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For the Record: October 23, 2020

Keeping tabs on new recordings of interest to the new-music community, on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, and digital-only formats—with an Album of the Week presenting speculative sonorities by Marc Sabat.
For the Record: October 23, 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 nightafternight@icloud.com.

Album of the Week

Marc Sabat
Photograph: Natalie Pfeiffer

Marc Sabat
Gioseffo Zarlino
Harmonic Space Orchestra
(Sacred Realism)

…anyone who is open to listening might hopefully also be able to appreciate my music. I am more curious what somebody who is just an interested listener says about their direct experience than the analysis of somebody who knows all the technical details. But I do not necessarily think that my music will reach every person. Everyone is very different and it is true that some things are only for very small, special audiences, like some very particular type of food or a very special plant that does not grow everywhere.
—Marc Sabat, speaking with Ondrej Vesely in The Brooklyn Rail

No offense to the many fine records issued today (seriously), but last week, you’ll recall, was overabundant with remarkable new releases. Over the last few days, I’ve found one of them profoundly compelling.

I first heard of Marc Sabat when the intrepid British label Another Timbre released its invaluable, illuminating Canadian Composers Series in 2017 and 2018. Sabat, a Canadian composer of Ukrainian descent who’s been based in Berlin since 1999, was represented in that series by a splendid disc, Harmony, recorded by JACK Quartet (in its acronymic O.G. lineup).

Nick Storring – himself a compelling composer and cellist, and the annotator of the Canadian Composers Series – profiled Sabat in depth for Musicworks in 2016. The article goes deep into Sabat’s methods and motivations, and I’ll commend you to go there for technical illumination. The JACK disc is warmly recommended, of course. So, too, is nocturnes & lullabies, a recital disc by the superb pianist Richard Valitutto that came out on New Focus in March 2020—exactly the worst possible time to get noticed. That album includes Sabat’s Nocturne, in a sympathetic, appealing context.

All of which said, I don’t feel compelled to wax super analytical about Gisoeffo Zarlino, issued last week on Sacred Realism, a German imprint operated by the composer-performer-curator cabal of Bryan Eubanks, Andrew Lafkas, Catherine Lamb, and Rebecca Lane. The last two mentioned are part of the Harmonic Space Orchestra, the lineup of which differs here from that found on Prisma Interius VII & VIII, an album of Lamb’s music the label issued the same day.

Gioseffo Zarlino is named after an actual person – a 16th century Italian theorist, composer, and Franciscan monk – and involves the creation of a sonic space that could represent the spirit of innovation Sabat finds in Zarlino’s work. (You can hear quite a lovely example here, and there’s more where that came from.)

I appreciate the concept, here and in other works Sabat has created in this vein. But to be completely candid, it’s not the intellectual concept that keeps me coming back right now, but rather the untroubled, unpretentious slowness and evident simplicity in this music.

The structure is minimalism of a sort: notes and patterns repeating at length and with no alteration in rhythmic regularity. But as the music cycles through its repetitions over the course of 72 minutes, the instrumentation changes, slowly and gradually. The effect is like being in an empty room filled with light that changes hue so gradually, you barely notice what’s happening until it’s happened. It’s a sanctuary filled with luminescence, balancing a grounding in repetition with a mode of continuous change that fosters contemplation and calm.

And who among us couldn’t use that?

New This Week

Joel Ross
Photograph: Lauren Desberg

Sam Amidon - Sam Amidon (Nonesuch)

David Bird - Mirrors (self-released)

Diana Golden/Shawn Chang - Tanbou Kache - compositions by Justin Élie, Werner Jaegerhuber, Frantz Casséus, Carmen Brouard, Julio Racine, Daniel Bernard Roumain, and Jean “Rudy” Perrault (New Focus)

Eric Heilner - Modern Sounds in Classical Music - performances by Leah Asher, Erica Dohi, Laura Cocks, John Hong, Laura Thompson, Teddy Kumpel, Nardo Poy, “Blue” Lou Marini, and others (self-released)

junctQín - reTHiNK  - compositions by Monica Pearce, Emily Doolittle, Tomi Raisanen, Chris Thornborrow, Alex Eddington, Elisha Denburg, and others (Redshift)

Kaki King - Modern Yesterdays (Cantaloupe Music)

Jacqueline Leclair - Music for English Horn Alone - compositions by Meera Gudipati, Hannah Kendall, Faye-Ellen Silverman, Jenni Brandon, Karola Obermüller, Lisa Bielawa, and Cecilia Arditto (New Focus)

Oliver Leith - Balloon (SN Variations)

Charlie Morrow - America Lament (Recital)

Kiera Mulhern - De ossibus 20 (Recital)

Steph Richards - SUPERSENSE (Northern Spy)

Joel Ross - Who Are You? (Blue Note)

Mikel Rouse - ~/Library/Mouth/Congress/ (Exitmusic)

Schnee (Christof Kurzmann & Burkhard Stangl) - Снег (Mikroton)

Luke Stewart - Exposure Quartet (Astral Spirits)

Akio Suzuki - Zeitstudie (Room40)

Just Announced

Mariel Roberts
Photograph courtesy of the artist

November 6

Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell - Spiders (Out of Your Head)

Nicholas Cords - Touch Harmonious - compositions by Anna Clyne, Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, Dana Lyn, and others (In a Circle)

Middle Blue - Weird Funk in Small Bars (Ropeadope)

Strings & Timpani - Voice & Strings & Timpani (Hubro)

November 10

Melaine Dalibert - Infinite Ascent (Elsewhere)

Jürg Frey - l’air, l’instant – deux pianos - Dante Boon, Reinier Van Houdt (Elsewhere)

Giacinto Scelsi - Suite No. 9 (“Ttai”); Quattro illustrazioni; Un Adieu - Shira Legmann (Elsewhere)

November 20

Rob Mazurek Exploding Star Orchestra - Dimensional Stardust (International Anthem/Nonesuch)

November 27

Ensemble Consensus - Song Cycling (Infrequent Seams)

December 4

Sigur Rós - Odin’s Raven Magic (Krunk)

Anna Thorvaldsdottir - Sola - Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti (New Focus)

Kirsten Volness - River Rising (self-released)

December 11

Bop Kabbalah+Voices (Ty Citerman) - When You Speak of Times to Come (Infrequent Seams)

February 5, 2021

Mariel Roberts - Armament (figureight)