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For the Record: April 23, 2021

Keeping tabs on new recordings of interest to the new-music community, on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, and digital-only formats—including two boxes of compositions and standards from Anthony Braxton.
For the Record: April 23, 2021

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 typically correspond to initial U.S. release, and are subject to change. (Links to Amazon, used when all else fails, do not imply endorsement.)

After publication, new listings are incorporated into For the Record: The Master List, a continuously compiled and updated resource exclusively accessible to paying 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.

Please note that all opinions expressed herein are solely my own, and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Anthony Braxton: Never Too Late to Celebrate

Anthony Braxton (Photograph: Peter Gannushkin)

In last week’s For the Record column I mentioned two new box sets featuring music by Wadada Leo Smith arriving in May, well ahead of his 80th birthday. (I didn’t mention the three additional Smith sets due before year’s end, but we’ll get to those shortly.) This week, there’s another birthday to mark… this time, belatedly. Anthony Braxton, the iconic American composer, improviser, bandleader, and pedagogue, celebrated his 75th birthday last June, and his record label, New Braxton House, heralded the occasion with Duo (Improv) 2017), an eight-CD box devoted to duets Braxton recorded with his fellow iconoclast, the guitarist and banjoist Eugene Chadbourne.

Most of the live components of the global Braxton75 celebration fell by the wayside because of COVID restrictions, unsurprisingly, though as the year wore on, online ventures proliferated in ever increasing number and ambition. (I was privileged to host one such presentation myself.) But now, as if to proclaim that the party’s yet to begin, two more extensive new Braxton box sets have just been announced.

Due from the Firehouse 12 label on June 4 – Braxton’s 76th birthday – is 12 COMP (ZIM) 2017, a single Blu-ray audio disc (also available in downloadable formats) compiling 12 examples of Braxton’s ZIM Music. Derived from the 11th of Braxton’s Language Musics, Gradient Logic, ZIM proposes a state of perpetual change: “faster and faster, slower and slower, brighter and brighter, darker and darker,” according to the press release. The first ZIM Music composition was presented to, but used only sparingly by, the quartet featured on a previous Firehouse 12 release, Quartet (New Haven) 2014).

This new box documents two years’ worth of further explorations, resulting in a compendium of free-floating chamber works just under an hour in length apiece, in which harps (plural!) and accordion are prominent. The core band includes Braxton with cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, tuba player Dan Peck, and harpists Jacqueline Kerrod and Shelley Burgon, joined by guests including Tomeka Reid, Adam Matlock, Jean Cook, Stephanie Richards, Ingrid Laubrock, Brandee Younger, and Miriam Overlach.

Then on June 18, New Braxton House will release Quartet (Standards) 2020, a 13-disc sets comprising performances by a stellar group featuring Braxton alongside pianist Alexander Hawkins, bassist Neil Charles, and drummer Stephen Davis. Easily one of Braxton’s tightest standards outfits, the fiery combo is captured in live recordings captured in London, Warsaw, and Wels. Among the 76 tracks in the set are Great American Songbook chestnuts (extended to admit Paul Simon), as well as canonical repertoire associated with Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane, and Wayne Shorter. (If you’re curious, you can hear brilliant examples of this band in action on YouTube.)

Neither of these sets is available for pre-order on Bandcamp just yet, so keep your eyes peeled… and a reminder to both labels that May 7 is the last “Bandcamp Friday” sale we know about. Just saying.

Album of the Week

Tristan Kasten-Krause (Photograph: Jordan Kasten-Krause)

Tristan Kasten-Krause
Potential Landscapes
(Whatever’s Clever; LP, CD, DL)

This turned out to be one of those harried weeks: one where you’ve got a stack of things you’ve got to do, but you don’t get around to them in a timely manner because a bigger stack of timely things materializes from out of nowhere, and yet you still really do feel strongly about getting around to the things that are especially dear to you, but would prefer not to be doing them at 3am on a Friday night.

