Scrap Arts Music returns to Edison March 20-21 for Ovations Series
The ziggurat drum. The nail violin. The gong array with artillery shells. The chariot of choir.
If Mad Max and Dr. Seuss started a band, it might look something like Scrap Arts Music. The Vancouver-based percussion ensemble is internationally known for building wild, kinetic, one-of-a-kind instruments from recycled and salvaged industrial materials.
At 8 p.m. Friday, March 20, Scrap Arts Music will return to Washington University in St. Louis as part of the Edison Ovations Series. In addition, at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 21, the troupe will perform a special all-ages matinee as part of Edison’s ovations for young people series.
Scrap Arts Music is the brainchild of Gregory Kozak, a composer and avant-garde jazz musician who learned the art of welding in order to build the group’s strangely life-like instruments — or “creatures,” as he calls them.
Hunting through junkyards, shipyards and demolition sites near his home in British Columbia, Kozak spends hours searching for scrap metal and other industrial cast-offs. To date, he has fabricated more than 145 instruments, ranging from the spinning Ziggurat Drum to the Junk-on-a-Stick cymbal tree to the 13-string Mojo, which incorporates a sailboard mast, steel bowls, balloons, wood and aluminum scraps.
Other examples include the Chime Array, made from artillery shells and stainless steel scrap; the Gong Array, made from boat railings and monkey bar “seconds”; and the Plankophone, a kind of marimba made from wooden railings pulled out of a condemned building.
Meanwhile, the group’s music fuses world and pop sensibilities, reflecting Kozak’s training with master musicians such as Pandit Pran Nath, Abraham Adzenyah and Steve Berrios. Each composition is tailored to the unique properties of the instruments on which it is performed, and to the innovative sticking techniques developed by Kozak and his fellow performers.
The resulting show is at once improvisational and highly choreographed — equal parts drumming, theater and dance.