I trust everyone had a good time tracking down new music on Bandcamp Friday last weekend. I made a big list of recommendations: some brand-new things, some unexpected surprises, some recent favorites, and some forthcoming releases. But I happened to be on deadline for a publication not my present employer, so instead of producing a Friday newsletter, I made a Twitter thread instead.
Maybe that's for the best. This newsletter has 1,313 subscribers, not quite 10 percent of the 13.5K who follow my Twitter feed. Even assuming a lot of those folks scroll on past, I still reach a lot more eyes via Twitter. But I've always devoted my Friday newsletter to new and upcoming record releases, and I'm frustrated when I miss one.
On the other hand, I've been feeling a whole lot better lately about mid-week newsletters like this one, the kind that include newsy nuggets and event recommendations. Not that I obsess about metrics here, but the open rate for such newsletters is roughly 10 percent higher than for the Friday "For the Record" installments. Maybe that's just a weekend thing?
Thanks to recent adjustments in the household's morning schedule, I'm close to establishing a new routine. (Partly it involves leaving the "work" laptop closed until I "report for duty.") Speaking selfishly, I still want to find a groove that lets me reliably circulate a news and events brief every Tuesday, and a recordings blast every Friday.
In the meantime, I'm curious what's of greater interest to readers of this newsletter: news and events, the recordings roundup, or perhaps some combination of both? Anyone inclined to address that question is invited to do so at email@example.com.
Here is the news.
The operative. I never was a massive fan of the foundational industrial-music group Cabaret Voltaire, during its original run, though I admired its best known work, like Red Mecca and Micro-Phonies, and paid a lot of attention to bands that followed in its wake, like Ministry, Skinny Puppy, and Nine Inch Nails. But reading Rip It Up and Start Again, the definitive post-punk chronicle by Simon Reynolds, addressed gaps in my knowledge, forming a new appreciation of the group long after it ran its course. That book proved crucial in writing an obituary of Richard H. Kirk – a founding member and guiding light from the start of Cabaret Voltaire, its sole member during its recent reactivation, and an extremely prolific solo artist and collaborator – for The New York Times. Writing obits is an ambivalent honor, but I'm always glad for a chance to be published in the Times.
She's not there. One place you will not read me this week is The New Yorker—not until the new issue gets posted online this Friday, anyway. I wrote up a listing for the concerts featuring composer Pascale Criton with violinist Silvia Tarozzi and cellist Deborah Walker that Issue Project Room was to mount this week at Brooklyn Public Library. But just as that bit of prose was working its way through the editorial pipeline toward conclusion, the concerts were postponed. So I've filed my text away, and will retrieve it when the concerts are rescheduled.
Lost in this night. A chance encounter with an Instagram post by composer Sarah Kirkland Snider has me reeling in anticipation for a new album by a vocalist whose work I clearly don't know as well as I should. Certainly that's not for lack of renown: Emily D'Angelo has been an artist to watch for some time now, judging from all the achievements and accolades listed on her web bio. She's specialized in Mozart and Rossini roles, and participated in an admirable Vaughan Williams recording a few years ago.
D'Angelo's new album, enargeia, due this Friday, Oct. 8, is something else altogether: a juxtaposition of selections by Snider, Hildegard von Bingen, Hildur Guðnadóttir, and Missy Mazzoli, in fresh, novel arrangements. Her take on "The Lotus Eaters," a song from Snider's ineffably beautiful, powerful cycle Penelope, stopped me dead in my tracks. This is music I'm deeply passionate about, particularly in the original New Amsterdam recording by Shara Nova with Signal. D'Angelo's stylish account with das freie orchester Berlin, conducted by Jarkko Riihimäki and showcased here in an effectively moody video directed by Sonja Müller, is a worthy companion.
Honestly, a fair amount of what Deutsche Grammophon releases these days makes me scratch my head. (Then again, what do I know? Gramophone just crowned the imprint Label of the Year.) This, though, strikes me as a worthy extension of the storied label's standard for distinction.
Thoroughly modern milestone. Speaking of the Gramophone Awards, newly cited for Special Achievement is Boston Modern Orchestra Project, a hardy independent outfit that performs superlative service in support of neglected repertoire, while also expanding and diversifying the catalog and canon in meaningful ways. I've had the pleasure and privilege of writing about BMOP and its founder and music director, Gil Rose, on numerous occasions, most notably for Musical America in 2016, when the organization was named Ensemble of the Year. I could say more… but I won't, because I don't want to steal any thunder from an NPR feature I've commissioned to air imminently. Stay tuned.
Night After Night Watch.
All times listed are Eastern Standard Time.
509 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn
Thursday, Oct. 7 at 8pm; $20 advance, $25 at the door
Masks and proof of vaccination required
Free livestream (donations accepted)
You can count on Experiments in Opera for innovation… I mean, it's right there in the name. Here, the intrepid org collaborates with Bessie-award winning director and creator Mallory Catlett's Restless NYC to present an operatic adaptation of Yellow Flowers in the Antipodean Room, New Zealand novelist Janet Frame's tale of a man who wakes up in a morgue after an evidently fatal accident, and the tumult that ensues. Catlett directs and provides the libretto; EiO co-founder Aaron Siegel supplies the music, and the cast includes new-music luminaries Gelsey Bell, Shurmi Dhar, Jeffrey Gavett, Katie Geissinger, and Dave Ruder. (You can listen to a delightful sample of Act 2 here.)