If you know the kind of week I mean – and I’m sure that you do – then Potential Landscapes is a very good thing to have at hand. The new album by Brooklyn-based bassist and composer Tristan Kasten-Krause includes four compositions modest in duration, as drone-based pieces go: only one is over ten minutes long, and another is less than five. As influences, Kasten-Klause cites the music of Éliane Radigue, Jon Gibson, Phill Niblock, and Alvin Lucier, which instantly situates his practice within a realm of placid, shadowy surfaces hiding busier depths to varying extents.

As I type this, I’m listening to “From Thin Air,” a beguilingly frictionless showcase Kasten-Krause fashioned around the splendid voice of Lisel – a.k.a. Eliza Bagg – for the fifth or sixth time today. (The third time, I had to stop what I was doing and message my friend and colleague Lars Gotrich to ask whether he’d heard the track, which he had because of course he had.) You could buy the album for this track alone and be very, very pleased with yourself.

I love “From Thin Air” in itself, but I also love how the album’s closer, “Contra,” slips in while you’re lost in Lisel-induced bliss. A calmly obdurate tangle of string tone that ripples and throbs like time-lapsed Radigue, “Contra” demands to be admired on its own uncompromising terms, which I’m happy to do.

The album’s earlier tracks are just as gorgeous, if more directly appealing. “Dawn Looming” fuses the composer’s purring bass with ringing tones from guitarist Brendon Randall-Myers and percussionist Matt Evans. For “Euphoria Cancel” Kasten-Krause enlists violinist (and cheesemonger) Carol Johnson and Cloud Nothings drummer Jayson Gerycz, the latter of whom proves that drone can endure a sensitive, selfless drummer. Title notwithstanding, no euphoria is canceled—not even when the intensity ratchets up gradually to the track’s emphatic end.

New This Week

Arooj Aftab - Vulture Prince (New Amsterdam)

Tim Brady - Actions Speak Louder – Act 1: Solos and a Quartet (Redshift Music)

Tim Brady - Actions Speak Louder – Act 2: v-Orchestra (Redshift Music)

Tim Brady - Actions Speak Louder – Act 3: Voices (Redshift Music)

Ping-Chian Chen - Electrocosmia - compositions by Cindy Cox, Pierre Chavet, Elanie Lillios, and Peter Van Zandt Lane (Innova)

Tansy Davies - Nature - performances by Huw Watkins, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NMC Recordings)

Desertion Trio - Numbers Maker (Cuneiform)

Fraser/McCowan/Weinberg - Thip (Tripticks Tapes)

Rob Frye - Exoplanet (Astral Spirits)

Deidre Huckabay - Words for the Dead/Words from the Dead (Parlour Tapes+)

Susie Ibarra - Walking on Water - DreamTime Ensemble (Innova)

Masayuki Imanishi - insects are (Unfathomless)

IST - A More Attractive Way (Confront)

Tristan Kasten-Krause - Potential Landscapes (Whatever’s Clever)

Jenna Lyle - TAPE TAPe TApe Tape tape (Parlour Tapes+)

Chris Pitsiokos - Carny Cant (Eleatic)

Jen Shyu & Jade Tongue - Zero Grasses: Ritual for the Losses (Pi Recordings)

Andrew Tham - Tutorial Music (Parlour Tapes+)

Clinton Watkins - Raaswater (Unfathomless)

Scott Wollschleger - Dark Days - Karl Larson (New Focus)

ZM - Galloping Through a Wormhole (Parlour Tapes+)

John Zorn - Chaos Magick (Tzadik)

Just Announced

L-R Jim O’Rourke, Oren Ambarchi, and Keiji Haino (Photograph: Ujin Matsuo)

May 21

Julius Eastman - Evil N****r; Gay Guerrilla - Kai Schumacher, Patricia Martin, Mirela Zhulali, Benedikt Ter Braak (Neue Meister)

Keiji Haino/Jim O’Rourke/Oren Ambarchi - Each side has a depth of 5 seconds A polka dot pattern in horizontal array A flickering that moves vertically (Black Truffle)

June 4

Anthony Braxton - 12 COMP (ZIM) 2017 (Firehouse 12)

June 18

Anthony Braxton - Quartet (Standards) 2020 (New Braxton House)