Working Wolf howls the night away

Local artist Aby Wolf plays a sneak peek at her new work “Champagne Confetti” with fellow musician Eric Mayson.

Aby Wolf performs songs from “Champagne Confetti” with band at the Public Functionary.

Sabrina Merritt

Aby Wolf performs songs from “Champagne Confetti” with band at the Public Functionary.

Sabrina Merritt, Reporter

Synths, strings and a very glittery champagne bottle were big features at the Public Functionary on the night of Oct. 17. The Minneapolis gallery played host to musicians Aby Wolf and Eric Mayson for their current project “Champagne Confetti.” The two performed several songs from the new work, accompanied by a band of nine other musicians.

Wolf and Mayson, both Twin Cities-based artists, describe the work as a blend of ambient sounds, electro-R&B and chamber music. A violin, viola, cello, bass and multiple percussion instruments supported the two. The music was largely improvised, which produced fluid and non-traditional song structures. As the night was titled “Champagne Confetti: Work-in-Progress,” Wolf and Mayson aimed to capture the uncertainty in the creative process.

Wolf, a composer and vocalist, works across genres, experimenting with hip-hop, electronic, folk and jazz. Wolf has worked with several musicians, including local artist Dessa and even rapper Macklemore. Along with this, Wolf has also released four solo albums.

The night began with opening act Concentric Spaces, a group comprised of percussionists Luke Rivard, Krissy Bergmark and Patrick Marschke. Attendees moved around the room, talking casually, as Rivard emerged from the crowd to play an electronic marimba piece on a small side stage. Like Wolf and her band, the percussionist group also played with improvisation and creativity.

“All of these projects with Luke and Chrissy here, we’re still figuring it out. This could be said of all musicians and everything they do,”  Marschke said.

Marschke even pulled back the curtain as to how Concentric Spaces was able to produce their unique electro and digital sound.

“This is all based on a software I built that takes any sound in the entire world and manipulates that sound in the computer,” Marschke said. The software allowed Marschke to create an entirely new work based on sampled music.

After a short intermission, Aby Wolf and her band took to the floor to perform. After two songs, Wolf informed the audience the project was only made possible through her fellow Minnesotans, as she is a recipient of the 2018 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant.

Wolf and her band addressed the crowd minimally during the performance. Instead, the team laughed and joked among themselves, smiling and dancing to the fluid music. The casual atmosphere, along with a bar in the back where attendees could purchase their own champagnes, made the show feel like an intimate party.

“We’ve made a super rad mixtape of spacious, weird time signature, impossible to transcribe material,” Wolf said in one of the few moments she spoke to the crowd. She then briefly described the process of composing the work with Mayson and other artists at a residency last winter.

As “Champagne Confetti” is still in the works, Wolf announced there was no music or merchandise to purchase. Instead, she asked the attendees to donate to the Public Functionary. The space opened in 2013, funded by crowdsourcing with 237 backers.