A show of hands, please: Who out there remembers International CD Exchange? Better known as ICE, the newsletter Pete Howard published from 1987 until 2006 was a monthly trove of neatly organized listings for upcoming CD releases, along with tantalizing details about noteworthy and special projects well in advance of their arrival. Howard started ICE when only a few hardy collectors cared about CDs, and kept it going and growing long enough to become the go-to source for the format’s boom years.
It’s in that same spirit of wanting to spread the news about upcoming releases among fellow enthusiasts that we introduce On the Record, a weekly column meant to round up details about new and pending recordings of interest to the new-music community: contemporary classical music and jazz, electronic and electroacoustic music, and idioms for which no clever genre name has been coined, on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, digital-only formats… you name it.
A few administrative notes: This list of upcoming release dates is culled from press releases, Amazon and other online record stores, social-media posts, and similar resources. Dates cited correspond to U.S. release of physical recordings where applicable, and are subject to change. These listings are not comprehensive—nor could they be! To submit a forthcoming recording for consideration, email information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Shiflet’s All-Day Buzz
In the experimental-music realm, recordings of unusually long duration are not so uncommon… in fact, some of the best releases in recent memory were long enough to have made Morton Feldman blush. Erstwhile Records ended 2016 with The Room Extended, a four-hour solo epic by veteran English improviser Keith Rowe, and followed in 2017 with l’âme est sans retenue I, a six-hour electronic-tape piece by Swiss composer Jürg Frey. The Finnish label Frozen Reeds released A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound, German composer Roland Kayn’s “cybernetic music” manifesto, which clocked in at a cosmic 14 hours.
Now, Mike Shiflet, a Columbus, Ohio-based guitarist and sound artist celebrated among drone-music cognoscenti for benchmark recordings like Llanos and The Choir, the Army, greeted the New Year with Tetracosa, posted for pre-order this week on Bandcamp. The new arrival, a three-hour continuous piece that shifts subtly through a variety of timbres and tones, is only the tip of the iceberg: In total, Tetracosa will span a total duration of 24 hours.
Via email, Shiflet fielded a few questions about the whys and wherefores of his newest undertaking.
NATIONAL SAWDUST LOG: Why a 24-hour piece? What appealed to you about that duration?
MIKE SHIFLET: I’ve long been fascinated by the base-12 number system, so when I started thinking about doing a long-form random number piece and playing with ideas, 24 jumped out as an obvious starting point as a number that could be divided a number of ways. I took advantage of that as I settled on the structure of the volumes, the number of tracks, and other compositional parameters.
The project synopsis included on your Bandcamp page states that Tetracosa contains “350 unique sound objects.” Is it your intention or goal that listeners who go the distance will learn to recognize those objects as they recur throughout the piece?
I wouldn’t say that conscious recognition is a goal, more of an open-ended question. I’d hope to at least trigger a faint memory or two – and some sounds certainly jump out more than others – but I don’t really ask that of listeners. However people interact with it is fine by me. “I fall asleep to your music” is some of the highest praise in my book.
Are you willing to reveal anything about the actual hands-on making of the music – what instruments, tools, or programs you used?
The source material is all over the place in terms of origin, instrumentation, fidelity, and manner of production. All the recording is done independently without a destination in mind, and is eventually assigned a place in the composition based on some loose numeric criteria – primarily its length – but without actually taking its audio content into consideration. This approach frees me from a lot of editorial decisions and opens up the acoustic possibilities. There are moments that by chance are beautifully harmonious. and others that full of awkward tension.
Tetracosa, Volume One will be released on Jan. 24, and is available now for pre-order in a variety of digital formats on Bandcamp. Seven further three-hour installments will follow throughout 2018.
Low Blows from Josh Sinton
Best known as a nimble, resourceful baritone saxophonist, Josh Sinton gets down, way down, on his newest album: krasa, a set of wildly adventurous soliloquies for unaccompanied contrabass clarinet. Produced by Sinton with fellow saxophonist Jon Irabagon (on whose personal imprint, Irabbagast, the album appears) and engineered by extreme-metal renaissance man Colin Marston, the album is a feat of extended inspiration and invention recorded in two long uninterrupted takes. Acoustic or amplified, chaotic and cathartic by turns, krasa is the beast-metal-noise-jazz solo recital you never knew you needed. It’s also the last word for the foreseeable future: Sinton announced in a Jan. 10 newsletter that an “indefinite leave of absence from music” will commence after a pair of local gigs on Jan. 13 and 28.
