On the Record is 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.
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.
Taking a Spin with Ursula K. Le Guin
“The people in this book might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in Northern California,” the noted author Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in her 1985 novel Always Coming Home, a speculative anthropological record of the Kesh people. Le Guin, who passed away on January 22, wasn’t satisfied with just devising and detailing the lives and habits of her invented community. After a year of working on the book, she told an interviewer, “I began wanting to hear the music. I could hear the words but I couldn’t hear the music.”
Happily, a solution was at hand: Le Guin was acquainted with a suitable collaborator: Todd Barton, a composer steeped in avant-garde classical styles, jazz, and world music, who had created several projects with Le Guin for public radio. (Barton’s own new album, Music from the Studio, features appealing miniatures for Buchla synthesizers and Haken Continuum.) Following immersive study of Native American speech and song, Le Guin invented a language for the Kesh, while Barton fashioned a set of anthropologically informed instruments, including “the seven-foot horn known to the Kesh as the Houmbúta and the Wéosai Medoud Teyahi bone flute.”
Le Guin and Barton recorded their creations, and cassette copies of their collaborations were included with some early editions of Always Coming Home. On March 23, those recordings will come to vinyl LP and digital formats for the first time through an authorized release by Freedom to Spend, a venture jointly operated by musician Pete Swanson, Jed Bindeman of Portland, Oregon record store and label Little Axe, and Matt Werth of the RVNGIntl.label.
The process that brought Le Guin and Barton into the Freedom to Spend fold started long before the celebrated author’s passing. “Music and Poetry of the Kesh was an album that floated around our collective milieu for awhile,” Werth says via email about what prompted the label to pursue the project. “Not really an individual’s discovery, but music that willed its way to Freedom to Spend – albeit, after many, many conversations with Todd and Ursula’s literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd.”
At Freedom to Spend, Music and Poetry of the Kesh joins a selective, idiosyncratic, and consistently fascinating catalog launched not quite a year ago with a classy reissue of Eye Chant, an ambient-electro-funk cult classic from 1986 by Michele Mercure. The label subsequently issued three more fascinating more-than-curios: Music Works for Industry, a quirky example of playfully rustic industrial synth-pop by Marc Barreca; Poiemusia La Nau Dels Argonautes, a sensual minimalist prog-pop saga by Spanish composer Pep Llopis (incidentally, among my top releases for 2017); and Eros in Arabia, a scintillating Fourth World concoction from Los Angeles composer Richard Horowitz.
Of the label’s curatorial approach, Werth relates, “Often one of us will ‘lead’ the hunt and pursuant conversations, but ultimately, it’s very much a hive mind. And very much supported by the amazing infrastructure of RVNG and our design studio, Will Work for Good.”
And indeed, appealing design is one element consistent among all Freedom to Spend releases, the newest included. According to a release sheet provided by the label, “The LP will include a spot printed jacket with Ursula’s illustrations from Always Coming Home, a facsimile of the original lyric sheet, liner notes by Moe Bowstern, a multi-format digital download code, and a bookmark letter-pressed by Stumptown Printers in Portland, OR.”
Music and Poetry of the Kesh will be issued in a limited edition of 1,000 vinyl copies and in various digital formats on March 23, 2018. You can pre-order your copy now via the Freedom to Spend Bandcamp page.
”Julius Caesar, young and gay: A groundbreaking 1971 opera gets revived for a new era,” the headline ran… John Rockwell’s authoritative Los Angeles Timesarticle detailed the tortuous, even tortured history of Lou Harrison’s Young Caesar, said to have been the first opera to treat male homosexuality openly. The opera was staged first in 1971, and much revised thereafter. The version conceived by MacArthur fellow Yuval Sharon and staged by trailblazing opera cabal The Industry for the Los Angeles Philharmonic last June proposed a streamlined hybrid: a 90-minute score for narrator (here, Bruce Vilanch), soloists, and chamber ensemble, orchestrated with a mix of Western and Asian instruments. Does the new version work? Judge for yourself: Today, with practically no advance fanfare, a complete recording is available via The Industry’s Bandcamp page, and also can be streamed at all the usual places. Since the recording was made live, you sometimes hear peals of laughter… but it’s the approving kind, and helps to enhance this special musical event.
Do Nothing Till You Hear from de Asís
The English CD label Another Timbre has just announced its February 2018 release lineup, and no one who has admired recent discs devoted to music by Jürg Frey, Magnus Granberg, Morton Feldman, and a choice clutch of Canadian composers (Linda Catlin Smith, first and foremost) will need much urging to investigate. Among the four new arrivals just announced, the Ensemble Grizzana disc of bespoke compositions by Frey and Granberg is essential, and two releases featuring enigmatic Japanese guitarist and composer Taku Sugimotp – ‘h,’ a duet with fellow guitarist Cristián Alvear, and Chamber and Field Works 2015-2017 by Bruno Duplant, featuring chamber and solo pieces involving Sugimoto – are sure to attract attention. But do not miss Do Nothing, a six-part suite for acoustic guitar and percussion by French composer and improviser Clara de Asís. Each piece is spare and poetic; together, the album has a rare kind of organic cohesiveness. For information about ordering discs or downloads, watch the Another Timbre website.
