Nick Didkovsky, electric guitar, laptop; Thomas Dimuzio, sampling, live sampling, and processing; ARTE Quartett: Beat Hofstetter, soprano and baritone saxophone; Sascha Armbruster, alto and baritone saxophone; Andrea Formenti, tenor saxophone; Beat Kappeler, baritone saxophone
Nick Didkovsky (born 1958) is an accomplished composer, virtuoso guitarist, and computer programmer who works on the cusp between the concert hall and the rock-and-roll club-territory that is only now beginning to be taken seriously. Didkovsky's compositions are rigorously conceived, yet leave plenty of room for spontaneous input. He has tapped into what one might describe as a typically American way of making music-iconoclastic and formalist without being overly uptight. Combining complex rhythms, harmonies, and textures with the visceral energy of rock music he creates work that is cutting-edge (albeit more Downtown than Uptown), rigorous, and subversive. His employment of asymmetrical meters, gratuitous dissonance, and tonally ambiguous harmonies rubs against the pop sensibility implied by the compositional forms and instrumentation with which he works. The sense of compositional and technological inventiveness in Didkovsky's music bears resemblance to that of other maverick composer-hacker-performers such as Salvatore Martirano, Larry Polansky, David Rosenboom, and George Lewis.
Didkovsky's music reflects current trends and practices including the use of live, interactive computer-assistance, genre jumping, and blurring the distinctions between highbrow and lowbrow. Although the accoutrements of Western tonality are never far off, his musical sensibility allows for some radical departures from the stock-and-trade of tonality. Didkovsky is attracted to the ambiguous boundaries between human-generated and software-generated materials. Ice Cream Time (2003) is a multi-movement piece scored for saxophone quartet, electric guitar, and live electronics. As might be expected, Ice Cream Time embraces, or engages with, a wide range of influences and material contrasts. Nine of the movements feature live sampling by Thomas Dimuzio, whose job was to capture and process the saxophone and guitar sounds in real time, using his Kurzweil K2600RS. Because the unaltered signals are also heard, a rich and subtle texture is produced.