinpointed the family’s recurring activities. The film’s pace varies from almost excruciatingly slow, to measured and weary escape, and then to rapid, terrorized flight. So, one of our objectives was to create sounds that reacted instinctively to the movement or stillness in the film. Some of the most memorable scenes were of the couple running through the forest, of the boy moving through a tunnel, and of waves delivering swans elegantly to shore. The boy is the hero of the film, and carries with him a levity and playfulness that contrasts with the dark and troubled parents, and we wanted to focus on that, too.

When we watched the film a second time, Jeff and I jammed from a static drone, and then I started to play a slow melody as the boy walked through a lonely tunnel. This melody came back and morphed into different keys later on, whenever the slow walking reappeared. We created a few themes, and then took them to different places depending on the action. Jeff’s melodica was a really important voice in the melody. He would play a mournful ribbon over my repetitive figures, and the combination of instruments fit together very organically.

Some of the music was just texture, noise, lowered loops of fingernails scraping on harp strings and aggressive banging on stuff. Some of it was silence and negative space. I made Jeff take over the scene of the laughing boy in the bathroom because I had no idea what to do. Our notes were just pages of “Fur Coat = Sparse. Boy Walks Alone. Crucified Parents Theme F#. Silence – Wall Words. Slow Crucified Parents. Tunnel Bed Thick Gliss. Boring Bedroom 2. Fast Train Dm-Cmajor,” and on and on in our language.

Mary Lattimore on her “underwater, spacey harp” Le Révélateur score with Jeff Zeigler

27 Dec 2013

Mary Lattimore. Photo by J.L. Kidd.

Le Révélateur
with live score by Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler
December 30, 2013
Crowley Theater, Marfa, Texas
Doors at 7 pm ∙ Show at 7:30 pm
Free

Listen to Marfa Public Radio’s Talk at Ten radio interview with Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler, December 30, at 10 am on KRTS 93.5 FM or via their online stream.

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Celebrate the coming new year with Ballroom Marfa! For our fifth annual New Year’s film program, we’ll host a film screening of Philippe Garrel’s 1968 film Le Révélateur, with a live score by Philadelphia harpist Mary Lattimore and synth player Jeff Zeigler.

Mary Lattimore is a classically trained harpist whose collaborations have seen her working with such esteemed luminaries as Kurt Vile, Meg Baird, Thurston Moore, Ed Askew, Fursaxa, Jarvis Cocker and the Valerie Project. On her debut record, The Withdrawing Room, she found a worthy sideman in Philadelphia’s Jeff Zeigler, whose contemplative Korg echoes and holds a mood for Mary’s runs.

Zeigler has amassed quite the resume in recent years, between his space-rock outfit Arc in Round and his production work for local luminaries Kurt Vile, Purling Hiss and The War on Drugs. Zeigler’s also been expanding into the solo / collaborative experimental zone, playing solo shows with Lattimore and opening for English ambient artist Benoît Pioulard.

We talked with Lattimore about her interest in avant-garde film, her approach to improvisation and her plans for New Year’s Eve in Marfa.

How would you describe your music to new listeners?

I would describe it as sort of underwater, spacey harp through effects and delay, loops of decaying noise, droney sometimes, ethereal crushed-up diamond sounds. Jeff plays a Korg Mono/Poly synth and does cool textural stuff, plays beautiful, haunting melodica that sounds like a sad, distant train, and plays guitar, too. It’s gonna be fun. Our sets are usually all improvised, but with this one we are establishing themes and trying to be thoughtful about the changing scenes.

Why did you choose Le Révélateur for this project?

I consulted a very film-knowledgable friend. He suggested a few silent films and I checked them out and this one seemed to have some really memorable images. It’s a very strange film, very stunning, filmed in 1968.

What else can you tell us about the score you and Jeff will be performing?

It’ll be thought-out improvisation, with harp through a Line 6 looper and melodica, guitar, and synth. It’s a little over an hour long and will probably be a combination of melodic, hypnotic strings and maybe some harsh-ish noise. We want to be conscious of space, too, and also to incorporate minimal moments because the images are so affecting on their own.

Do you have any other experience doing film scores? Or with filmmaking in general?

