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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recording of the Week
Photograph: Yuko Zama
The most potent new music I encountered this week – “GF SUC,” a dignified threnody for our present moment created by Keith Rowe, the veteran British improviser and founding member of the trailblazing collective AMM – appeared online yesterday, with almost no advance fanfare. The title, as might be evident to aficionados familiar with the Venn-diagram intersection of Rowe’s interests and those of Erstwhile Records founder Jon Abbey, stands for “George Floyd Screwed Up Click”—an acknowledgement that George Floyd, long before his murder in police custody on May 25 became a flashpoint for global protests, was Big Floyd, part of the extended posse surrounding iconic Houston hip-hop producer DJ Screw.
Rowe’s new piece is his second contribution to AMPLIFY2020: quarantine, the novel online music festival Abbey is producing in collaboration with two prominent sound artists who’ve recorded for Erstwhile, Matthew Revert and Vanessa Rossetto, with significant contributions from a select few guest curators. (An interview with Abbey published in April on Tusk Is Better Than Rumours unpacks the festival’s premise and guidelines well.)
Since March 20, the series has presented an overwhelming rush of 150 audio pieces newly created by artists in lockdown, including seasoned veterans, prominent names, and promising newcomers. Although a few collaborations have been created by juxtaposing tracks, the vast majority of the festival’s releases are solo creations. The recordings, all of them novel and more than a few revelatory, are posted for free-of-charge collection, with a gentle plea encouraging donations to offset income lost to the present pandemic. Information on Bandcamp is deliberately sparse; most pieces have been introduced concisely on the festival’s landing page on Facebook. (It was there that, in lieu of explanatory notes, Abbey seeded a series of favorite DJ Screw tracks in advance of posting Rowe’s piece.)
What has resulted is an avant-garde advent calendar of mundane sounds, diaristic entries, and recondite gestures and processes: one that often uncannily echoes the free-floating tension, enervation, ennui, and absurdity brought on by extended forced isolation. Along with the anxiety have come instances of ravishing beauty; Rowe’s previous contribution to the series, an assemblage / construct for 45 voices, found an improviser best known for rough-edged fields of textural signal-and-noise transforming a recording of a storied 17th-century choral work, Allegri’s Miserere, into a sublime meditation on time, memory, and the architectural shape of sound.
Signs of change in Rowe’s approach to making music are evident and understandable; at 80, the erstwhile guitarist has been open about his ongoing struggle with Parkinson’s disease during recent years. One remarkable aspect of “GF SUC,” though, is how consistent it is with Rowe’s creative practice stretching back for decades. The most prominent feature in the track is its slow sweep of radio frequencies: a strategy Rowe has employed since his early days in AMM, used here to evoke a plainspoken litany of dread and remorse in the wake of Floyd’s murder, concern over the coming U.S. election, and the still-present threat of COVID-19. (A fleeting snatch of the Go West pop hit “King of Wishful Thinking” seems bitterly ironic.)
The other principal element in the piece is a manipulated recording of a chamber-music performance: here, Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 15, in an account by the Taneyev Quartet. I solicited that detail from Abbey, who also helpfully reminded me that Rowe has been using classical-music recordings – principally early music and Shostakovich – at least since ErstLive 007 (Cultural Templates), which documents a 2008 solo set during an AMPLIFY festival in Tokyo.
That performance, supremely physical, culminates in a heart-rending incursion of “Dido’s Lament (When I Am Laid in Earth),” from Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas. (Rowe would use a similar strategy of climax and denouement in another essential performance released on Erstwhile, September (ErstLive 011), recorded at The Stone on the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.)
In an essay written for the now-defunct blog ErstWords, Rowe explained in detail the meaning that guided every choice he had made in Cultural Templates. Fascinating for its specific context, the article also provides a glimpse of Rowe’s artistic method that might help an unfamiliar listener unlock how a mix of Béla Tarr, DJ Screw, Dmitri Shostakovich, and a limited, precisely chosen range of unidentified sounds could result in something so deliberate, powerful, and cathartic.
In all honesty, though, no decryption key is necessary. Listen to “GF SUC” – whose roughly nine-minute duration surely isn’t a coincidence – and the dignified expression of rage and remorse Rowe intended is wholly, unmistakably evident.
