Patrick Higgins (musician)

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Patrick Higgins
OriginNew York, New York
GenresExperimental, avant-garde, classical, noise, improvisation, film music
Years active2004–present
LabelsOther People, Northern Spy, NNA Tapes, Telegraph Harp
Associated actsZs, Arto Lindsay, Animal, Mivos Quartet
WebsiteOfficial Site

Patrick Higgins is an American avant-garde composer, guitarist, and producer from New York City, known for his work in experimental and contemporary classical music. He plays guitar and composes in the ensemble Zs, described by The New York Times as "one of the strongest avant-garde bands in New York."[1] His work as composer traverses the styles of the European avant-garde and the tradition of post-minimalist Downtown New York music.

He has received attention for his unique style of guitar playing and his work as a composer, heralded as "one of the most gifted guitarists working today" (The Quietus)[2] and a "formidable concert music composer" (The Boston Globe).[3] After a performance at South By Southwest music festival in Austin, TX he was named the "best guitarist of the 2013 event" by Premier Guitar Magazine.[4]


Higgins was born in 1984 in Manhattan and attended high school at the Urban School of San Francisco. He returned to New York City in 2002 to attend Columbia University, earning a B.A. in Philosophy and an M.A. in Comparative Literature.

Higgins joined long-running New York ensemble Zs in the summer of 2012, helping to embark on a busy schedule of touring and recording in 2013 and 2014. The new group's premier concert was reviewed by the New York Times in August 2012, with Ben Ratliff writing "It’s never wanted to be one thing, and now, with the addition of the guitarist Patrick Higgins and the drummer Greg Fox, it’s something else again."[5] During this period Zs toured extensively through North America on three occasions, and toured internationally across 20 countries, including four tours of Europe and a tour of Japan in early 2013. The first recording to feature Higgins and new member Greg Fox was Zs' 2014 release "Grain", released on Northern-Spy Records.[6]

Higgins co-composed, played guitar, and produced Zs' 2015 record Xe, which is the band's most critically acclaimed record to date. Xe earned an 8.0 from Pitchfork, the highest score yet given to Zs by the prominent music magazine.[7] The Wall Street Journal described the group's performance on 'Xe' as "hypnotic and harsh at once, with an ability to mesmerize while keeping a listener at attention."[8] At the end of 2015, Rolling Stone named Xe number 3 on its list of the Best Avant-Garde Records of the year.[9] The album and artwork for Xe were purchased by the SF MOMA and are part of the museum's permanent collection.[10]

As a composer, he has written numerous works for string quartet, chamber orchestra, and solo instruments. In 2013, a double LP of Higgins' String Quartet No.2 was released on Ex Cathedra Records, along with a work entitled Glacia, an electronic re-composition of the string quartet performance.[11] NNA Tapes released the Social Death Mixtape in the fall of 2015, a record presenting a wide array of Higgins' avant-garde works of Chamber Music and featuring compositions for harpsichord, string ensemble, solo violin, guitar, and electronics. Tiny Mix Tapes gave Social Death Mixtape 4 out of 5 stars, citing the record as a "masterful brand of de-composition".[12] Later that year, Telegraph Harp released Higgins' Bachanalia, an electro-acoustic record of classical guitar performances of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. The record features a series of acoustic guitar performances, each electronically processed and re-amplified in differing ways. Bachanalia was heralded as a "masterpiece"[13] and a virtuoso recording and helped to solidify Higgins' reputation as among the most innovative guitarists of his era.[14][15] The recording of the album took place in two different churches, one in Brooklyn, New York and one in Hudson, New York, with the quality of space and natural reverb entering in as a feature of the musical performance. The recording "winds up as an outstanding album of classical music that also happens to explore the same ideas and notions regarding space that inspired Alvin Lucier [...]".[16] September 2017 saw the release of a collaborative recording called "EVRLY MVSIC", released on NNA Tapes. The record featured semi-improvised acoustic duets of Higgins on guitar and violinist Josh Modney of the International Contemporary Ensemble.

