On the Record is a weekly column that rounds 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 email@example.com.
Jon Hassell explores new worlds on a new label
“My aim was to make a music that was vertically integrated in such a way that at any cross-sectional moment you were not able to pick a single element out as being from a particular country or genre of music performed together widely and frequently, and continue to do so,” the trumpeter Jon Hassell declared in a 1991 interview with the journalist and scholar Mark J. Prendergrast.
Starting from that cerebral premise, Hassell would create a signature sound that was anything but cerebral. Fusing elements of classical minimalism, electric jazz, and the widest possible variety of timbres, textures, and rhythms from Africa and Southeast Asia, he topped it all with an utterly distinctive approach to his instrument. The result, which in 1980 Hassell termed “Fourth World” music, would in time make him one of the world’s most influential conceptualists and performers.
Small wonder, then, that the announcement this week of Hassell’s first new album in almost a decade set off widespread ripples of anticipation among his admirers in and out of the media. Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume 1) is due on June 8 on Hassell’s own label, Ndeya, a newly formed imprint of the long-running English electronic music label Warp.
For newcomers, some background is in order. A conservatory-trained musician, Hassell grew accustomed early on to keeping company with visionaries: he worked with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the 1960s, played with Terry Riley on the original recording of the watershed minimalist piece In C, and studied alongside La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela in India with the iconic vocalist Pandit Pran Nath.
On his first two albums, Vernal Equinox (1977) and Earthquake Island (1978), Hassell forged his signature style – a slippery, breathy electronically treated sound, deeply influenced by Indian Kiranic singing – and developed a musical approach that fused disparate idioms in a manner both seamless and respectful. Prior to releasing his breakthrough third album, Hassell’s style acquired a name. In a much-cited interview, he explained the idea behind the term:
“In those days, the Cold War days, there was the First World and basically the unspoken Second, which was the Soviet Empire. Anything outside of those two was called Third World, and it usually meant less developed countries. And those less developed countries were places where tradition was still alive and spirituality was inherent in their musical output, for lack of a better term. [Fourth World] was like ‘3 +1.’ The idea was the merging of the traditional and spiritual side from the Third World with the First World technology, using the harmonizer and that kind of thing.”
Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics, issued in 1980, found Hassell working with a simpatico collaborator and producer, Brian Eno, forging a sinuous sound that prompted further collaborations with Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, and David Sylvian. Over the last few years, that album and its successor, Fourth World, Vol. 2: Dream Theory in Malaya, have reappeared in newly remastered editions on the Glitterbeat label, affirming rekindled interest in Hassell’s impressive, expansive body of work.
That Hassell’s own new label happens to be a Warp imprint serves to underscore how pervasive an influence the trumpeter’s music – and, yes, his Fourth World concept – has been in particular for succeeding generations of plugged-in seekers. “He’s in the swampy repetition of Ricardo Villalobos, the muggy moments of Call Super, the morphing electronics of Oneohtrix Point Never and Arca, the peculiar sonorities of Jan Jelinek,” journalist Andy Beta wrote in a highly recommended 2017 feature for Resident Advisor. “In the past year, strands of Hassell’s music appeared in some of the headiest new acts out there: Visible Cloaks, Don’t DJ, Andrew Pekler, the Wah Wah Wino crew, NYC’s Georgia and Montreal’s RAMZi, to name just a few.”
Accordingly, “Dreaming,” the sole track from Listening to Pictures (Pentimento Volume One) presently available for streaming, surrounds Hassell’s furtive trumpet with up-to-the-minute sounds and gear—a mix of plush synth tones and restlessly shifting textural details. Key to the trumpeter’s approach this time is the historic notion of pentimento, a visual-arts term that typically denotes a canvas upon which a painter’s active thought process is evident, in marks and traces still visible from earlier drafts and underdrawing.
