August 23, 2019
by Jessi Roti
“Seeing what Third Coast Percussion had done with these pieces was magical.” – Devonté Hynes
Singer-songwriter Dev Hynes has become one of the millennial generation’s most influential, artistic Renaissance men. From his own efforts as Lightspeed Champion and later Blood Orange, his hipster-approved, synth-pop/R&B outfit known for songs such as “Champagne Coast” and “Augustine,” to writing and producing for artists like Solange, Sky Ferreira, Carly Rae Jepsen and numerous others, forays into ballet, film and modernist art — Hynes has shown time and again that his creative interests and musical acumen cannot be contained.
But would you think the performer was going to follow-up 2018′s massively compelling “Negro Swan” and this year’s “Angel’s Pulse” mixtape with an album of classical music?
Hynes is doing it in collaboration with Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion. The ensemble, best known as the ensemble-in-residence at the University of Notre Dame and for its educational initiatives, won the Grammy Award for “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance” in 2017.
From start to finish, [TCP member Robert] Dillon says the recording process took about three months — early spring through late summer/early fall of last year. Hynes composed the pieces in a Digital Audio Workshop and sequenced the music using whatever sounds “were in his ears,” Dillon says. He’d send the recordings to TCP, and they make choices on which sounds could translate to their instruments and what sounds they can recreate in others ways.
Of each work’s evolution through the back-and-forth, Hynes is quoted in the album’s press release as saying, “This was the first time I’ve written music that I’ve never played, and I love that. It’s something I’ve always been striving to get to. Seeing what Third Coast Percussion had done with these pieces was magical.”
“He was open and into the collaboration process from the very beginning,” Dillon continues. “The first time we started sending him real recordings of stuff, it was like ‘Ok this is gonna work out really well.’ He sent really nice, supportive feedback. I think, before, he was sort of unsure of what to expect exactly. But I think at that moment, he was even more trusting and really excited about where it was going.”