Happy Place is a NYC-based band of two singers, two guitarists, and two drummers, performing music composed by bandleader and drummer Will Mason. Their 2020 album Tendrils (Exit Stencil Recordings) will be presented here live for the first time.
Tendrils expands on themes from the band’s debut album Northfield (2016): it is a tense and disquieting sound world marked by microtonally retuned guitars; skittering, irregular meters; and crystalline vocal lines. The band weaves a strange, surreal fabric, and the performances are virtuosic without feeling sanitized. The music is suffused with nervousness and panic. It is a reflection of an era defined by anxiety, instability, despair; and of efforts to excavate fragile moments of beauty from the muck.
Charlotte Mundy — Voice
Gelsey Bell — Voice
Andrew Smiley — Guitar
Dan Lippel — Guitar
Kate Gentile — Drums
Will Mason — Drums, Electronics, Compositions
Happy Place is a NYC-based band of two singers, two guitarists, and two drummers, performing music composed by bandleader and drummer Will Mason. Their music draws on microtonal guitar tunings, irregular meters, and angular, virtuosic improvisation. It is equal parts Glenn Branca and James Blood Ulmer; Lightning Bolt and Gerard Grisey.
Tendrils (2020, Exit Stencil Recordings) is the follow-up to their debut album Northfield (2016, Exit Stencil Recordings), which was praised by Bandcamp Daily as “jittery, manic, and restless,” and by the New York Times for “succeed[ing] at fusing experimental rock and chamber music.” The band’s line-up includes Charlotte Mundy and Gelsey Bell on vocals, Andrew Smiley and Dan Lippel on guitar, and Kate Gentile and Will Mason on drums.
Charlotte Mundy specializes in music that is new, daring and sublime. She has been called a “daredevil with an unbreakable spine” (SF Classical Voice), and her performances have been described as “an oasis of radiant beauty” (NYTimes) and “marvellously appealing” (The Log). Mundy was awarded the Jan DeGaetani prize for contemporary song performance from the 2019 Joy in Singing Competition, and has performed with the Resonant Bodies Festival, BAM New Wave Festival and New York Festival of Song. She has appeared as a soloist at the 92nd Street Y, Metropolitan Museum, Park Avenue Armory and the Library of Congress and given critically acclaimed renditions of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, Boulez’s Le Marteau sans Maître, Feldman’s Three Voices and Messiaen’s Poémes Pour Mí.
Gelsey Bell is a singer, a songwriter, and a scholar. She has been described by the New York Times as “one of New York’s most adventurous musicians” and the “future of experimental vocalism.” She performs regularly as an vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, culling from a wide range of techniques and styles to create her own performance works, to literally voice those of contemporary composers, and to explore improvisation.
Guitarist Daniel Lippel, called an “exciting soloist” (New York Times), “precise and sensitive” (Boston Globe), and a “formidable guitarist” (Chicago Magazine), enjoys a diverse career ranging through solo and chamber performances and recordings to collaborations in diverse contexts. Highlights of his recent solo performances include the Le Poisson Rouge (New York), New York Classical Guitar Society’s Salon Series, Sinus Ton Festival in Germany, University of Texas at San Antonio, Lawrence University (Wisconsin), and the Cleveland International Guitar Festival (CIM). He has been the guitarist for the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) since 2005. As a chamber musician, Lippel has performed at the Macau Music Festival (China), Teatro Amazonas (Manaus, Brazil), Ojai Festival, Acht Brücken Festival (Cologne, Germany), and the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, and as a guest with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, New York New Music Ensemble, Either/Or Ensemble, and counter)induction, among others. Lippel is co-founder and director of New Focus Recordings, and has also recorded for Bridge, Kairos, Wergo, Innova, Albany, Starkland, and Tzadik. He received his DMA from MSM, under David Starobin’s guidance.
Andrew Smiley is a guitarist and improviser based in NYC. Musicians and bands he performs with include Little Women, Chris Pitsiokos Quartet, Feast of the Epiphany, Jason Nazary, Horse Torso, and the Will Mason Ensemble. His music has been described as “compact, intimate, and raw” (Free Jazz Collective) and “playfully warped” (Marginal Brevity). His most recent solo album, Looming as Light Torn, was released in 2020.
Kate Gentile is a Brooklyn-based drummer and composer. As a leader, Kate released Mannequins (Skirl Records) in 2017 with Jeremy Viner, Matt Mitchell and Adam Hopkins. Her current band, Find Letter X, features Mitchell, Viner, and Kim Cass on bass. Kate has composed for and recorded with International Contemporary Ensemble and has a septet recording of her 13-movement composition “biome ii” to be released early 2022. She has also been commissioned by Adult Swim. Kate also plays in Matt Mitchell’s projects Phalanx Ambassadors (Pi Recordings 2019) and A Pouting Grimace (Pi Recordings 2017), Dustin Carlson’s septet Air Ceremony (Out Of Your Head Records 2018), and Will Mason’s Happy Place. Kate has also worked with Michaël Attias, Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, Cloud Becomes Your Hand, Steve Coleman, Dave Douglas, Marty Ehrlich, Miles Okazaki, God Is My Co-Pilot, Helado Negro, Chris Speed, Chris Tordini, Anna Webber, and John Zorn.
Will Mason (b. 1988) is a composer, performer, and music scholar. His eclectic musical and scholarly interests comprise avant-garde jazz, modern composition, and electronic music. The New York Times has praised his music as being “experimental yet still catchy,” and the Boston Globe wrote that his music “balances improvisation and composition, and is shot through with asymmetrical melodies and grooves, grinding harmonies, and atmospheric bouts of stillness.” His music appears on New Amsterdam Records and Exit Stencil Recordings. Musicians Mason has performed with include Ned Rothenberg, Anna Webber, Matt Mitchell, Leila Bordreuil, Elias Stemeseder, Greg Chudzik, Miles Okazaki, and Marc Hannaford. Mason is assistant professor of music at Wheaton College in Norton MA; and holds a PhD in music theory from Columbia University.