Handful of Smoke is the collaborative duo/two-piece band comprised of composer/performers Sam Scranton and Ellen McSweeney. Our first record—a collection of contemplative music for found percussion, tabletop violin, and voices—will be released in 2017.
Our first piece together, MIMIC, premiered at the 2015 Omaha Under the Radar Festival, and was reprised in Chicago at Comfort Station, presented by Parlour Tapes+. We have also performed at New Music at the Green Mill, and on the FLAK Performance Series at Intuit Gallery.
MIMIC is an evening-length musical rite for tabletop violin, percussion, spoken voices, cassette tape, and electronics. Audiences at the 2015 Omaha Under the Radar Festival described the piece as "cozy," "mesmerizing," and "a little bit goth." The conductor and writer Michael Lewanski described MIMIC as "a work that feels possible only as a result of [the duo's] particular and uniquely wonderful personalities and experiences."
We develop work together over long period of sonic experimentation together: a process which constantly creates new sounds, new text, new combinations of elements, and new techniques for amplified tabletop violin. In performance, we face off at a low ceremonial table, highly attuned to each other’s every movement. The violin -- an easy symbol of refinement and the Classical canon -- is laid flat on the table, reduced to its most basic physical elements, and played with homemade tools ranging from metal screws to rubber hammers. The table, covered with wood, metal, and stone, becomes an instrument in itself, played by four highly integrated hands.
- Read my blog post about the piece's premiere in Omaha.
- Read my 2014 review of Sam's piece DETRITIVORE.
- Check out Sam's Soundcloud page.