David Watson is a musician living and working in New York City.
A long-time staple of the experimental scene, he has worked closely with a wide range of exceptional musicians. The Wire magazine described his latest release — a double CD project from the Experimental Intermedia label — as “magnificent,” stating, “nobody has heard anything quite like this before.”
Watson started performing publicly in New Zealand in 1981. At that time in New Zealand, there simply was no experimental music scene. After five years of extensive touring, recording, and starting a co-operative record label (Braille Records), then organizing national festivals involving more than one hundred musicians, there was an experimental scene in New Zealand.
He moved to New York in 1987. Soon after his arrival, Wayne Horvitz asked him to perform in the Comprovisation Festival held in the nascent, and soon to be hugely influential Knitting Factory. This began a long commitment to New York’s downtown community.
As a guitar player he has been a regular performer of John Zorn’s classic game piece, “Cobra.” He has performed and recorded in various projects with Chris Mann, Ikue Mori and many others. Recently he premiered Robert Ashley’s 1964 composition for trio “White on White.”
In 1993 Watson began creating his own music for the Highland Bagpipes. His first project featuring bagpipes was an all-star downtown band, The Wax, which included at various times Otomo Yoshihide, Kato Hideki, Andrea Parkins, Christine Bard and Ikue Mori.
About his solo CD “Throats” the Downtown Music Gallery wrote “the bagpipes shimmer as different lines pile up like an old Terry Riley piece, hypnotically repeating while slowly shifting in pitch.” Startling Moniker, reviewing his last recording wrote, “[His work] positively leaps from the stereo, and quickly fills the house with shimmering drone of the fullest variety imaginable. The physical qualities of this recording cannot be overstated.”
He is a member of Glacial, a long-standing collaborative trio with Lee Ranaldo and Tony Buck, which features both his guitar playing and piping.
Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Josef Woodward described a performance in 2007 at the Schindler House, saying, “His approach to his instrument is completely unconventional, highly original and relentlessly inventive.”
A partial list of recording and performing credits includes Christian Marclay, Zeena Parkins, Andrea Parkins, Hans Tammen, Ikue Mori, Jon Rose, Jim Staley, Christine Bard, Jim Pugliese, Makigami Koichi, Kato Hideki, Thomas Lehn, Jonathon Kane, Tony Buck, Otomo Yoshihide, Rhys Chatham, David Soldier, Phil Dadson, and Anthony Coleman.
His recorded work can be found on the Avant, Lovely Music, XI (Experimental Intermedia), Tzadik, DIA Editions, Ariel, Braille Codex, Kraak, Table of Elements, Three Lobed, Dr. Jims, and Midwest (DPAG) labels.
He has contributed music to film, notably to Mathew Barney’s “Cremaster 3,” Laura Parnes “No Is Yes” and Abigail Child’s “B-Side.”
He has an extensive background in collaborating with choreographers, notably Jeremy Nelson, Luis Lara, Yves Musard, Daria Fain and Osmany Tellez. In New York his music for dance has been performed extensively at Danspace/Saint Marks, Judson Church, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and has toured Europe and South America.
He has curated international festivals of experimental music and sound in New York and New Zealand, produced experimental radio (the series “Giant Ear”) and taught Sonic Arts at the SMFA in Boston, and eco-sound at the Bronx River Art Community.