New This Week
The Epichorus – Najara (National Sawdust Tracks) Michael Gordon – Natural History – Steiger Butte Drum & Singers, Britt Orchestra/Teddy Abrams (Cantaloupe Music)
Aaron Jay Kernis – Dreamsongs: Three Concertos – Paul Neubauer, Joshua Roman, Royal Northern Sinfonia/Rebecca Miller (Signum) Steve Reich – Pulse/Quartet – International Contemporary Ensemble, Colin Currie Group (Nonesuch; vinyl due March 30)
(☆ – new addition this week)
☆ Michael Pisaro – étant donnés (Gravity Wave)
☆ Michael Pisaro/Reinier van Houdt – Shades of Eternal Night (Gravity Wave)
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) Lara Downes & Friends – For Lenny (Sony Classical) Roger Doyle – Heresy: An Electronic Opera (Heresy) Eva-Maria Houben – Breath for Organ (Second Editions) 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) William Brittelle – Without Chasms (New Amsterdam; subscription-only) Sarah Buechi – Contradiction of Happiness (Intakt) Markus Eichenberger & Daniel Studer – Suspended (hatOLOGY) Christopher Fox – Headlong – Heather Roche (Metier) Shinya Fukumori Trio – For 2 Akis (ECM) 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) Nicolas Masson Quartet – Travelers (ECM) 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) ☆ Poliça + s t a r g a z e – Music for the Long Emergency (Totally Gross National Product) Elena Ruehr – String Quartets Nos. 1-6 – Stephen Salters, Cypress String Quartet; Borromeo String Quartet (Avie) Andy Sheppard Quartet – Romaria (ECM) Norma Winstone – Descansado – Music for Films (ECM)
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) ☆ Scott Johnson – Mind Out of Matter – Alarm Will Sound/Alan Pierson (Tzadik) Michael Gordon – Sonatra – Vicky Chow (Cantaloupe Music) Dave Liebman/Tatsuya Nakatani/Adam Rudolph – The Unknowable (RareNoise) Bobby Previte – Rhapsody (RareNoise) Subtle Degrees – A Dance That Empties (New Amsterdam/NNA Tapes) ☆ YoshimiO/Susie Ibarra/Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe – Flower of Sulphur (Thrill Jockey)
Michael Daugherty – Dreamachine; Trail of Tears; Reflections on the Mississippi – Evelyn Glennie, Amy Porter, Carol Jantsch, Albany Symphony Orchestra/David Allan Miller (Naxos) Olivia De Prato – Streya – works by Samson Young, Victor Lowrie, Ned Rothenberg, Taylor Brook, Reiko Fueting, Missy Mazzoli (New Focus) ☆ Mathias Eick – Ravensberg (ECM) Ensemble Musikfabrik – Kreutzungen – works by Vassos Nicolaou, Johannes Schöllhorn, Gérard Grisey, Dieter Mack (Wergo)
Sebastian Fagerlund – Stonework; Drifts; Transit – Ismo Eskelinen, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Hannu Lintu (Bis) Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette – After the Fall (ECM) Olivier Messiaen – Catalogue d’oiseaux – Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Pentatone)
As National Sawdust Log ceases operation at a time of drastic challenge, editor and lead writer Steve Smith looks back at what this bold joint initiative among artists, journalists, and critics achieved.
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Vanessa Ague talks to composers Gemma Peacocke and Cassie Wieland about the music they created for a Kinds of Kings residency concert at National Sawdust in March, now postponed and awaiting rescheduling.
https://nationalsawdust.org/thelog/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Kinds-of-Kings-2020_photo-credit-Susanna.png641964Vanessa Aguehttps://nationalsawdust.org/thelog/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/national-sawdust-log.pngVanessa Ague2020-03-17 15:00:092020-03-17 15:56:51Inside National Sawdust: Kinds of Kings Explore Meyer Sound
Rebecca S. Lentjes looks back on the first three orchestral programs of "Project 19," the New York Philharmonic's ambitious initiative celebrating the centenary of women's suffrage with new works by 19 distinguished composers.
https://nationalsawdust.org/thelog/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Project-featured.jpg600900Rebecca S. Lentjeshttps://nationalsawdust.org/thelog/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/national-sawdust-log.pngRebecca S. Lentjes2020-03-06 18:00:432020-03-06 18:18:13New York Philharmonic: Project 19 Opens with Captivating Works
DIrector Joel Ivany and composer Michelle DiBucci talk to Olivia Giovetti about 'Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup,' the timely chamber opera Against the Grain Theatre is workshopping in residence at National Sawdust.
https://nationalsawdust.org/thelog/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Grain-banner.jpg8001500Olivia Giovettihttps://nationalsawdust.org/thelog/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/national-sawdust-log.pngOlivia Giovetti2020-02-12 11:46:272020-02-12 12:30:12Inside National Sawdust: Against the Grain Theatre in Residence