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For the Record: July 17, 2020

Keeping tabs on new recordings of interest to the new-music community, on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, and digital-only formats—including a mesmerizing Album of the Week from Bing & Ruth.
For the Record: July 17, 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.

Swans Way

Yellow Swans (L-R: Pete Swanson, Gabriel Mindel Salomon)
Photograph: Suzy Poling

Active and absurdly prolific from 2001 to 2008, the Portland, OR-based duo Yellow Swans blazed ambitious new trails with their highly artful post-punk noise. Since disbanding, Gabriel Mindel Salomon and Pete Swanson have gone on to create all manner of further refinements, mutations, and elaborations. Swanson set a benchmark for noise-damaged techno on Man with Potential, collaborated fruitfully with the new-music quartet Yarn/Wire, and started a crate-digger’s dream imprint, Freedom to Spend. Salomon, meanwhile, fashioned substantial pieces for dance companies, including The Sensationalists and the prodigious triptych Movement Building. Both also extended their activities beyond making music; Salomon is working on a Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Cruz, while Swanson maintains a psychiatric practice.

Now, Salamon and Swanson have decided to bring their Yellow Swans output, all 50-plus releases, back into circulation via Bandcamp. The initial batch of five releases includes the duo’s first studio recording, Bring the Neon War Home, and two-part swansong (no pun intended), Going Places and Being There, all available in a variety of download formats. (Deluxe vinyl reissues of those last two titles are forthcoming via the in-house imprint of Manchester, U.K.-based Boomkat.) Also among the first fistful of releases are two early rarities, Detestifi Yellow Swans and Live During War Crimes #2, both available as downloads and on newly pressed limited-edition cassettes.

“The plan is to do the entire YS discography, all the bad, early, limited to 5 things, all the hoax releases, the things that Gabe and I didn’t play on at all, everything,” Swanson wrote earlier this week on Twitter. “It’s a lot. A lot of it is not perfect. It’s a sprawling mess and It had to be that way.” Each release page includes an oral history about the recording at hand, written by Salomon or Swanson—only as Swanson points out, again via Twitter, the two disagreed at times about details of their recollections, and then decided to incorporate that into the overall presentation strategy.

Along with the Yellow Swans material, a second Bandcamp site is devoted to recordings by other artists released on the duo’s indie label, Collective Jyrk. Three wildly divergent titles, by Axolotl, Ghosting, and Inca Ore, are available now in digital-only formats.

Recording of the Week

David Moore of Bing & Ruth
Photograph courtesy Beggars Group

Bing & Ruth

If minimalism is viewed as an aesthetic of paring back to essentials in order to reveal unanticipated depths, then Bing & Ruth could be viewed as an emblematic project—a house band for the notion, one might say. Originally launched in 2006 by David Moore, a Kansas City composer and pianist enrolled at The New School in New York City, the group first manifest itself on record as a gorgeous, unwieldy 11-piece pocket orchestra on City Lake, initially self-released by Moore. Rather than obsessive structural rigor, what Moore absorbed from minimalism was simplicity and focus. His meditative pieces, swathed in sumptuous, beguiling textures, revealed more detail with each pass.

By the time Moore issued Tomorrow Was the Golden Age on the influential Brooklyn indie label RNVG Intl. in 2014, Bing & Ruth had slimmed to a septet. Still, the group lost none of its luster, thanks in part to production reminiscent of classic ambient releases by Brian Eno, Harold Budd, and/or Daniel Lanois. The gauzy, ambiguous acoustic matched memorably with Moore’s soft-focus cinematic compositions. It made perfect sense, then, that Bing & Ruth transitioned to the iconic dream-pop imprint 4AD for its grandly splendid third album, No Home of the Mind, issued in 2017.

Species, issued today, also comes from 4AD—but the similarity to its predecessor mostly ends there. Moore foregoes his usual penchant for sonorous grand piano and densely saturated acoustics, opting instead for Farfisa organ with a pared-down trio of co-founders, Jeremy Viner on clarinet and Jeff Ratner on bass. The album is meant to reflect Moore’s newfound passions for the open desert and long-distance running: elements evoked not just in a cover photo depicting a child clambering down a dune, but also in organ lines that circle, waver, and ripple like heat haze.

Not everything on Species involves those obsessive dervish-dance gestures. “Blood Harmony” comprises a sequence of chords that creep up and fade away repeatedly, like nocturnal creatures peeking over dune tops, only to vanish when they sense they’ve been spotted. That track passes almost seamlessly into “Live Forever,” a drone-based meditation in which discerning the faintest edges of Viner’s clarinet and Ratner’s bass are part of the considerable charm. Moore’s continuous cascades of notes in “The Pressure of Water” impose a ritualistic intensity, not unlike like a harmonium meant to accompany some sacred rite.

Intentionally or not, the organ’s reedy plaint takes Moore back to the salad days of minimalist music, when that instrument was so prevalent in pieces by Terry Riley, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and other architects of a then-revolutionary idiom. Paradoxically, Species ties Moore closer than ever to those formative influences, while even as it breaks new ground for his own fascinating, beautiful oeuvre.

New This Week

Photograph: Liam Ricketts

Daniel Barbiero & Will Robin - Away from the Center Toward X (Plus Timbre)

Bing & Ruth - Species (4AD)

Collage Project - Off Brand (New Focus)

Bruno Duplant & David Vélez - Salvia Gris (Hemisphäreの空虚)

Laraaji - Sun Piano (All Saints)

Emmanuel Mieville - Salto do Cabrito (Hemisphäreの空虚)

Jared Sagar - Sounx (Hemisphäreの空虚)

Scanner - an Ascent (DiN Records)

Yo La Tengo - We Have Amnesia Sometimes (Matador)

Various artists - Hildegard Competition Winners, Vol. 1 - compositions by Emma O’Halloran, inti figgis-vizueta, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir, X. Lee, and Kayla Cashetta (National Sawdust Tracks)

Various artists - A New Age for New Age, Vol. 2 - compositions and performances by Keaton Snyder, Matt Evans, Julie Hill, Adrian Foeksohn, Travis Just, Robert Karpay, and others (A New Age for New Age)

Newly Announced

Michi Wiancko
Photograph: Anja Schütz

July 24

Nick Dunston - Atlantic Extraction: Live at Threes (Out of Your Head)

July 30

Alexander Garsden - Of Another (Duos 2019-2019) (Marginal Frequency)

July 31

Anna Webber - Rectangles (Out of Your Head)

August 1

Bruno Duplant - quelques usines fantômes n°3 (Flag Day)

August 28

Mike Fahie Jazz Orchestra - Urban(e) (Greenleaf Music)

Spektral Quartet - Experiments in Living - compositions by Johannes Brahms, Arnold Schoenberg, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Sam Pluta, Anthony Cheung, Charmaine Lee, and George Lewis (New Focus)

September 11

Brett Naucke - EMS Hallucinations (American Dreams)

September 18

Lumiere - Phases (self-released)

Michi Wiancko - Planetary Candidate - compositions by Michi Wiancko, Christopher Adler, Paula Matthusen, Mark Dancigers, Jessie Montgomery, and William Brittelle (New Amsterdam)

Coming Soon

Karl Larson (left) and Scott Wollschleger
Photograph: Catherine DeGennaro

Composer Scott Wollschleger and pianist Karl Larson discuss their work together on a growing body of diverse works—and share an extensive, exclusive video premiere.