In 2016, Higgins composed the score for the feature film As You Are (dir. by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte), which was awarded the prestigious Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.[17]

On November 3 and 4, 2016, Pioneer Works presented a multi-media concert and art installation of Higgins' chamber music in Red Hook, Brooklyn entitled TOCSIN: Three New Works by Patrick Higgins.[18] The concert featured Higgins' third string quartet composition SQ3 performed by the Mivos Quartet, as well as the world premiere of TOCSIN performed by virtuoso pianist Vicky Chow and the world premiere of Emptyset [0,0] for chamber orchestra, performed by the Wet Ink Ensemble. The concert featured an immersive sculptural and video art installation which was developed by Higgins in collaboration with the acclaimed visual artist Tauba Auerbach, architect Alexander Arroyo, and set designer/projectionist Ken Farmer. For TOCSIN, Auerbach created a series of hanging sculptures that were suspended from the ceiling and placed in front of three large film screens above the stage. From the balcony of the concert hall, projectors were used to map video content developed by Arroyo onto the screens and sculptures surrounding the musicians. The video content was specifically created to react to three pieces of Higgins' music.

Wet Ink Ensemble performing Higgins' work "Emptyset [0,0]" from TOCSIN, at Pioneer Works, Brooklyn NY, November 2016

Over the course of 2015 and 2016, Higgins joined with legendary No-Wave auteur Arto Lindsay to play guitar and assist in arrangement and production for Lindsay's forthcoming studio record, "Cuidado Madame", recorded in Brooklyn at Strange Weather Studios. The album was released on Northern-Spy Records in the spring of 2017.[19]

Higgins also played guitar for Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori, on her forthcoming solo record "Miss Info", recorded in residence at Pioneer Works in the summer of 2016.

On November 10, 2017 Higgins travelled to the Le Guess Who? Festival in Holland to premier a new work entitled "Hyperborea". The piece, written for string orchestra and live electronics, was performed by the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and included a new arrangement of Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo's "Tenebrae Responsories" for strings.

In April 2018, Nicolas Jaar announced that his record label Other People would be releasing Higgins' forthcoming solo LP "Dossier". After a solo concert tour across Europe in May 2018, "Dossier" was released on June 1, 2018. Exclaim! magazine reviewed the record, issuing a score of 9/10 and calling the work "an album filled to the brim with emotion filtered through inhuman and dissonant sounds" with "an incredibly unique aesthetic."[20] Inverted Audio magazine remarked that Higgins has been "dedicating himself to pushing the boundaries of electronic music as did his most notorious predecessors György Ligeti and John Cage with classical music, Higgins keeps driving the common rhythmic/melodic acceptations of our time into the corner, shattering the unyielding myths and misconceptions attached to the notions of harmony and dissonance on his way." The record has been noted as "one of Higgins’ most accomplished works to date."[21]


In the fall of 2013, Higgins founded Future-Past Studios in upstate New York. The studio is home to a renowned collection of analog recording equipment and housed in an historic Lutheran church from the 19th century.[22] He has worked as a record producer, engineer, and studio owner, and since the studio's opening has recorded over 60 records, including work with Dither Quartet and John Zorn, Vicky Chow of Bang on a Can, The Last Shadow Puppets (Arctic Monkeys), The National, War On Drugs, Zs, Gang Gang Dance, Amanda Palmer, Jherek Bischoff, Josephine Foster, Mivos Quartet, TAK Ensemble, Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire, and numerous film scores.


Studio albums[edit]

  • DOSSIER - Patrick Higgins (Other People, 2018)
  • Noth - Zs (Social Noise, 2018)
  • EVRLY MVSIC - Patrick Higgins and Josh Modney (NNA Tapes, 2017)
  • Cuidado Madame (guitar and arrangements) - Arto Lindsay (Northern Spy 2017)
  • Miss Info (guitar) - Miho Hatori (forthcoming 2017)
  • Bachanalia - Patrick Higgins (Telegraph Harp, 2015)
  • Social Death Mixtape - Patrick Higgins (NNA Tapes, 2015)
  • Xe - Zs (Northern Spy, 2015)
  • String Quartet No.2 + Glacia - Patrick Higgins (Ex Cathedra, Words+Dreams, 2013)
  • Grain - Zs (Northern Spy, 2013)
  • STEREO - Patrick Higgins (Words+Dreams, 2012)
  • Monkey Mountain - Patrick Higgins (ELE Records, Un-Fun Records, 2012)
  • Horror Orr - Animal split EP with Archeaopteryx (Un-Fun Records, 2007)
  • LP - Animal (Un-Fun Records, 2006)

