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Unusually successful among contemporary music groupings, the Belgian collective BL!NDMAN has recorded for major labels. Since 2008, BL!NDMAN has comprised four separate quartets. BL!NDMAN (the stylization has been used since the group's beginning) was founded by saxophonist Eric Sleichim in 1988 as a saxophone quartet. The name came from that of a magazine by artist Marcel Duchamp. BL!NDMAN sought to explore unconventional playing techniques to expand the repertory of the saxophone through collaboration with artists in other media. The group made its recording debut in 1999 on the major Warner Classics label with the album Dust Makes Damage. BL!NDMAN has also played older music, frequently interpreting it in unusual ways; during a phase in the early 21st century, the group focused on early music. Sleichim arranged Bach's chorale partitas for organ into a version for saxophones; the resulting album, BL!NDMAN plays Bach (2002), found wide success. BL!NDMAN went on to collaborate with specialist early music groups, including the Huelgas Ensemble and Collegium Vocale Ghent. In 2008, BL!NDMAN remade itself into a collective of four separate quartets, denoted BL!NDMAN [sax], BL!NDMAN [drums], BL!NDMAN [vox], and BL!NDMAN [strings]. These groups have performed separately and sometimes together in various configurations. All four appeared together in the Kwadratur-Triptych project, which was presented at cities in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. The collective returned to Bach with 2012's 32 Foot/Sweelinck-Bach, featuring BL!NDMAN [sax] and presented at the Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht and the Musikfestspiele in Potsdam, Germany; the project was recorded for the EMI label and released in 2013. BL!NDMAN has collaborated with contemporary composers; BL!NDMAN [sax] + [drums] has toured with Whiplash, a program featuring commissioned new pieces by Mayke Nas, Riccardo Nova, Wim Henderickx, Frederik Neyrinck, and Sleichim. BL!NDMAN [drums] + [strings] was a collaboration with composer and DJ Matt Wright on eight turntables accompanied by live video from Dutch video-artist Olga Mink. In 2013, the entire BL!NDMAN collective appeared at the MATA Festival in New York, marking the debt of the whole grouping in the U.S. BL!NDMAN has made several more recordings for Warner Classics, including Water & Fire: Händel Revisited (2017) and ICONS: The American Minimalists (2023).
© James Manheim /TiVo
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