Andy Akiho Declares War
More than six years after releasing his debut CD, composer and steel-pan iconoclast Andy Akiho returns with The War Below, issued in digital formats, on CD, and on vinyl double-LP on the National Sawdust house label. The new set includes two compositions: Prospects of a Misplaced Year, performed by Friction Quartet with pianist Jenny Q. Chai, and Septet, played by Akiho with members of the Knights, pianist Vicky Chow, and percussionist Ian David Rosenbaum. Read more details on Bandcamp.
New This Week
Chaya Czernowin – Hidden – Inbal Hever, mezzo-soprano; JACK Quartet (Wergo) Pierre Henry – Polyphonies (Decca 12-CD anthology)
Sylvie Courvoisier Trio – D’Agala (Intakt) Franco Donatoni – Chamber Music – Ensemble Adapter (Kairos) Kit Downes – Obsidian (ECM) Morton Feldman – For John Cage – Erik Carlson, Aleck Karis (Bridge) Roscoe Mitchell & Matthew Shipp – Accelerated Projection (Rogueart) Bobo Stenson Trio – Contra la indecisión (ECM) Thomas Strønen Time Is a Blind Guide – Lucus (ECM) John Surman – Invisible Threads (ECM) Dmitri Tymoczko – Rube Goldberg Variations – Atlantic Brass Quintet, Flexible Music, Amernet String Quartet, and more (Bridge) Weird Beard – Orientation (Intakt)
Aaron Jay Kernis – Dreamsongs: Three Concertos – Paul Neubauer, Joshua Roman, Royal Northern Sinfonia/Rebecca Miller (Signum)
Ondrej Adámek – Sinuous Voices – Roméo Monteiro, Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain/Daniel Kawka (Aeon) Lea Bertucci – Metal Aether (NNA Tapes) Pablo Santiago Chin – Three Burials – Dalia Chin, Eliza Bangert, Ensemble Dal Niente/David Cubek, Orquesta Sinfónica de Heredia/Walter Morales (New Focus) Roger Doyle – Heresy: An Electronic Opera (Heresy) Helmut Lachenmann – Got Lost; String Trio; Serynade – Yuko Kakuta, Yukiko Sugawara, Trio Recherche (Wergo) Third Coast Percussion – Paddle to the Sea (Cedille) Erkki-Sven Tüür – Illuminatio; Whistles and Whispers from Uluru; Symphony No. 8 – Lawrence Power, Genevieve Lacey, Tapiola Sinfonietta/Olari Elts (Ondine)
John Luther Adams – All That Rises – JACK Quartet (Cold Blue) Michael Adkins Quartet – Flaneur (hatOLOGY)
Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet – Landfall (Nonesuch) John Beckwith – Instrumental Works, 2006-2016 – various artists (Centrediscs) Samuel Blaser with Marc Ducret & Peter Bruun – Taktlos Zürich 2017 (hatOLOGY) Sarah Buechi – Contradiction of Happiness (Intakt) Markus Eichenberger & Daniel Studer – Suspended (hatOLOGY) Christopher Fox – Headlong – Heather Roche (Metier) Peter Garland – Moon Viewing Music (Inscrutable Stillness Studies #1) – William Winant (Cold Blue) Michael Hersch – Images from a Closed Ward – FLUX Quartet (New Focus) Alice Ping Yee Ho – The Mysterious Boot – Susan Hoeppner, Winona Zelenka, Lydia Wong (Centrediscs) Myra Melford Trio – Alive in the House of Saints, Part 2 (hatOLOGY; reissue) Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton – Music for David Mossman (Live at Vortex London) (Intakt) George Perle – Orchestral Music (1965-1987) – Jay Campbell, Seattle Symphony/Ludovic Morlot (Bridge) Elena Ruehr – String Quartets Nos. 1-6 – Stephen Salters, Cypress String Quartet; Borromeo String Quartet (Avie)
Mark Applebaum – Speed Dating – Takao Hyakytome, Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players/Eduardo Leandro, Southern Oregon University Percussion Ensemble/Terry Longshore (Innova)
The Crossing – If There Were Water (Innova) Dolce Suono Trio with Lucy Shelton – American Canvas (Innova) Duo Damiana (Molly Barth & Dieter Hennings) – castillos de viento (Innova)
Fossil Aerosol Mining Project – August 53rd (Helen Scarsdale) Michael Gordon – Sonatra – Vicky Chow (Cantaloupe Music) Subtle Degrees – A Dance That Empties (New Amsterdam/NNA Tapes)