It's that time of the month again for the new releases show on New Sounds. John Schaefer carefully separates the wheat from the chaff for this show. He'll sort through the stacks of new CDs, the strange Soundcloud free-associations, and the highly anticipated digital submissions which have come across his desk and into his inbox over the past month to present some of the finest new releases. He'll skim off the cream. He'll pick the lentils from the ashes. You get it.
Jason Treuting, the percussionist/composer -along with his mallets, sticks, and music - certainly gets around. Treuting has made music with and for So Percussion, the Swedish folk-instrument wielding QQQ, the electronica duo Matmos, the Zappa-jazzy band Kneebody, and the guitarist/composer Steve Mackey, to name a few. On this New Sounds, listen to music featuring Jason Treuting as soloist, collaborator, and composer. There’s also music from multi-instrumentalist/composer Nick Zammuto, co-founder of the sonically and visually innovative duo the Books.
The thumb piano (or mbira, kalimba, sanza, likembe), consists of a wooden board with attached staggered metal keys, and is widely heard throughout the Eastern and Southern African continent. However, for this New Sounds, listen to music from Europe, North and South America, as well, using various forms of the African thumb piano. To start, there’s music from Zimbabwe's Queen of Mbira, Stella Chiweshe, a trailblazer who learned her craft in the mid-late 1960's when it was forbidden for a woman to play the instrument. Then, hear music by Nathan Davis which is inspired by the function of mbira music in the life rituals of the Shona people of Zimbabwe.
This New Sounds brings choral works with instrumental accompaniment, featuring music by Michael Gandolfi, Aulis Sallinen and Phil Kline all with string quartet. Plus, music by Richard Einhorn, Philip Glass, and recent Grammy-winner, Eric Whitacre. And more.
For this New Sounds, we’ll hear a collaboration between two giants - Bill Frisell and Brazilian singer/songwriter/guitarist/percussionist Vinicius Cantuaria - which melds traditional Latin rhythms with loops and improvisational jazz. There’s also music from global musician composer/DJ/tabla-playing/producer Karsh Kale. Plus, hear Afro-Indian sounds from Trilok Gurtu & the Frikyiwa Family who combine south-Malian percussive styles with the rhythmic influences of Gurtu’s Indian heritage. And much more.
For this New Sounds, hear some music from violinist/composer Jenny Scheinman, along with something from violinist Carla Kihlstedt & percussionist/keyboardist Matthias Bossi. These two, Kihlstedt & Bossi, have another record of music for dance, Still You Lay Dreaming: Tales for the Stage, II, a companion album to their 2009 release, Ravish, and Other Tales for the Stage. Also, indie chamber music from Clogs, and chamber folk from the Penguin Cafe Orchestra (not to be confused with the newly-formed "Penguin Cafe," which features founding member Simon Jeffes' son, Arthur.)
For this New Sounds, hear some modern oratorios and other sacred texts set to music, including Kitty Brazelton's "Ecclesiastes: A Modern Oratorio," Phil Kline's "John the Revelator," and Douglas J. Cuomo's "Arjuna's Dilemma." Composer, professor, singer, improviser, multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Kitty Brazelton has written a modern oratorio with texts from the Book of Ecclesiastes, re-translated from the Hebrew and Latin by Brazelton herself.
Listen to a bit of new music for trumpet and electronics by Nils Petter Molvaer, from his latest, “Baboon Moon,” on this New Sounds program. There’s also music from a lovely collaboration record between a Senegalese singer/kora player Ablaye Cissoko and German-born trumpeter Volker Goetze, a late-night gem combining West African music and ethereal, atmospheric European jazz.
There's music recorded in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan on this New Sounds program. Composer/vocalist Meredith Monk has just returned from a trip to India and Bhutan where she obtained recordings of young musicians striving - via the talent show, "Bhutan Star,"- to keep the traditional sounds of Bhutanese music alive. The program is an "American Idol"-esque talent show which forces contestants to sing the nation's fading traditional songs.
