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 On 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
A fistful of picks
It’s impossible sometimes to select a single new recording as “Album of the Week,” and this week provides a good example. It’s not that nothing jumped out at me as being worth extended coverage; on the contrary, several recordings merit that kind of attention, for wildly disparate reasons. And I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of the new Liturgy record, Origin of the Alimonies—but when you see that the record includes a cover of Olivier Messiaen’s Apparition de l'église éternelle and performances by a coven of new-music superstars, including Nate Wooley, Josh Modney, and Eric Wubbels, then you understand instantly that scratching the surface won’t suffice.
So instead of covering one album at length this week, I’m going to recommend five new albums in brief. And maybe we’ll talk about Liturgy later… not least because so very much has changed since Hunter Hunt-Hendrix introduced this piece at National Sawdust in October 2018, and talked to Brad Cohan about it for National Sawdust Log.
Ian William Craig & Daniel Lentz
FRKWYS Vol. 16: In a Word
The newest entry in the impeccably curated FRKWYS series of intergenerational collaborations on the RVNGIntl. label brings together two disparate artists whose practices prove spectacularly complementary. Daniel Lentz, born in Pennsylvania but indelibly linked to California, is a post-minimalist composer whose works frequently involve layered voices and live multi-track recording. Ian William Craig, a tenor and composer from Vancouver, fashions heart-wrenching reveries with his looped voice and tape manipulations. Melding their approaches and techniques yields an ineffably beautiful collection of miniatures for piano, with and without voice.
Dreamt Twice, Twice Dreamt
Two years ago, the German saxophonist, composer, and bandleader Ingrid Laubrock issued an incredibly ambitious album, Contemporary Chaos Practices, documenting her original music for orchestra with improvisers and vocalists. That album, which revealed an assured voice buoyed by inspirations from Braxton, Ligeti, Lutosławski, and Xenakis, surely would have been among my year-end picks for 2018… had I not written the liner notes. Now, Laubrock returns with a fresh batch of attractively knotty compositions, interpreted by a small group and reimagined for a chamber orchestra, and I feel no hesitation whatsoever about recommending it urgently.
Joseph C. Phillips Jr.
The Grey Land
From the plaintive opening of The Grey Land, with its haunted allusions to Samuel Barber’s wistful Knoxville: Summer of 1915, you sense immediately the emotional weight composer and bandleader Joseph C. Phillips Jr. means to evoke. Billed as a “mono-opera” for soprano, narrator, chorus, and ensemble, the ambitious, gripping work deals with the parlous state of race relations in the United States. The libretto, assembled by Phillips, incorporates text from Frederick Douglass, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and others; one especially wrenching movement includes recorded testimony from the mothers of Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, and Sandra Bland. Played by a band adept at groove and flush with improvisers, the music mulls and mourns, roars and stomps. That the album arrives at yet another flashpoint in U.S. history elevates The Grey Land from a breakthrough piece to a necessary statement.
The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound
Bobby Zankel, a saxophonist, bandleader, and composer born in Brooklyn and long based in Philadelphia, is known for his work alongside towering presences like Cecil Taylor, Odean Pope, and Hank Mobley. In 2001 he assembled a versatile big band, Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, which serves as a vehicle for his own music as well as works commissioned from creative-music luminaries. In 2012 Zankel tapped avant-garde patriarch Muhal Richard Abrams; what resulted was SoundPath, a festive, episodic celebration of expressive individuality and hard-swinging massed exuberance. The account here, captured in 2018, was conducted by Marty Ehrlich, a longtime Abrams collaborator, just months after the composer’s passing, and stands now as a testament to his towering influence and impact on American music.
I first became aware of Matthew Wright, a British composer, sound artist, and turntablist, when he participated in the 2010 MATA Festival in New York City, presenting an interactive installation and a duo set with the imposing saxophonist Evan Parker at (Le) Poisson Rouge in an event I reviewed for The New York Times. That evening came back to me vividly as I listened to the disembodied flutters and crackles of Locked Hybrids, in which Wright uses recorded improvisations by Parker and percussionists Toma Gouband and Mark Nauseef as features in his vivid imaginary soundscapes. Incidentally, this digital-only release arrives just in time to herald a live remix Wright will present online, Saturday, Nov. 21, at 9pm U.K. time (4pm EST), during the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival; read more about it here.
The ecstasy of minimalism
Newly published by The New Yorker is my wee, pithy “Goings On About Town” capsule review of Drift Multiply, a fantastic recording of a Tristan Perich composition for 50 violins and 50 channels of 1-bit electronics. The album came out last Friday, Nov. 13, jointly issued by New Amsterdam and Nonesuch. It’s streaming in all the usual places now, and you definitely want to hear it.
New This Week
Cristiano Bocci - ANAGRAMMI - Francesco Arrighi, Mara Lepore (Unexplained Sounds Group)
Ian William Craig & Daniel Lentz - FRKWYS Vol. 16: In a Word (RVNGIntl.)
Dave Gisler Trio with Jaimie Branch - Zurich Concert (Intakt)
Magnus Granberg - Come Down to Earth Where Sorrow Dwelleth (Meenna)
Nakul Krishnamurthy - Tesserae (Takuroku)
Kelly Jayne Jones - the reed flute is fire (Takuroku)
Ingrid Laubrock - Dreamt Twice, Twice Dreamt (Intakt)
Liturgy - Origin of the Alimonies (Wegawam Music Co.)
Rob Mazurek Exploding Star Orchestra - Dimensional Stardust (International Anthem/Nonesuch)
Ted Moore - bruit (Carrier)
The MIYUMI Project - Best of the MIYUMI Project (FPE)
Phicus - Solid (Astral Spirits)
Joseph C. Phillips Jr. - The Grey Land - Rebecca L. Hargrove, Kenneth Browning, Numinous (New Amsterdam)
Super Heavy Metal - Gong Splash Midi Midi (Hubro)
Toàn - Volta No Vento (Iikki)
Wang Lu - An Atlas of Time - performances by Boston Modern Orchestra Project/Gil Rose, Ryan Muncy, Dan Lippel, Momenta Quartet, and Miranda Cuckson (New Focus)
The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound - Soundpath - composition by Muhal Richard Abrams (Clean Feed)
Trevor Watts - A World View (Fundacja Słuchaj)
Matthew Wright - Locked Hybrids (Relative Pitch)
Yama Yuki - Panelaço (Takuroku)
Dezron Douglas & Brandee Younger - Force Majeure (International Anthem)
January 20, 2021
William Susman - A Quiet Madness - performances by William Susman, Karen Bentley Pollick, Francesco Di Fiore, Stas Venglevski, and Patricia Zuber (Belarca)
February 12, 2021
Ivo Perelman/Nate Wooley - Polarity (Burning Ambulance Music)
Senyawa - Alkisah (Burning Ambulance Music)
February 19, 2021
Cameron Graves - Seven (Artistry Music)
Roscoe Mitchell & Mike Reed - the Ritual and the Dance (Astral Spirits)
Michael Wimberly - Afrofuturism (Temple Mountain)