Jherek Bischoff With David Byrne at St. Ann’s Warehouse
Jherek Bischoff, a songwriter and arranger from Seattle, made his 2012 debut album, “Composed” (Brassland), with low-budget digital diligence. He built the album’s orchestral arrangements by recording one instrument at a time on his laptop. He then drew on some impressive contacts to add vocals, among themDavid Byrne, Caetano Veloso, Nika Danilova (better known as Zola Jesus), Zac Pennington of Parenthetical Girls and the indie-pop songwriter Mirah Zeitlyn, along with drumming from Greg Saunier of Deerhoof. They recognized a fellow pop experimenter.
Mr. Bischoff reassembled the songs in real time when he performed on Wednesday night at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, starting a two-night stand. Mr. Veloso was not on hand, but the other singers and Mr. Saunier were, along with the songwriter Sondre Lerche. The chamber orchestra Contemporaneous, conducted by David Bloom, played Mr. Bischoff’s lapidary arrangements of songs from“Composed” and from his guest songwriters. Mr. Bischoff himself played ukulele, often picking lacework patterns, or electric bass.
Mr. Bischoff works in territory explored recently by Sufjan Stevens and, decades back, by Van Dyke Parks. The orchestra is a full partner in his songs, conjuring bygone luxury, pastoral retreats or suspenseful reveries. Mr. Bischoff is fond of waltzes and hints of waltzes, of fluttering trills, of sweeping Romantic crescendos and of sighing violin countermelodies. “Eyes,” featuring Mr. Byrne, was a plush, string-laden bolero. In “Young & Lovely,” sung by Mr. Pennington and Sam Mickens, the strings had repeating, Philip Glass-like figures, but they rode a brisk hoedown beat and were answered by mocking trombone.
Mr. Bischoff listens widely. The concert included his arrangements of a piece by the Congolese band Konono No. 1, which plays electrified thumb pianos, and of a wistful 1960s pop-folk song, “Counting,” by Bob Lind. A new song with Ms. Zeitlyn, “Country of the Future,” had a breezy carnival