For the Record: November 27, 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 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 email@example.com.
Album of the Week
Distant Pillars, Private Pillars
“I always had a hard time in my ear training classes, and growing up playing a pitched instrument, but never really considering pitch (I played the marimba for many many years), my relationship to pitch was always unusual. When I began studying with La Monte Young, my ears were really opened to the possibilities of Just Intonation, and what had been some simple experiments developed into a richer understanding of how pitch can function.”—Randy Gibson, in a 2014 conversation with Ekmeles
It’s funny how one single piece can color your impression of a artist. When I think of Randy Gibson, who states of himself that he “composes with sound, time, light, and space,” somehow I tend to think about extremely long duration. This presumably is a result of several pieces Gibson hasn’t recorded, the existence of which I know about either from experience or anecdotally, and one that he has: The Four Pillars Appearing from The Equal D under Resonating Apparitions of The Eternal Process in The Midwinter Starfield 16 VIII 10 (Kansas City), a three-and-a-half hour work for piano, electronics, and environment, captured for posterity by R. Andrew Lee in a 2017 recording.
Gibson, formerly a percussionist, was inspired to compose after encountering John Cage’s Ryoanji. But he found his inspiration and methodology as a student and acolyte of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, whose teachings and body of work introduced Gibson to the effects of just intonation, drone, extended duration, and an environment attuned to a piece’s needs, and/or vice versa. (Even the title I cited above speaks to an affinity with Young’s singular canon.)
How soon we forget. Gibson’s first recording, Voices + Sine Waves (2009), comprises brief works exclusively. His second, Aqua Madora (2011), works its exquisite magic in the span of a single CD. Gibson’s musical language is capable of cohering at extreme length because of the integrity of his architecture, based on a set of rational numbers he calls The Four Pillars. But those earlier works prove the soundness of his aural conception, independently of duration.
So, too, does Distant Pillars, Private Pillars, which was issued in digital formats last Friday, and then arrived in an extremely limited 2-CD format today. Gibson’s newest offering is a product of pandemic-era strictures, assembled from recordings made by musicians in isolation: participants include trombonists Jen Baker and William Lang, cellists Meaghan Burke and Mariel Roberts, violinist Erik Carlson, clarinetist Carlos Cordeiro, and saxophonist David Lackner, all conjoined with Gibson’s sine waves.
But the new set is just as much a celebration of community, society, and the things we all share. All of the performers have some tie to Gibson and his work. Each was asked to record with windows open, inviting some aspect of the environment into the mix. Each provided a snapshot of the sky above, fused by Gibson into a composite cover.
“When the realities of the Pandemic came into focus, I was thinking hard about what it might mean to make a performance in this new world. I had this idea to celebrate nature and our surroundings, that we could come together in this virtual space of the recording and at the same time reference the fact that we are now all spending so much time in our homes. This is a piece about hope, about nature, and about ecstatically coming together in the shared collective space of the Drone.”—Randy Gibson, in a press statement introducing Distant Pillars, Private Pillars
What results is as eloquent an illustration of the group mind condition to which any drone performance aspires as anyone might hope to hear. Working with more than 20 hours of raw recordings, Gibson fashioned an 80-plus-minute sequence of dawns and sunsets in sound, accompanied by birds, road and air traffic, and other subtle incidentals. Aspects of fusion and fission apply: instrumental voices merge in close concord; fundamental tones pressed closely together prompt a dance of singing partials.
I’ve listened to the album closely through earbuds while walking outdoors, paid close attention to the music through good loudspeakers indoors, and let the sounds recede into the background while attending to other chores. In every instance, Gibson’s music has proved equal to the occasion: ready to reveal the magic of its virtual community, and just as willing to provide a space in which anyone simply can be.
It’s a marvelous achievement, and Gibson has turned it toward noble causes: Half the proceeds from sales of Distant Pillars, Private Pillars will benefit the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which defends and protect the lives and rights of Black trans people, and Fair Fight, an organization that promotes fair elections in Georgia and around the country, encourages voter participation, and educates voters about their rights.
Ordinarily, this is where I’d urge you to wish-list the recording on Bandcamp and then purchase it next Friday, Dec. 4, the last Bandcamp Friday sale date we know about right now. But honestly… if you want one of those 49 physical copies, you’ll probably want to act now.
