Photo by Jeremy Popelka.
TYLER DAMON (b. 1987, Cincinnati, OH USA) is a Midwestern American artist whose work aims to reveal obscured, mercurial narratives via drums/percussion & free improvisation.
In addition to solo work, Tyler is involved in extended duo exhibitions with guitarist Tashi Dorji and saxophonist Dave Rempis. Building upon the foundation of these pairings, the three formed the dedicated working trio Kuzu in 2017. Other recent outfits also include a Chicago triad featuring Gerrit Hatcher & Joshua Abrams, the Mars Williams-led quartet, Exit Plan, alongside Brian Sandstrom & Steve Marquette, and a startling trio with NYC improvisers Sam Weinberg & Henry Fraser. Tyler is also often found drumming with Chicago-via-Houston guitarist Eli Winter and has been recognized for his work with the chameleonic Circuit Des Yeux.
Tyler has toured extensively in North America, Europe, Vietnam, & Colombia and is also regularly engaged with other artists, musicians and heads of various sorts across the American Midwest. His recorded output has been offered by a myriad of labels including Family Vineyard, Astral Spirits, Aerophonic, Trost, Magnetic South, Feeding Tube, Drag City, Matador, Auris Apothecary, Sophomore Lounge, Amalgam, Medium Sound, Long Gone Sound System, Let’s Pretend, Park 70 & his own Yoke (currently on a temporary hiatus).
“Damon is the tenacious force that keeps the band boiling with his everywhere-at-once presence and impressive stamina. He also has a way of injecting a tight swing or quick-witted groove in the middle of a firestorm that leaves listeners tapping their toes or shaking their heads like, ‘how did he do that?'” – Taylor McDowell, The Free Jazz Collective
“…his blending of scrape disciplines, stream-of-conscious phrasings and subtle tribal rolls is beatifically disorienting and hypnotic and evocative of animal rutting and fighting and writhing…” – Jacob An Kittenplan, Cassette Gods
“Damon draws so many sounds out of his kit so quickly and with such intention and imagination it’s hard to imagine it coming from one person.” – Isaac Olson, Dusted Magazine
“Damon doesn’t downplay his rock roots in his machine-gun sallies (…) but he carefully modulates his approach to maintain meaningful interactions—and he can dispense with fixed patterns at the drop of a hat.” – Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
“…his solo showcase […] shows that he can play dynamically, fading up from near nothingness to passages where his surging attack fills all available space like a deploying airbag.” – Bill Meyer, Wire Magazine #363
“Damon has this way of loosely making his way around the drum kit – almost circling it before an attack…” – Dusty Groove
“[Tyler is] the up-and-coming young drummer in the Midwest and a voice that will be active for years to come.” – Darin Gray
TASHI DORJI / TYLER DAMON
Tashi Dorji & Tyler Damon @ The Hideout, Chicago, IL, March 18th, 2018. Photo by Julia Dratel.
Tashi Dorji (electric guitar) & Tyler Damon (drums/percussion) reside in separate locales but have come together from a place of mutual admiration. The pair has scarcely spoken of intention regarding their music yet conjure a sound which suggests the familiar and the non-idiomatic at once. Flashes of ecstatic intensity, blurred timbral lines, fractal repetition, noir-ish, cinematic mystery and inclinations toward free play hint that the two are pleased to follow a winding path to destinations yet unknown.
“Most of the magic in Dorji and Damon’s cooperative is kinetic, as the duo’s ability to pump blood into the music’s veins persists through stretches both frantic and subdued (…) the pair are happy to synchronize their chromium hues into a two-wheeled perpetual motion machine.” – Marc Masters on To Catch A Bird In A Net Of Wind, Wire Magazine #440
“Dorji and Damon aren’t merely exchanging ideas; they seem to be trying to realize one sound, with what frequently feels like one mind. As such, while these performances are undoubtedly chaotic, they never feel purposeless (…) Words like telepathy and empathy are often used to describe group improvisation but those words, revealing a gap between players, feel inadequate for describing the singular, egoless, sonorous mass created here. Unlike a lot of live improvisation, this record documents self-negation, not self indulgence.” – Isaac Olson on Leave No Trace, Dusted Magazine
“Although the duo are playing in real time, they manage to embed action within action […] The music is a bit like a set of Russian nesting dolls that aspires to challenge succession rather than confirm it.” – Bill Meyer on Both Will Escape & Live At The Spot+1, Wire Magazine #393
“Together, the combination of Dorji’s high-end metallic power-tool skree and Damon’s manic-but-earthy hippie clomping are a perfect pairing. Each has a musical spoon in the other guy’s soup to begin with, resulting in a collaboration that seems almost brotherly. […] I’d say expect great things, but they’re already happening.” – Tom Burris on Both Will Escape, The Free Jazz Collective
March 12th 2020, Elastic Arts, Chicago. Photo by Ricardo E Adame.