New This Week
Photograph: Priscilla Scott
Ambrose Akinmusire - on the tender spot of every calloused moment (Blue Note)
Antoine Beuger - Dedekind Duos - Carl Ludwig Hübsch, Pierre-Yves Martel (Inexhaustible Editions)
Suzanne Ciani - Improvisation on Four Sequences at Festival Antigel (Atmospheric)
Whit Dickey Trio - Expanding Light (Tao Forms)
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)
Philip Glass - Epilogue for Solo Violin - Chase Spruill (Orange Mountain Music)
Aaron Jay Kernis - Color Wheel; Symphony No. 4 “Chromelodeon” - Nashville Symphony/Giancarlo Guerrero (Naxos)
Missy Mazzoli - Dark with Excessive Bright - Maxime Bibeau, Australian Chamber Orchestra/Richard Tognetti (ABC Classics)
Noveller - Arrow (Ba Da Bing)
Rage Thormbones - Rage Thormbones - compositions by Matt Barbier and Weston Olencki (Carrier)
Keith Rowe - GF SUC (AMPLIFY2020: quarantine)
Cory Smythe - Accelerate Every Voice (Pyroclastic)
Alexander Sigman - VURT Cycle - performances by Matteo Cesari, Discord Workshop, Ensemble Modelo62, Ensemble Phorminx, and Hajnal Pivnick (New Focus)
Various artists - Touch: Isolation - performances by Jana Winderen, Richard Chartier, fennesz sakamoto, ELEH, Oren Ambarchi, Philip Jeck, Rosy Parlane, Claire M. Singer, Sohrab, and others (Touch)
Photograph: Roman Koval
Peter Brötzmann/Fred Lonberg-Holm - Memories of a Tunicate (Relative Pitch)
George Crumb - Metamorphoses, Book 1 (Complete Crumb Edition, Vol. 19) - Marcantonio Barone (Bridge)
Ingrid Laubrock/Kris Davis - Blood Moon (Intakt)
Naomi Pinnock - Lines and Spaces - performances by Quatuor Bozzini, Omar Ebrahim, London Sinfonietta/Beat Furrer, Richard Uttley, and Ensemble Adapter (Wergo)
Rudy Royston - PaNOptic (Greenleaf Music)
Omri Ziegele Tomorrow Trio - All Those Yesterdays (Intakt)
Eunmi Ko - Unus Mundus: Tributes to Isang Yun - compositions by Ingrid Stölzel, John Liberatore, Eduardo Costa Roldán, Seunghee Lee, Alejandro Román, Girolamo Deraco, Christos Samaras, and Fabio Massimo Capogrosso (Innova)
Nicole Mitchell & Lisa E. Harris - EarthSeed (FPE Records)
PC Nackt - Plunderphonia (7k!)
Huang Ruo - Into the Vast World - Guang Yang, Huang Ruo, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra/Liang Zhang (Innova)
Thomas Adès - In Seven Days - Kirill Gerstein, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra/Thomas Adès (myrios classics)
Gahlord Dewald - Coherent Light Enclosed Without (Community of Sound)
Sun of Goldfinger (David Torn/Tim Berne/Ches Smith) - (Congratulations to You) (9donkeys)
Thomas Wally - Jusqu’à l’aurore - Thomas Wally, Mondrian Ensemble (Col Legno)
Andy Kozar - A Few Kites - compositions by Quinn Collins, Paula Matthusen, Ken Ueno, Scott Worthington, Tyler Harrison, Davíð Brynjar Franzson, Jeffrey Gavett, Heather Stebbins, and Eve Beglarian (New Focus)
Pacifica Quartet - Contemporary Voices – compositions by Shulamit Ran, Jennifer Higdon, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (Çedille)
Anthony Gatto - Wise Blood (New Focus)
Jon Hassell - Seeing Through Sound (Pentimento Vol. 2) (Ndeya)
Timothy McAllister - Notturno - compositions by Augusta Read Thomas, William Albright, Bruno Mantovani, Edison Denisov, Steven Stucky, and David Biedenbender (XAS Records)
Christopher Rouse - Symphony No. 5; Supplica; Concerto for Orchestra - Nashville Symphony/Giancarlo Guerrero (Naxos)
Dmitry Evgrafov - Surrender (130701/FatCat)
Wolfgang Rihm - Über Die Linie - Benedict Klöckner (Plaist)
This Heat - This Heat, Deceit, Health and Efficiency, Made Available, Metal, Repeat, and Live 80/81 (self-released digital reissues)
Hugar - The Vasulka Effect: Music for the Motion Picture (Sony Music Masterworks)