“I started seeing (or was that hearing?) the music we were working on in the studio in terms of that definition,” Hassell explains in a press statement about the new album. “Seeing it in terms of a painting with layers and touch-ups and start-overs with new layers that get erased in places that let the underlying pattern come to the top and be seen (or heard). This is what metaphors do – they let you see (hear) things through the prism of another art or through the walls next door.”
Beyond Listening to Pictures, plans for Ndeya are vague but tantalizing. Again citing the Bandcamp page, the label will be “a home for new work as well as well as selected archival releases, including re-presses of classic sides and some astonishing unreleased music.” Clearly, old sounds and new worlds both await exploration.
Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One) is due June 8, 2018, on Ndeya in vinyl, CD, and digital formats; pre-ordering is available now via Bandcamp.
[Editor’s note: The March 30 installment of On the Record was canceled because of illness; the featured interview with cellist Clarice Jensen was published on April 3, and can be found here.]
New This Week
Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell Duo – Angel Dusk (Screwgun)
Rafiq Bhatia – Breaking English (Anti-; related Log article here)
Clarice Jensen – For this from that will be filled – works by Clarice Jensen, Michael Harrison, and Jóhann Jóhannsson (Miasmah; related Log article here) Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints – Scandal (Greenleaf Music) Mind Over Mirrors – Bellowing Sun (Paradise of Bachelors) Weston Olencki – tunnels (self-released) Ashley Paul – Lost in Shadows (Slip) Quince Ensemble – Motherland – vocal works by Gilda Lyons, Laura Steenberge, Cara Haxo, and Jennifer Jolley (New Focus) Kristjan Randalu – Absence (ECM) William Selman – Musica Enterrada (Mysteries of the Deep) Christina Vantzou – No. 4 (Kranky) Dan Weiss – Starebaby (Pi Recordings) Patrick Zimmerli Quartet – Clockworks (Songlines)
(☆ – new addition this week)
Leila Abdul-Rauf – Diminution (Cloister Recordings; physical release May 11)
Anthony Braxton – Quartet (Willisau) 1991 Studio (hatOLOGY; reissue) Sarah Davachi – Let Night Come On Bells End the Day (Recital) Duduka Da Fonseca Trio – Plays Dom Salvador (Sunnyside) Goldmund – Occasus (Western Vinyl) Silvan Schmid Quartet – At Gamut (hatOLOGY) Matthew Shipp – Symbol Systems (hatOLOGY; reissue)
Insub Meta Orchestra – Choices & Melodies (INSUB.)
Basil Athanasiadis – Soft Light – Shonorities (Métier) ☆ Peter Brötzmann & Fred Lonberg-Holm – Ouroboros (Astral Spirits) District Five – Decoy (Intakt) Duo Gazzana – Ravel / Franck / Ligeti / Messiaen (ECM New Series)
Joshua Fineberg – Sonic Fictions – Pascal Contet, Arditti Quartet, Argento Chamber Ensemble/Michel Galante, Talea Ensemble/James Baker (Métier)
Uli Fussenegger – San Teodoro 8 – Ernesto Molinari, Mike Svoboda, Martin Siewert, Uli Fussenegger (Kairos) Globe Unity Orchestra – Globe Unity – 50 Years (Intakt)
Andrew Hamilton – Music for People – Michelle O’Rourke, Juliet Fraser, Maxime Echadour, Crash Ensemble, Ives Ensemble/Alan Pierson (NMC) Alexander Knaifel – Lukomoriye – Oleg Malov, Tatiana Melentieva, Piotr Migunov, Lege Artis Choir/Boris Abalian (ECM New Series) ☆ Pascal Le Boeuf – Into the Anthropocene – Gina Izzo, Jessica Meyer, Dave Eggar (self-released)
