On the Record 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two Words, two voices, one conversation
The Australian record label Black Truffle, launched in 2009 by multi-instrumentalist and producer Oren Ambarchi, has earned an enviable reputation for beautifully recorded, exactingly produced vinyl releases devoted to music that largely defies easy description. Ambarchi – whose own output as a performer and recording artist includes elemental drumming, textural guitar, and trance-inducing electronic music – casts his net similarly widely for the label. In addition to a wide variety of Ambarchi’s own projects, including his unique power trio with Keiji Haino and Jim O’Rourke, the Black Truffle catalog includes memorable efforts from such artists as Alvin Lucier, John Tilbury, Eyvind Kang & Jessika Kenney, and Will Guthrie, as well as covetable reissues of recordings by Annea Lockwood, AMM, Alvin Curran, and Arnold Dreyblatt.
Still, it’s no exaggeration to say that on July 27, the label is issuing one of its most distinctive and arresting projects to date: Two Words, a duo project by Canadian sound artist Crys Cole and Francis Plagne, a Melbourne singer-songwriter whose idiosyncratic yet instantly appealing music is subtly infused with improvisation and gentle abstraction.
Cole, Ambarchi’s frequent collaborator and partner, registers first, her tactile contact-mic’ed objects and surfaces whipping up sounds akin to surf and steam. Some four minutes into the album’s first side, Plagne’s plaintive organ slips into the mix, emerging from the din but never dominating outright. On side two, Plagne starts to sing two-word couplets from a text by the Berlin-based poet Marty Hiatt: “lens flare, signal flare, raw nerve…” The arrival of a voice is at once startling and soothing, a paradox that permeates Two Words. Factor in the studio-as-instrument ethos that Cole, Plagne, and engineer/producer Joe Talia all bring to the project, and what results is an album that’s immediately ingratiating – even familiar and cozy – yet reveals more detail and nuance with each spin.
Via email, Cole fielded a few questions about Two Words.
NATIONAL SAWDUST LOG: How did you and Francis connect and start to collaborate in the first place?
CRYS COLE: Francis and I have been friends for several years now, and we have always shared similar passions for very diverse music and sound. A couple of years ago, Francis asked me to collaborate with him for a night of improvisations in Melbourne. We slipped immediately into exploring conceptual ideas within our collaboration, and this eventually led to a performance in Oz that developed into Two Words.
I’m curious to know how you and Francis developed your approach to collaboration in a practical sense – literally, how did you decide what to do to bring your disparate practices into harmony?
Developing the approach was quite interesting, as it took on various forms of instrumentation to begin with (objects, flutes, percussion, organ, etc.). Both Francis and I play with a wide array of instruments/tools, but in the end we came back to our distinct voices for this piece… in this case; my contact mic textures and his voice. This was our starting point. I think that the imperfect nature of my hands-on approach pairs beautifully with the imperfect and fragile quality of Francis’s voice. The idea of fusing a completely abstract section with a very structured lyrical section was a unique challenge, but somehow it made complete sense to us. The simplicity and clarity of both approaches somehow fit.
To what extent, if any, did you alter the actual recordings you made during the production stages?
Though we had composed the piece earlier for a performance, for the record we brought all of our tools together in the studio with Joe Talia to re-record and develop the piece. Here we did more multi-tracking and forensically added effects with Joe’s help. The way we recorded everything and created space both through actual live mic’ing in the space and through adding field recording elements adds to the movement and depth in the piece.
One other thing I want to mention: although the [LP’s] two parts connect to my & Francis’s signatures (contact textures & voice), both sides involve the both of us playing, and were constructed and composed by the both of us. We don’t see the record as two separate things, but rather a conversation between the two of us. Two words, two voices, one conversation.
Black Truffle will issue Two Words on July 27.
Notes from elsewhere
According to a Facebook post from Yuko Zama, proprietor and producer of the new label elsewhere (first covered in “On the Record” on April 27, here), production delays have slowed the arrival of the label’s first two releases: Blurred Music by Biliana Voutchkova and Michael Thieke, and Musique pour le lever du jour by Melaine Dalibert. Both releases now are due on July 14. But if you’re among the many adventurous listeners who’ve been awaiting these releases patiently, there’s a little something to keep you busy on both fronts. On Bandcamp, Zama has just added a new excerpt (embedded above) from one of the three long spontaneous compositions on Blurred Music, which was lent a boost this week by its inclusion in a fascinating new playlist the music critic and scholar Ben Ratliff assembled for New Sounds. Meanwhile, on Facebook, Dalibert has posted a relatively brief new piano piece: an untitled meditation in honor of David Sylvian, the iconic avant-pop artist and ambient-music explorer who designed the distinctive cover art for both of the inaugural elsewhere releases.