New This Week
Amirali - Trial & Error (Dark Matters)
Black Unity Trio - Al-Fatihah (Gotta Groove; limited-edition reissue of 1969 rarity)
Charlatan - Sunset Nails (The Jewel Garden)
Adrian Corker - Tin Star: Liverpool (original television soundtrack) - Orchestrate/Ben Foster (Constructive)
Ensemble Consensus - Song Cycling (Infrequent Seams)
Randy Gibson - Distant Pillars, Private Pillars (Galtta Media)
Philip Glass - Piano Sonata - Maki Namekawa (Orange Mountain Music)
Jamaica! - Leon (Takuroku)
Lia Mazzari & Tom White - Lettura di Un' Onda (Takuroku)
Nublu Orchestra - Live in Skopje (Nublu)
Jim O’Rourke - Steamroom 51 (Steamroom)
Laura Ortman - “Rivers Piercing Twirl” (STTLMNT)
Ashley Paul - Ray (Slip)
Allen Ravenstine - Electron Music (Waveshaper Media)
Allen Ravenstine - Shore Leave (Waveshaper Media)
claire rousay & more eaze - “kyle” (new computer girls ltd)
J.Peter Schwalm with Arve Henriksen - Neuzeit (RareNoise)
Charles Shere - Trio for Violin, Piano and Percussion - Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio (Other Minds)
Asher Tuil - arbitrary precision (self-released)
Jacob Wick - Montreal (Puremagnetik)
Hardcell (Tim Berne, Tom Rainey, Craig Taborn) - The Cosmos (9donkeys)
Dana Jessen - Winter Chapel (Carrier)
Nick Millevoi - Streets of Philadelphia (self-released)
Prezens (Tim Berne, Tom Rainey, Craig Taborn, David Torn) - xForm (9donkeys)
Steve Reich - Eight Lines; City Life; Music for Two or More Pianos; Vermont Counterpoint; New York Counterpoint - Holst Sinfonietta/Klaus Simon (Naxos)
Various artists - Music from SEAMUS, Vol. 3 (New Focus)
Various artists - Music from SEAMUS, Vol. 23 (New Focus)
Claire Chase - Density 2036: parts i & ii (2013-2014) - compositions by Marcos Balter, Mario Diaz de Leon, Felipe Lara, George Lewis, Du Yun, and Edgard Varèse (Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Claire Chase - Density 2036: part iii (2015) - compositions by Dai Fujikura, Francesca Verunelli, Nathan Davis, Jason Eckhardt, and Pauline Oliveros (Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Claire Chase - Density 2036: part iv (2016-2017) - compositions by Suzanne Farrin, Tyshawn Sorey, Vijay Iyer, Pauchi Sasaki, and Richard Beaudoin (Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Claire Chase - Density 2036: part v (2017-2018) - composition by Marcos Balter (Corbett vs. Dempsey)
Max Bober - somos - Alejandro Peña Gutiérrez, Alejandrina Vázquez, Francisco Rojas, Natalia Jarosiewicz, Clara Peláez Hidalgo (Edition Wandelweiser)
Sergio Cote Barco - pink noise(s) in prime numbers (Edition Wandelweiser)
Pierre Gerard - imprévu visible inversé - Susanne Gerard, Pierre Gerard (Edition Wandelweiser)
Kevin Good - slow, silent, singing - Michael Jones (Edition Wandelweiser)
Sergio Merce - en lugar de pensar (Edition Wandelweiser)
Peter Streiff - chronos-kairos - Ensemble Neue Horizonte Bern/Urs Peter Schneider (Edition Wandelweiser)
January 1, 2021
Kinga Augustyn - Turning in Time - compositions by Elliott Carter, Luciano Berio, Krzysztof Penderecki, Grażyna Bacewicz, Isang Yun, and Debra Kaye (Centaur)
Elliott Carter - La Musique - Swiss Chamber Soloists (Genuin)
January 15, 2021
Scott Clark - This Darkness (Out of Your Head)
January 22, 2021
Iceland Symphony Orchestra - Occurrence - compositions by Daniel Bjarnasson, Veronique Vaka, Haukur Tómasson, Þuríður Jónsdóttir, and Magnús Blöndal Jóhannsson (Sono Luminus)
Jon Mueller - Family Secret (Rhythmplex)
María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir - Kom vinur - Schola Cantorum/Hördur Askelsson (Sono Luminus)
January 29, 2021
Loren Connors & Oren Ambarchi - Leone (Family Vineyard)
February 21, 2021
Alex Eddington - A Present from a Small Distant World - performances by Kristin Mueller-Heaslip, Jennifer Tran, Elaine Lau, Joseph Ferretti, Daniel Ramjattan, Alex Eddington (Redshift Music)
February 26, 2021
A Winged Victory for the Sullen - Invisible Cities (Artificial Pinearch Manufacturing)