Video Premiere: Alarm Will Sound Performs “Winners” by Scott Johnson

Today’s video premiere features Alarm Will Sound performing Scott Johnson‘s “Winners” from their 2018 album Mind Out of Matter. Directed by Polish artist Kasia Nalewajka, “Winners” is an animated exploration of memes

Mind Out of Matter samples the recorded voice of American philosopher Daniel C. Dennett discussing ideas from his book Breaking the Spell (Religion as a Natural Phenomenon). Composer Scott Johnson uses these samples as the foundation for examining religion from an atheist point of view.

Here’s what animator and director Kasia Nalewajka had to say about the album:

“I was inspired by Dennett’s suggestion that the idea of God evolved in the collective consciousness in the same way that plants and animals have evolved in their respective environments…According to Dennett, the most unusual ideas are the most memorable ones, so I wanted to use the most striking–hopefully even humorous–representations of ideas to create a visually arresting short film. I sifted through thousands of images online to create my different ‘memes,’ and they all took shape gradually until I was ready to go ahead with animation. As it took shape I found the music was helping to tell the story, the lyrics often creating surprising clarity in the world I’d created.”

Mind Out of Matter is available from iTunes, Amazon, and Tzadik, John Zorn’s record label.

About Alarm Will Sound

Alarm Will Sound is “one of the most vital and original ensembles on the American music scene” (The New York Times). A 20-member band committed to innovative performances and recordings of today’s music, they have established a reputation for performing demanding music with energetic virtuosity. With classical skill and unlimited curiosity, Alarm Will Sound takes on music from a wide variety of styles. “Stylistically omnivorous and physically versatile” (The Log Journal), their repertoire comes from around the world, and ranges from the arch-modernist to the pop-influenced. Since its inception, Alarm Will Sound has been associated with composers at the forefront of contemporary music. The group itself includes many composer-performers, which allows for an unusual degree of insight into the creation and performance of new work.

Alarm Will Sound is the resident ensemble at the Mizzou International Composers Festival. Held each July at the University of Missouri in Columbia, the festival features eight world premieres by early-career composers. In 2013-14, Alarm Will Sound served as artists-in-residence at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Alarm Will Sound may be heard on thirteen recordings, including its most recent, Omnisphere, and the premiere recording of Steve Reich’s Radio Rewrite. Acoustica, their genre-bending, critically-acclaimed album, features live-performance arrangements of music by electronica guru Aphex Twin.

About Kasia Nalewajka

Kasia was born in Poland and studied Natural Sciences at the University of Warsaw. Combining her bizarre curiosity towards animals and an interest in illustration, she developed a passion for animated films. She mastered her puppet animation skills in the famous film studio Se-Ma-For (Lodz, Poland) where she later directed an award winning music video Sponge Ideas (co-directed by Paulina Szewczyk). After moving to the UK, she studied Directing Animation at the National Film and Television School. Her graduation film Pineapple Calamari was screened at festivals around the world and won multiple awards. Currently she’s working on her next animated short. She lives in London.

About Scott Johnson

Composer Scott Johnson has been a pioneering voice in the new relationship being forged between the classical tradition and the popular culture that surrounds it. An early advocate of using rock instruments and technology in scored composition, he has appeared as a virtuosic electric guitarist in many of his pieces. His early work introduced the idea of instrumental writing based on sampled speech, and later works continue to develop his musical gene-splicing, blending complex and intertwined chamber music with a rock band’s hall-filling wall of sound.

Underneath the music lies a basic insight: the evolution of classical composition has always been shaped by its environments, and living composers are remaining true to that legacy when they draw on the ever-changing ecosystem of our own popular musics. Speaking the languages of contemporary culture will help us create a picture of our times, as composers of the past did with theirs. Johnson’s music has been commissioned and performed internationally by ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet, the Bang On A Can All-Stars, and Alarm Will Sound, as well as his own groups. His three decades of effort have been recognized with numerous grants and awards, including a Koussevitsky commission, a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 2015 American Academy of Arts and Letters Fellowship.