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.
Album of the Week
Photograph: James Anthony Brooks
dynamics of vanishing bodies
The electric guitar’s capacity for crying out loud is well documented, yet I’m hard pressed to think of a lamentation quite so arresting as the one that starts dynamics of vanishing bodies, a 2017 composition by Brendon Randall-Myers. Partly that has to do with numbers: not one electric guitar, but four, in the expert hands of Dither, a New York quartet known for championing and – by necessity – expanding the repertoire available for such a configuration.
But it also has to do with the piquant tunings Randall-Myers requires from the players: this movement, and indeed the entire piece, demands guitarists capable of excessive physical exertion, but also precise retuning on the fly. The composer knows that in Dither – Taylor Levine, Joshua Lopes, James Moore, and Gyan Riley – he’s got the right players for the task, not least because he’s served on occasion as a substitute member.
Chords, clusters, and intervals jostle, merge, and shimmer like heat haze in “missing fundamentals,” the first of the work’s five movements, in a manner not wholly removed from the free stretches in a choice Sonic Youth live tape. That should come as no surprise, seeing as how Randall-Myers, like Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, came up under the wing of Glenn Branca, a guitar-wielding composer who knew his way around volume, intonation, and massed guitars.
Photograph: Kaelan Burkett
It’s no coincidence that missing is in the movement’s title, since deep personal loss and extended separation motivated this composition. Hefty, jagged shards of sound flash past your intellect, landing somewhere closer to the heart. But not everything here feels animated by the weight of grief and solitude. The blissful second movement, “auras,” twinkles like a night sky specked with pinprick stars and smeared with ambient illumination. It sounds like a music box crossed with a glass harmonica and plugged into a wall socket.
Next is “phantom rhythms (with singing),” where the whisper of electricity, coursing through plugs and wires, maintains a constant presence. The fourth movement, “trem chorale/harmonic melody,” taps into the obsessive riffing and confrontational snarl of punk rock, pushed right up against the border of black metal’s nihilistic buzz. (There’s also, at 4:50, a high-pitched tremor that reminds me of Steve Stevens slicing into the opening bars of “White Wedding”—but probably that’s just me.)
This music is physically punishing, but also detailed with fanatical precision; again, it’s hard to think of anything I’ve heard previously that behaves or resounds quite this way. And there’s one last coup in store, when “vanishing bodies (lines and loops)” arises from the dying embers of the previous movement, its eerie spiritual viscosity achieved with pedals and loops.
What results is saturated with an unearthly glow. Still, Randall-Myers doesn’t attempt to hide the subtle mechanical clicks and clacks of pedals being engaged and disengaged—a gesture that grounds the raw electricity of this uncanny music with the physicality of lived experience.
Goings On, Elsewhere
I wrote a brief review of Mass for the Endangered, composed by Sarah Kirkland Snider and recorded by Gallicantus, for the Oct. 5, 2020 issue of The New Yorker. You can read the text above, or on the magazine’s website, here. Then head to Bandcamp, add the album to your wishlist, and return next week to buy it on Bandcamp Friday.
New This Week
Photograph: Alex Sturrock
Concetta Abbate - Mirror Touch (self-released)
John Luther Adams - The Become Trilogy - Seattle Symphony/Ludovic Morlot (Cantaloupe Music)
Olivier Alary & Johannes Malfatti - u, i (130701)
Federico Balducci West Street Trio - la trépidation (self-released)
Tashi Dorji - Stateless (Drag City)
gamin - Nong - compositions by gamin, Theodore Wiprud, Anna Pidgorna, William David Cooper, Eun Young Lee, and Ned Rothenberg (Innova)
Susanna Gartmayer/Christof Kurzmann - Smaller Sad (Klanggallerie)
Beverly Glenn-Copeland - Transmission: The Music of Beverly Glenn-Copeland (Transgressive)
Zachary Good and Lia Kohl - Standing Lenticular (Parlour Tapes+)
Ricky Ian Gordon - Ellen West - Jennifer Zetlan, Nathan Gunn, Aeolus Quartet, Evan Premo, Djordje Nesic/Lidiya Yankovskaya (Bright Shiny Things)
Randall Harlow - Organon Novus - compositions by Samuel Adler, Matt Darriau, Michael Daugherty, Lukas Foss, Jennifer Higdon, Tom Johnson, David Lang, Libby Larsen, John Anthony Lennon, John Liberatore, Alvin Lucier, Ursula Mamlok, Nico Muhly, Larry Polansky, Shulamit Ran, Erik Santos, Jonathan Schwabe, Roberto Sierra, Augusta Read Thomas, Joan Tower, Aaron Travers, Ken Ueno, George Walker, Christian Wolff, and John Zorn (Innova)
Sarah Hennies - Casts (Astral Spirits)
Sarah Hennies - The Reinvention of Romance - Two-Way Street (Astral Spirits)
Eric Huebner - Désordre - compositions by György Ligeti (New Focus)
James Ilgenfritz - The Ticket That Exploded (Infrequent Seams)
Adam Kolker - Lost (Sunnyside)
Ryan Lott - Tell Me Why (Original Game Soundtrack) (self-released)
Bunita Marcus - Lecture for Jo Kondo - Bunita Marcus, David August, Ensemble Adapter (99Chants)
Nublu Orchestra - Live in Lisbon (Nublu Records)
Christopher Parker & Kelly Hurt - No Tears Suite (Mahakala Music/Oxford American)
Brendon Randall-Myers - dynamics of vanishing bodies - Dither (New Focus)
Christian Smith - 1,000 thoughts (self-released)
Sarah Kirkland Snider - Mass for the Endangered - Gallicantus/Gabriel Crouch (New Amsterdam/Nonesuch)
Kjartan Sveinsson - Der Klang der Offenbarung des Göttlichen - Filmchor Berlin, Filmorchester Babelsberg (Sono Luminus)
Various artists - All Together Now (AMPLIFY 2020: quarantine)
Anna von Hausswolff - All Thoughts Fly (Southern Lord)
Photograph: Shervin Lainez
Andrew Weathers & David Menestres - Andrew Weathers & David Menestres (Lurker Bias)
John P. Hastings - VVaves of VVagner (self-released)
Victoria Keddle - Apsides (Chaikin)
happy place - Tendrils - compositions by Will Mason (Exit Stencil)
Adeena Karasick/Frank London - Salomé: Woman of Valor (NuJu Music)
Juraj Kojš - People: A Love Letter to Humanity (Anticausal Systems)
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)
George Lewis - Rainbow Family - Derek Bailey, Douglas Ewart, Steve Lacy, Joëlle Léandre (Carrier)
David Hertzberg - The Rose Elf - Samantha Hankey, Sydney Mancasola, Kirk Dougherty, Andrew Bogard, ensemble/Robert Kahn (Meyer Media)
Candlesnuffer - Eggs from a Varnished Chest (Room40)
Scott Lee - Through the Mangrove Tunnels - JACK Quartet, Steven Beck, Russell Lacy (New Focus)
Tristan Perich - Drift Multiply (New Amsterdam/Nonesuch)