I have done a few film projects. I was a member of this 11-person ensemble that composed an alternate score for the Czech New Wave Film Valerie and Her Week of Wonders in 2007. We traveled around with the original print of the film and performed in theaters, recorded it and Drag City put out the record. I learned a lot from the way we composed the music together. Recently, I did a soundtrack for a film that’s set in Iceland. I played on the score for the documentary Marina Abramovic – The Artist Is Present. The interaction between music and story/visuals, how they can complement each other to create a singular, memorable experience is something I really love. Jeff recently did an original live score for 2001: A Space Odyssey with our friend Dave (Nightlands) as a cool, creative project. Hopefully, our ideas will be true to the vibe of this gorgeous, weird film.

How does your background in improvisation inform this work?

Whenever I improvise or whenever Jeff and I improvise together, we’re always trying to paint a picture or to inspire a mood and often there’s a narrative structure where things get stirred up in the middle and resolve themselves by the end. But I think this one should contain a lot of in-the-minute decisions and negative space that will make it hopefully a unique performance that we can only half-predict, so that’s exciting.

What other projects are you working on?

Jeff and I are working on a Lattimore/Zeigler Duo record that we’re recording at his studio, Uniform Recording in Philly. I just played on the new Sharon Van Etten record, which will be out next year. We are going to try to repeat our Le Révélateur performance in Philadelphia, too, so that’s in the works. Got some upcoming gigs with my mom, who is also a harpist, and we’ll be playing carols to spread some holiday happiness. Lots of fun stuff ahead!

Is this your first trip to Marfa? What do you know of our town?

Yes, it’s my first visit to Marfa! I don’t know much, but I have a bunch of friends who have visited and who’ve fallen in love with it, so I’m psyched. Have read about the Marfa lights and the great art. I love that I get to spend New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in this far-away place – great way to start 2014. Jeff has been before while on tour with his band. Really looking forward to it!

What are your plans for Marfa and Far West Texas beyond your performance?

Hmm, I’m not sure. I guess to just relax, hang out, walk around. We are staying for a few extra days. I have a close friend Rachel who moved there recently. My pal Matt, who owns the excellent Harvest Records, is coming from Asheville, NC.

LE RÉVÉLATEUR Poster by Ross Cashiola

17 Dec 2013

Poster by Ross Cashiola

Just got in the Le Révélateur posters, hand-drawn by the multi-talented Ross Cashiola. This is our fifth (!) annual New Year’s film program, and we’re screening Philippe Garrel’s Le Révélateur (1968) with a live score by harpist Mary Lattimore and synth player Jeff Zeigler. That’s December 30 at 7 pm — more details here.

Also for your calendars: we’ll have a New Year’s Eve Open House at the gallery on December 31 from 4-6pm. Stop by for refreshments and a two-for-one poster sale (may I recommend the Le Révélateur poster, with perhaps this, this, this, this, this, or this?)

¡Feliz navidad y próspero año nuevo!

Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler Coming to Town!

8 Jul 2013

Mary Lattimore's harp. Courtesy of the artist.

Mary Lattimore’s harp, on the streets of Philadelphia. Courtesy of artist.

It’s a ways off, but we are beyond excited to announce that harpist Mary Lattimore and synth player and luminary producer Jeff Zeigler will head down here December 30 to play our annual New Year’s silent film/live score project. I first heard Mary’s work on Frosty’s MPR Dublab show and was instantly struck. We’ll have more details as we get within shouting distance of the event (or winter) (or even fall), but in the meantime, check out Mary’s work with Jeff here, and read this 2011 AV Club interview with Mary here:

The A.V. Club: Of all the instruments in the world, how did you choose the harp?

Mary Lattimore: My mom is a professional harpist, so I was always around harps—my mom’s harpist friends and the kids that took lessons from her, going along to her symphony rehearsals—and I was always listening to her work on parts and pieces, so the harp’s always been a part of my life. When it came time to learn how to play, I was 11 years old and I didn’t enjoy it so much at first, but the better I got the more it became my own. And now I have this 30-year story with this instrument that feels like a sister or something. It’s gone everywhere with me.

I think the harp is the most rewarding and complex, most beautiful and magical lush instrument. If you’re into it, you get over the paying for it: the longish car to take it around, the first-floor apartment you always have to have, the space it takes up, the 47 different strings, the maintenance, and the getting to know its layout and mechanics. You can’t have a glamorous manicure. It takes a long time to feel comfortable on it; you don’t feel masterful very quickly.

I think that if you find yourself drawn to the sound of the harp in particular, nothing else sounds like it, so it sort of picks you. You measure things out, and if your love for that sound comes out on top, there’s not really a question of harp versus guitar. It’s something weird and special to have in your life.”