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For the Record: May 29, 2020

Keeping tabs on new recordings of interest to the new-music community, on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, and digital-only formats—featuring the Album of the Week by David Grubbs and Taku Unami.
For the Record: May 29, 2020

For the Record is a weekly round-up of 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 release  dates is culled from press releases, Amazon, Bandcamp, and other  internet stores and sources, social-media posts, and online resources  such as Discogs.  Dates cited  correspond to U.S. release of physical recordings, for the most part,  and are subject to change. (Links to Amazon, where used, do not imply  endorsement.)

After publication, these new listings will be incorporated into On the Record: The Master List, a continuously compiled and updated resource exclusively accessible to paid Night After Night subscribers, found here.

These  listings are not comprehensive—nor could they be! To submit a  forthcoming recording for consideration, email information to nightafternight@icloud.com.

Album of the Week

David Grubbs and Taku Unami
Photograph: Taku Unami

David Grubbs & Taku Unami
Comet Meta
(Blue Chopsticks)

So well established and potent are the avant-garde bona fides of new-music polymaths David Grubbs and Taku Unami that you’ll be forgiven if you fire up the opening title track of their second duo project, Comet Meta, and wonder if perhaps you’ve wandered into the wrong album. I’m not being snarky here; I’m simply agog over the plain-and-simple gorgeousness of this splendid guitar duet, which opens a new album conceived during live dates the two musicians played in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Seoul in 2018.

“David Grubbs has the instincts of a gardener who prefers the thorns to the blossom,” Philip Sherburne wrote memorably in his Pitchfork review of a previous Grubbs/Unami project, Failed Celestial Creatures, coining an enviably tight epithet for an artist whose career path has trended from punk-rock prodigy in Squirrel Bait, via Bastro and Gastr del Sol, to his current eminence as a multifarious composer, improviser, singer-songwriter, author, and scholar. Unami, though less widely known, has blazed a comparably impactful trail as an improviser on stringed instruments and vibrating objects, as founder of the Japanese indie imprint Hibari Music, and as a mixing and mastering engineer for numerous releases on the influential American label Erstwhile.

I won’t hazard a guess as to which player is in which of my ears during the beguiling “Comet Meta,” which establishes a bruised lyricism I associate with Gastr del Sol and Grubbs’s subsequent solo releases—and maintains it even when crowd noises recorded during the New York City Marathon, dissonant buzzes, and metallic jangles surround the guitars roughly seven minutes into the 10-minute track. Is it Grubbs who plays the moody vexations on piano in “Mirror Auction at Echo Decor,” with Unami providing the throbbing drone that saturates the surrounding atmosphere? Who can say?

“Nothing Left to Hear but the Night” offers more twin-guitar shadowplay, mostly in a sunny key, including a beautifully carouselesque waltz near the end. The instrumentation is harder to nail in “Heart of the Thrumming House”—guitar, surely, but surrounded in a corona of shimmers and whistles, like a celestial harmonium producing chords made of light; a white-noise melée bothers the bliss five-and-a-half minutes in, but ultimately a humble acoustic guitar emerges at the end. “The Furthest Farthest,” a deliciously twangy reverb étude, and “Walking Corpse in an Old House,” a characterful live-concrète sketch for piano, drum machine, distant cars, and yapping dog, wrap up an eventfully beguiling musical conversation.

New This Week

Photograph: Shervin Lainez

Believers (Brad Shepik, Sam Minaie, John Hadfield) - Believers (Orenda)

Deerhoof - Future Teenage Cave Artists (Joyful Noise)

Ricardo Donoso - Content (Denovali)

Diamanda Galás - Litanies of Satan (2020 remaster) (Intravenal Sound Operations; physical release due July 14)

David Grubbs & Taku Unami - Comet Meta (Blue Chopsticks)

Roland Kayn - The Man and the Biosphere (Reiger-records-reeks)

Larry Polansky - These Are the Generations… - performances by Chris Clarino, William Winant Percussion Group, Sheila Willey, Giacomo Fiore, Nelson Hutchison, Christopher Mallett, Emily Sinclair, Douglas Perkins, Kate Stenberg, Vanessa Ruotolo, Amy Beal, and Genevieve Kromm (New World)

Roly Porter - Kistvaen (Subtext Recordings)

Robert Rich - Offering to the Morning Fog (Soundscape)

Steve Roach and Serena Gabriel - Nectar Meditation (Timeroom)

Claire Rousay - im not a bad person but… (self-released)

yMusic - Ecstatic Science - compositions by Gabriella Smith, Missy Mazzoli, Caroline Shaw, and Paul Wiancko (New Amsterdam; digital version released Feb. 14)

Coming Soon

L-R: William Parker, Gerald Cleaver, Daniel Carter, and Matthew Shipp
Photograph: 577 Records

June 5

Daniel Carter/Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Gerald Cleaver - Welcome Adventure! Vol. 1 (577 Records)

Invoke - String Quartet Smackdown VI - compositions by Nathan Schram, SiHyun Uhm, Stéphanie Hamelin Tomala, Cindi Hsu, Kazunori Tarumi, Russell Podgorsek, Ben Nobuto, Feona Lee Jones, Luciano Fernandes De Mello, Egidija Medekšaitė, Shuhui Yao, Nick Revel, Esther Pérez Soriano, Sahba Aminikia, Sevan Gharibian, and Agnes Ida Pettersen (Golden Hornet)

Molly Joyce - Breaking and Entering (New Amsterdam Windmill Series)

Matt Sargent - Tide - Erik Carlson, T.J. Borden (a wave press)

June 12

Eighth Blackbird - Singing in the Dead of Night - compositions by Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe (Çedille)

Endless Field - Alive in the Wilderness (Biophilia)

June 19

Alva Noto - Xerrox, Vol. 4 (Noton)

July 3

Alvin Lucier - Music for the Ever-Present Orchestra (Black Truffle)

July 10

Jacob Cooper - Terrain (New Amsterdam)

Amanda Gookin - Forward Music Project 1.0 - compositions by Nathalie Joachim, Allison Loggins-Hull, Angélica Negrón, Morgan Krauss, Amanda Feery, Leila Adu-Gilmore, and Jessica Meyer (Bright Shiny Things)

August 7

Quinsin Nachoff - Pivotal Arc (Whirlwind Recordings)