Kuzu is a hard-charging but patient trio that came together in the fall of 2017, after saxophonist Dave Rempis, a stalwart of the Chicago improvised music scene, worked with both Tashi Dorji (guitar) and Tyler Damon (drums) individually as part of a lengthy solo tour of the U.S. that he undertook in the spring of that year. Dorji and Damon’s work as a guitar/percussion duo has become well-known, a highly refined and specific language developed through relentless touring and recording over the last few years, with a sound that straddles improvised music, rock, and any number of as-yet-undefined territories. These two provide an incredibly fresh take on the possibilities inherent to spontaneous composition. Superimposing Rempis into this mix was a logical next step after the relationships they’d forged individually.
Musically, these three create a highly focused pallet of sounds. At times, spacious gestures carve up the canvas with the austerity of a calligrapher, while at others those sparse gestures build into an unstoppable tsunami of energy. Those waves are never impulsive or impetuous though, they ebb and flow logically and patiently out of simple and clearly defined sources. This trio pursues every gesture with tenacity, passing them back and forth until they’ve explored every facet of an idea.
“This is (…) a trio endowed with self-discipline. Their mastery (…) is on full display, evidenced by the trio’s ability to rein in the chaos. The music is hypnotic and extremely compelling.” – Mark Corroto on All Your Ghosts In One Corner, All About Jazz
“On the initial run-through, it is exhausting, feeling like an immersion course in an extra-terrestrial language (…) Purple Dark Opal is for audacious listeners and it isn’t like anything else.” – Karl Ackermann on Purple Dark Opal, All About Jazz
“…legit insane (…) it sounds as if they are playing for their lives.” – Doug Mosurock on Hiljaisuus, Still-Single
TYLER DAMON / DAVE REMPIS
Live at Popelka Trenchard Glass Gallery, Sturgeon Bay, WI, June 2019. Photo by Jeremy Popelka.
GERRIT HATCHER / JOSHUA ABRAMS / TYLER DAMON
Live at Elastic Arts, September 2021. Photo by Ricardo Adame.
Tyler Damon / Darin Gray duo, live at the Kerr Foundation, St. Louis, MO. Photo by Mabel Suen.
Duo Oninbo (Tyler Damon & Darin Gray) had their first earthly encounter in early 2012 and patiently began to develop a rapport over several live dates in the American Midwest, eventually culminating in their first recording session in Darin’s hometown of Edwardsville, IL in the Autumn of 2014. The result was Oninbo, a recording that has, perhaps unintentionally, evoked an abstract narrative of the ‘Implacable Man’ trope, conjuring feelings of foreboding doom, exhausting, cathartic intensity and eerie calm via electro-acoustic free-improvisation and an aggregate of disparate personal influences. This drums/percussion and electric bass/percussion duo is the latest of several such collaborations for Darin, having performed for many years as On Fillmore (with Glenn Kotche) and Chikamorachi (with Chris Corsano); However, Damon and Gray confidently stand apart in the present with a nod toward the future. Their second release, “For Four,” premiered in mid-November, 2015.
THEE OPEN SEX
Thee Open Sex duo at Kafka, Hồ Chí Minh City, Việt Nam, January 4th, 2017. Photo by Nguyễn Minh Hoàng.
The apparent incongruities of the Open Sex controversy have been accounted for by a purely transcendental explanation. There is evidence that early writers were acquainted with such a supposition – which, however, was popularized and espoused by later adherents. This theory asserts that Open Sex actually possessed all the supernatural powers with which they were credited; that they were in reality citizens of two worlds: that, while they had physical bodies for expression on the material plane, they were capable, through the instructions they received through their union, of functioning in a mysterious ethereal body not subject to the limitations of time or distance.