International Contemporary Ensemble
Black as a Hack for Cyborgification
Target Margin Theater
232 52nd St, Sunset Park
Thursday, Oct. 7 at 7pm; free with RSVP
Proof of vaccination required
Free livestream with RSVP
59th St & 6th Ave + Bush Terminal Park, 43rd St. & 1st Ave
Friday, Oct. 8–Saturday, Oct. 9, times and locations vary; free admission
Outdoor performances (exercise caution)
International Contemporary Ensemble presents two characteristically inventive, wildly diverse projects this week. Black as a Hack for Cyborgification, created by composer-percussionist Jessie Cox and presented on Thursday, is described as "an open-instrumentation work bringing musicians and audience members on a sonic journey amongst planets." (If you can't attend in person, or don't feel safe doing so, a streaming replay on Oct. 12 is free with RSVP.)
Then on Friday and Saturday, ensemble members assemble in two alternating locations for GROUNDS, conceived by creative director and executive producer Jennifer Williams as an "environmental opera installation" showcasing iconic female-identifying Brooklynites like Shirley Chisholm, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Emily Warren Roebling. Billed as "devising artists" are Raquel Acevedo Klein, Isabel Lepanto Gleicher, Rebekah Heller, IONE, Shara Lunon, and Clara Warnaar.
Performing at Prospect Park's picturesque glacial cleft – historically a storied cruising spot for queer Black and Latinx men – Shepherdess, the duo of mezzo-soprano Kayleigh Butcher and violinist Hajnal Pivnick, offers a world premiere by Elizabeth A. Baker, along with works by Mary Kouyoumdjian, Annika Socolofsky, Mary Prescott, Paul Pinto, Bethany Younge, and more.
Harlem Chamber Players + Talea Ensemble
150 Convent Ave., West Harlem
Saturday, Oct. 9 at 7:30pm; $25, priority seating $35
Masks and proof of immunization required
Julius Eastman - Femenine
No question about it, this ecstatic 1974 composition by Julius Eastman is having a moment just lately, with a scrappy but sensational archival recording featuring the composer joined on the shelf lately by three more versions. It's not surprising to see an uptick in live performances, and this collaboration should be a joyous event.
Jessica Ackerley + Patrick Shiroishi
Private residence, Brooklyn
Monday, Oct. 11 at 5pm; free event
Extremely limited capacity; COVID policy unknown (exercise caution).
RSVP for details
341 Calyer St., Brooklyn
Tuesday, Oct. 12 at 7:30pm; $15
Masks and proof of vaccination or negative test result required.
Facebook event page
80 Franklin St., Brooklyn
Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 7pm; $15-$20
Masks and proof of vaccination presumably required.
Guitarist Jessica Ackerley and saxophonist Patrick Shiroishi are, for my money, two of the more fascinating figures in contemporary improvisatory music. If I had the time, I'd want to interview them both; seeing as how that's not an option at the moment, I'll direct you to excellent Q&As by Robert Ham for Ackerley and Joshua Minsoo Kim for Shiroishi.
Ackerley, a Canadian formerly based in New York City, now lives in Hawaii, and Shiroishi is rooted in Los Angeles, so it's a treat to see them both sweeping through the city this week. On Monday they'll play together in an improv supergroup with interdisciplinary artist Chris Williams (with whom Shiroishi recorded the intense, intimate Sans Soleil, issued in May), bassist Luke Stewart, and drummer Jason Nazary. Also on this guerilla showcase – the inaugural splash from a new organization, Bien Lit Presents – are percussionist Aaron Edgecomb and force-of-nature duo 75 Dollar Bill, plus dual art installations.
A shared bill on Tuesday at Mise-En_Place features MAW – Ackerley's deft structured-improv trio with bassist Frank Meadows and keyboardist Eli Wallace – plus Shiroishi playing with violinist gabby fluke-mogul and 75 Dollar Bill multi-instrumentalist Che Chen. Also on that bill are flutist Laura Cocks and clarinetist Madison Greenstone of TAK Ensemble, and Laura Sofía Pérez with live visuals.
On Wednesday night at IRL Gallery, Ackerley and Shiroishi revive the quick-witted duo they introduced on Extremities, a tape they released late last year. They're part of yet another densely packed bill that also includes the trio of Tcheser Holmes, Luke Stewart, and Isaiah Collier; a duo by Julia Santoli and Zekkereya El-magharbel; and a solo set by Lauren Tosswill.
Sans Shiroishi, Ackerley has two more bookings of note. On Oct. 15 at 8pm she's at Soapbox Gallery with moor'd, a quartet featuring pianist Rema Hasumi, cellist Maureen Kelly, and drummer Yuko Togami. And on Oct. 16 (time unknown), MAW shares a show with Jessie Cox at Downtown Music Gallery.
Read even more listings in Night After Night Watch: The Master List, detailing events for weeks to come, exclusively for paying subscribers.