Confront arrives on Bandcamp
Confront, a hardy English label devoted to issuing new music in both improvised and composed idioms on CD and CD-r, usually in distinctively packaged limited editions, made the leap to Bandcamp this week with an initial batch of four releases. Founded in 1996 by Mark Wastell, a multi-instrumentalist associated most closely with the cello, Confront has documented a steady stream of vital artists: among them Derek Bailey, Keith Rowe, Simon H. Fell, Burkhard Beins, Rhodri Davies, Graham Halliwell, Tim Barnes, John Butcher, Keith Tippett, and – somewhat more surprisingly – the aforementioned David Sylvian, who in 2015 produced Playing the Schoolhouse, an audio assemblage featuring performances by Sylvian and Jan Bang, along with samples of Otomo Yoshihide, Toshimaru Nakamura, and Dai Fujikura. Sylvian returned to Confront in 2017 on There Is No Love, a collaboration with Wastell and Davies.
Playing the Schoolhouse, incidentally, is among the 22 Confront releases already available for purchase in digital formats via Otoroku, the label arm of London experimental-music club Café Oto. (Whether those titles will come to Bandcamp as well has not been announced.) And a few notable Confront titles were on Bandcamp already: cellist Seth Parker Woods’s essential debut album, asinglewordisnotenough, is available on his personal page, while bassist Simon H. Fell has issued three of his Confront titles – including Klinker, a recently issued recording of an August 2000 performance by Derek Bailey’s Company, featuring Fell, Wastell, and tap dancer Will Gaines – on the Bandcamp page of his own label, Bruce’s Fingers.
Enticingly, though, the first batch of titles on the Confront site are some of the label’s earliest efforts, rarities issued in tiny editions and long out of print, featuring Wastell, Davies, Halliwell, Chris Burn, Phil Durrant, and others. You can read up on the origin and aims of Confront in an extended interview with Wastell posted on davidsylvian.net, then sign up to follow the Confront Bandcamp page for news of further releases.
New This Week
Smokey Emery – Soundtracks for Invisibility Vol. IV: Photo of a Painting (Holodeck)
Michael Hersch – Violin Concerto; end stages – Patricia Kopatchinskaja, International Contemporary Ensemble/Tito Muñoz; Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (New Focus) Resina – Traces (130701) Robert Rich and Markus Reuter – Flood Expeditions: The Gatherings, 19 May 2018 (self-released) Lori Scacco – Desire Loop (Mysteries of the Deep)
Melaine Dalibert – Musique pour le lever du jour (elsewhere) Biliana Voutchkova/Michael Thieke – Blurred Music (elsewhere)
☆ Luciano Berio – Sinfonia; Pierre Boulez – Notations I-IV; Maurice Ravel – La valse – Roomful of Teeth, Seattle Symphony/Ludovic Morlot (Seattle Symphony Media)
Forma – Semblance (Kranky) Jacob Greenberg – Hanging Gardens – music by Debussy, Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern, with Tony Arnold (New Focus)
Punch Brothers – All Ashore (Nonesuch)
Mary Halvorson – The Maid with the Flaxen Hair – A Tribute to Johnny Smith – duets with Bill Frisell (Tzadik) ☆ Eiko Ishibashi & Darin Gray – Ichida (Black Truffle)
Davy Mooney & Ko Omura – Benign Strangers (Sunnyside) ☆ Francis Plagne & Crys Cole – Two Words (Black Truffle)
Alex Jang – momentary encounters – Cristián Alvear, Heather Roche, Apartment House (Another Timbre) Cassandra Miller – Just So – Quatuor Bozzini (Another Timbre) Cassandra Miller – O Zomer! – Mira Benjamin, Philip Thomas, Apartment House, Charles Curtis, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov (Another Timbre) Lance Austin Olson – Dark Heart – Terje Paulsen, Gil Sansón, Ryoko Akama, Isaiah Ceccarelli, Katelyn Clark, Mira Benjamin, John Lely, Anton Lukoszevieze (Another Timbre) Linda Catlin Smith – Wanderer – Apartment House (Another Timbre)
Josh Modney – Engage – music by Sam Pluta, Taylor Brook, Kate Soper, Anthony Braxton, Johann Sebastian Bach, Eric Wubbels, and Josh Modney (New Focus)
Various artists – Music from SEAMUS, Volume 27 – electronic music by Carter Rice, Brian Sears, Russell Pinkston, Robert Seaback, Samuel Wells, Nathaniel Haering, Jason Bolte, and Timothy Page (New Focus)
☆ Steve Coleman – Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 (The Embedded Sets) (Pi Recordings)
Eric Moe – Uncanny Affable Machines – performances by Chen Yihan, Lindsey Goodman, Jessica Meyer, and Paul Vaillancourt (New Focus)
Jeremiah Cymerman – Decay of the Angel (5049 Records)
Mikkel Ploug & Mark Turner – Faroe (Sunnyside)
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.