The Vex Collection

Imagining alternate pasts, presents, and futures, The Vex Collection uses unheard-of combinations of traditional instruments, newly devised musical contraptions, and a philosophy of mad-scientific experimentation in their exploration of uncharted sonic space.

Led by composer-performers Vicente Hansen (drums, gongs, electronics) and Mat Muntz (bass, Croatian bagpipe, homemade woodwinds), their self-titled debut features avant-garde highland bagpiper Matthew Welch and Korean woodwind virtuoso gamin, who contribute their unique abilities and conceptions to an intricate whirlwind of sound. The project grew from Mat and Vicente’s shared fascination with the double reed, an ancient musical technology developed by virtually every culture on Earth in order to produce loud, brilliant, and beautifully intense sounds. In their collaboration with Welch and gamin, they found surprising affinities between the musical worlds of Scotland and Korea, both of which feature double reed instruments as central cultural icons. On The Vex Collection, the striking presences of these traditional instruments are not softened or altered so as to better blend with one another; they are allowed to clash thunderously in one moment and synthesize miraculously in the next, imagining some forgotten past where these sounds could have emerged as part of an organic folk tradition.

The addition of new, experimental instruments into the mix extends this history into a speculative future: one in which the primacy of the double reed never waned, and the most compelling sounds of the 21st century – distorted guitars, aggressive synthesizers, detailed microtonality – are produced via breath and vibrating blades rather than circuitry. This volatile energy is directed and shaped from below by the rhythm section chemistry of Muntz and Hansen. Longtime collaborators in the New York jazz scene, the pair guide the band with precision and propulsion through prog-rock rhythmic minefields, hypnotic grooves, and improvised explorations.

“Contemporary music that is inspired by a multitude of traditions without being limited by any. This album is both fearless and moving” – Kinan Azmeh