Partial list of works[edit]

  • Toccata and Fugue - for solo piano (2017)
  • Hyperborea No.1 - for string quartet and two improvisers or electronics (2016)
  • They Sing The Police In Two Voices - for violin and cello duet (2016)
  • Emptyset [0,0] op.12 - for piano and chamber orchestra (2016)
  • TOCSIN op.11 - for prepared piano and two cellos (2016)
  • As You Are (Film) - official soundtrack to the motion picture (2016)
  • SQ3 op.10 - for string quartet (2015)
  • Skyclad - for electric guitar, electronics, and live sampler (2015)
  • Nomadic Symphony No.1 - for wandering chamber orchestra (2014)
  • Curves, Points, Lines Nos.1,2,3 - for solo violin and electronics (2014)
  • Erotic Apocalypse - for synthesizer and laptop (2014)
  • Gabriel (Film) - official soundtrack to the motion picture (2013)
  • Pattern Select - for harpsichord, synthesizer, piano (2013)
  • Three Systems - for three marimbas (2013)
  • Wind Tunnel - for solo violin and electronics (2013)
  • Glacia op.8 - for strings and electronics (2013)
  • String Quartet No.2 op.7 - for string quartet (2012)
  • Harpsichord Concerto op.6 - for harpsichord and chamber orchestra
  • Piano Suite No.1 op.5 - for solo piano (2011)
  • Miserable, (miracle) - for two guitars and electronics (2010)
  • Red Desert op.4 - for two guitars, cello, and percussion (2010)
  • String Quartet No.1 op.3 - for string quartet (2009)
  • Nightwalker, Deerstalker op.2 - for player piano or solo piano (2009)


  1. ^ "The Listings". New York Times. 2006-11-24. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
  2. ^ "FESTIVAL REPORT: Skaņu Mežs". The Quietus.
  3. ^ "Avant Rock Trio Brings Its Latest Incarnation to Jamaica Plains". The Boston Globe.
  4. ^ "The (Abbreviated) Best Guitar Performances of SXSW 2013". Premier Guitar Magazine.
  5. ^ "A Band Sprawls Its Way Across Genres on a Rigorous Wavelength All Its Own". New York Times.
  6. ^ "Zs Grain". Pitchfork.
  7. ^ "Zs: Xe, Album Review". Pitchfork.
  8. ^ "Fleetwood Mac In Pantaloons Plus 1960s Baroque Pop". The Wall Street Journal.
  9. ^ "20 Best Avant Albums of 2015". Rolling Stone.
  10. ^ "Tauba Auerbach Zs Xe Album Art". SF MOMA.
  11. ^ "Patrick Higgins and Mivos Quartet String Quartet No 2 Glacia". All Music.
  12. ^ "Patrick Higgins - Social Death Mixtape". Tiny Mix Tapes.
  13. ^ "Patrick Higgins - Bachanalia (Telegraph Harp)". The Big Takeover.
  14. ^ "I'm Bullish on Patrick Higgins". Analog Planet.
  15. ^ "Crate-Digging: Patrick Higgins – Bachanalia". Critical Masses.
  16. ^ "Patrick Higgins - Bachanalia". Scene Point Blank.
  17. ^ "Sundance: The Birth of a Nation Sweeps Top Prizes". Variety. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  18. ^ "TOCSIN, Programs". Pioneer Works.
  19. ^ "Arto Lindsay, Cuidado Madame". Pitchfork.
  20. ^ "Patrick Higgins, Dossier". "Exclaim! Magazine.
  21. ^ "In Perspective: Patrick Higgins talks up his new LP, 'Dossier', on Nicolas Jaar's Other People". Inverted Audio.
  22. ^ "Future-Past Studios".

External links[edit]