Mike McGinnis with Steve Swallow & Art Lande – Singular Awakening (Sunnyside) Maria Monti – Il Bestario (Unseen Worlds; reissue, LP/CD only) Luigi Nono – Como una ola de fuerza y luz; …..sofferte onde serene…; Paulo de Assis – unfolding waves… con luigi nono – Claudia Barainsky, Jan Michiels, SWR Experimentalstudio, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln/Peter Rundel, Léo Warinsky (Kairos) ☆ Arvo Pärt – The Symphonies – NFM Wrocław Philharmonic/Tõnu Kaljuste (ECM New Series) Wenchen Qin – Orchestral Works – Weiwei Lan, Wei Ji, Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien/Gottfried Rabl (Kairos) Edward Simon – Sorrows & Triumphs (Sunnyside) Karlheinz Stockhausen – Kurzwellen – C.L.S.I Ensemble/Paul Méfano (Mode) John Zorn – Insurrection (Tzadik)
☆ Elina Duni – Partir (ECM)
Charmaine Lee – Ggggg (Anticausal Systems) Weston Olencki – emulsions I-IV (Anticausal Systems)
Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog – WRU Still Here? (Northern Spy) Tigue – Strange Paradise (New Amsterdam/NNA Tapes) Nils Vigeland/Reiko Fueting/Daniel Lippel/John Popham – “…through which the past shines…” – solo and chamber works for guitar by Nils Vigeland and Reiko Fueting (New Focus) Philip White & Chris Pitsiokos – Collapse (Anticausal Systems)
Architek Percussion – The Privacy of Domestic Life – works by Adam Basanta, Taylor Brook, Duncan Schouten, and Beavan Flanagan (Centrediscs) ☆ Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin – Awase (ECM) Michael Gordon – Clouded Yellow – Kronos Quartet, Young People’s Chorus of New York City/Francisco J. Nuñez (Cantaloupe Music) Michael Torke – Unconquered – Philadelphia Orchestra/Cristian Macelaru (Ecstatic)
Michael Blake– The Philosophy of Composition: Works for Violoncello and Piano – Friedrich Gauwerky, Daan Vandewalle (Wergo) Simone Dinnerstein & A Far Cry – Circles – concertos by Bach and Philip Glass (Orange Mountain Music)
Roman Filiú – Quarteria (Sunnyside) María Grand – Magdalena (Biophilia) Dave Holland, Evan Parker, Craig Taborn & Ches Smith – Uncharted Territories (Dare2 Records; related Log article here) Oracle Hysterical – Hecuba (National Sawdust Tracks) Steve Reich – Live/Electronic Music (Analog Spark; vinyl reissue) Lisa Steich – pietà – Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra/Gregor Mayrhofer, hand werk/Niklas Seidl, Vokalensemble Kölner Dom/Eberhard Metternich, ensemble recherche, UT insieme vocale-consonante/Lorenzo Donati (Wergo)
Daniel Carter, William Parker & Matthew Shipp – Seraphic Light (AUM Fidelity) Rachel Grimes – The Doctor from India (Original Soundtrack) (Mossgrove Music)
Robert Honstein – An Economy of Means – Karl Larson, Douglas Perkins (New Focus) Stephanie Richards – Fullmoon (Relative Pitch) ☆ Henry Threadgill Double Up Ensemble – Double Up, Plays Double Up Plus (Pi Recordings) Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg – Dirt… and More Dirt (Pi Recordings) ☆ Steve Tibbetts – Life Of (ECM)
Sarah Bernstein – Crazy Lights Shining (Phase Frame)
Loadbang – Old Fires – works by Scott Wollschleger, Angélica Negrón, Taylor Brook, Paula Matthusen, William Lang, Jeffrey Gavett, and Reiko Fueting
☆ Jon Hassell – Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One) (Ndeya) ☆ Colin Stetson – Hereditary (original motion picture soundtrack) (Milan)
This week in On the Record, The Necks defy expectation and categorization on 'Three,' their 21st album, new on Northern Spy. Plus dozens of listings for forthcoming releases.
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This week in On the Record: Bandcamp has responded to the current COVID-19 pandemic by waiving its fees for 24 hours, directing more money to artists and labels—here are some new and recent releases to buy today.