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For the Record: September 11, 2020

Keeping tabs on new recordings of interest to the new-music community, on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, and digital-only formats—including three recent recordings of music by Michael Pisaro-Liu.
For the Record: September 11, 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.

Three from Michael Pisaro-Liu

Michael Pisaro-Liu
Photograph: Yuko Zama

This week, two arresting new recordings of compositions by Michael Pisaro-Liu popped up without fanfare on Bandcamp. The first one that dropped into my inbox was fields have ears (6), a fresh interpretation by the Chilean guitarist Cristián Alvear of a 50-minute composition from 2010. Alvear, a prolific guitarist best known for his many recordings of works by several generations of experimental composers, has issued music on esteemed labels from around the world. This pandemic-time live solo performance, though, went straight to his bountiful Bandcamp site.

It is, in a word, stunning. Alvear is as modest, self-effacing, and intensely focused a player as any post-Cage composer might hope to find, a performer whose every gesture is intended to serve the music. His amplified guitar wafts in and out of focus here, set among subtle sine tones, field recordings, passing samples of other music, and more. The soundscape is spacious and teems with detail; I could imagine hearing something new with every return visit—and I anticipate returning frequently.

The other new arrival comes from the Swiss label INSUB., whose co-founder, the sound artist known as d’incise, is paired with Canadian woodwind player Philippe Lauzier in a work newly composed by Pisaro-Liu. Alpha Beta Eros, a score derived from written language and correspondence, inaugurates a new series of eight remote collaborations, Insub.distances, that runs weekly through December. (Among the composers involved with future installments are Ryoko Akama, Clara de Asís, Sarah Hennies, and Jürg Frey.)

Lauzier’s bass clarinet and d’incise’s electronics strike a delicate balance, moving throughout from separation to accord—presumably in keeping with the thematic concept of intimate connection. INSUB. thoughtfully provides access to a performance video and an interview with the composer and players. “I was struck by the fact that when you write a letter to a loved one, you create at the same time that you’re writing the letter an image of them,” Pisaro-Liu explains in the latter. “And that struck me as being something like what we’re living though now.”

All told, it’s a generous and appealing project, one that portends much to think about and enjoy in the series ahead. (A discounted subscription is available.)

I would be remiss if I failed to mention one further recent project from Pisaro-Liu: Asteraceae, issued in June on the consistently fascinating label Sedimental, is the recorded debut of Pisaura, a collaboration of Pisaro-Liu with Zizia, the Los Angeles duo of Amber Wolfe and Jarrod Fowler. As stated on the Zizia website:

Wolfe composes musical scores from celestial maps. Fowler samples environmental sounds from terrestrial habitats. Zizia harmonizes celestial and terrestrial rhythms to create ecological sound art with field recordings, natural objects, and (non-)musical instruments.

Their project with Pisaro-Liu, named after a kind of spider, involves the layering of “a celestial map of our multi-composite astrological chart over a terrestrial map of greater Los Angeles.” However arcane that strategy might appear, the resulting sounds are extraordinary: unpredictable, eventful, esoteric, and strangely, deeply compelling.

I confess that I haven’t fully plumbed the mysteries of Asteraceae – you can glean quite a bit more from this characteristically detailed, engaged review by Brian Olewnick – but this is, without question, one of the most insistently beguiling albums I’ve heard this year. If you’d like to hear more than the single sample track on Bandcamp, you’ll find a longer cut posted by Boston experimental-music presenter Non-Event on YouTube.

New This Week

Eric Revis
Photograph courtesy Pyroclastic Records

Jordan Dykstra - The Arrow of Time - performances by Jordan Dykstra, Sara Cubarsi, Morgan Evans-Weiler, Jonathan Tang, Joy Yi, Nadya Potemkina, Laura Cetilia, David Mason, Miller Wren, and J.P.A. Falzone (New World)

Brett Naucke - EMS Hallucinations (American Dreams)

Michael Pisaro-Liu - Alpha Beta Eros - Philippe Lauzier, d’incise (INSUB.)

Michael Pisaro-Liu - fields have ears (6) - Cristián Alvear (self-released)

Eric Revis - Slipknots Through a Looking Glass (Pyroclastic)

David Toop - Apparition Paintings (Room40)

David Toop - Field Recording and Fox Spirits (Room40)

Cat Toren’s Human Kind - Scintillating Beauty (New Focus)

Joshua Van Tassel - Dance Music Volume II: More Songs for Slow Motion (Backward Music)

Newly Announced

Julia Den Boer
Photograph courtesy Columbia University

September 18

Philip Corner - Through Mysterious Barricades with George Maciunas (Recital)

FBPJBC - Jubliee (Recital)

September 25

John Luther Adams - The Become Trilogy - Seattle Symphony/Ludovic Morlot (Cantaloupe Music)

October 2

Devin Gray & Gerald Cleaver - 27 Licks (Rataplan)

Pat O’Reilly - TWO PERPETUAL MELODIES (Gold Bolus)

October 9

Rachel Grimes - The Way Forth—Instrumentals (Temporary Residence)

October 13

Lucio Capece & Ben Vida - Umwelt (Bocian)

October 16

Alexander von Schlippenbach - Slow Pieces for Aki—Piano Solo (Intakt)

Philip White with Nic Jenkins - Of the Air (Eliane Tapes)

Jeremy Young - Filament (Eliane Tapes)

October 23

Sam Amidon - Sam Amidon (Nonesuch)

Julia Den Boer - Lineage: contemporary piano music from Montreal - compositions by Chris Paul Harman, Brian Cherney, Matthew Ricketts, and Reiko Yamada (Redshift Music)

Charlie Morrow - America Lament (Recital)

Kiera Mulhern - De ossibus 20 (Recital)

Steph Richards - SUPERSENSE (Northern Spy)