Listen to some music by bass players on this New Sounds. Hear the orchestral double bass, as represented by German bass player Eberhard Weber, along with the electric bass guitar, represented by the Swedish bass guitarist Jonas Hellborg. There's also music by California bass player Michael Manring, whose signature instrument, the hyperbass, he helped to develop and is designed for limitless altered tunings. Plus, music from bassist/composer and jazzer/rocker Ben Allison (also composer of NPR’s On the Media theme) - his tune "Slap Happy" from the record "Peace Pipe," and more.
Listen to music from the Armenian diaspora on this New Sounds program. Hear the duduk, that distinctive double reed instrument, by the “Master of the Duduk,” Djivan Gasparyan, in many different combinations, from Gasparyan’s collaboration with Canadian-American producer Michael Brook’s electric guitar, to a work featuring the cellist Maya Beiser. Then, hear Gasparyan’s duduk in a work by the Italian pianist/composer Ludovico Einaudi. There's also music from the recent release by violist Nicolas Cords (of Brooklyn Rider) playing a work by Alan Hovanhess.
Listen to works inspired by gospel, early folk hymns, spirituals, and shape note singing on this New Sounds program. There's an intense and shimmering setting by drummer Jaimeo Brown of the gospel hymn “Everything is Moving by the Power of God," which incorporates samples from the rural Alabama gospel group the Gee’s Bend Quilters from their 1941 and 2002 recordings. On drums, Brown builds and highlights the ecstatic melody of the gospel group by way of crashy and tasteful washes of cymbals. Then, as the sampled voices fade away, that build gradually gives way to pianist Geri Allen’s inspired and passionate improvisation on the melody of the tune.
Philip Glass’s opera “Kepler,” about the German astronomer and mathematician who identified the elliptical orbits of our solar system, was written expressly for Landestheater Linz and Linz09. Glass based his compelling and complex score on the astronomer’s conviction that “without genuine knowledge life is dead.” On this New Sounds, we’ll hear selections from “Kepler” along with music from the Alloy Orchestra.
For this New Sounds, we’ll have at least a double-helping of guitar music, featuring some solo works by Marc Ribot intended as music for films: some are adaptations of music he has actually written for films, others for classic silent movies that he scored for his personal amusement, still others for films of his own imagination. These haunting and wistful pieces explore, as Ribot says, "the strange area between language and spatiality that exists partly in between music and visual image, and partly as a common property of both."
For this New Sounds program, hear music that falls in the space between classical and pop, as well as in the small hollow between chamber music and folk. There’s electronic chamber pop music by composer Son Lux (aka Ryan Lott) for yMusic, the versatile composer/performer collective, and some post-rock from the Arcade Fire’s multi-instrumentalist, Richard Reed Parry, in the guise of the ensemble, Bell Orchestre. We'll also expand the folk umbrella to include traditional instruments of Korea and Japan making chamber music.
For this New Sounds, John Schaefer catches up with the Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy, who also presents some of his latest music including a bit of his multi-media musical theatre piece, “the Hunger.” Based on the events of the Irish famine, this opera-in-progress incorporates the unaccompanied Irish vocal music called Sean nós, like Dennehy’s previous work, “Grá agus Bás.” In “The Hunger,” however, Dennehy knits vintage recordings of sean-nós into the piece and uses the writings of American non-conformist Asenath Nicholson to inform the main narrative.
The Italian keyboardist and composer Ludovico Einaudi joins John Schaefer for this New Sounds program. Einaudi’s latest effort is “In a Time Lapse,” recorded in a wooden room in a monastery near Verona, Italy. Listen to selections from that record, as well as a liberal sampling of his music; from solo keyboard works to pieces featuring forward-thinking violinist Daniel Hope, to collaborations with kora player Ballake Sissoko and duduk master Djivan Gasparian from Armenia.
For this New Sounds, we’ll listen to songs with a twilight feel – that is, evening songs. We’ll hear songs, both old and new - by Henry Purcell along with songs by Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake- featuring baroque harp, Swedish Nickelharpa, and viola da gamba on a record called “If Grief Could Wait.” The project is a collaboration between baroque harpist Giovanna Pessi and the Swedish singer Susanna Wallumrød.
Listen to music from the steppes of central Asia on this New Sounds. Hear the overtone singing of Huun Huur Tu colliding with the New York folk/world group Hazmat Modine. There’s also music from the Mongolian group, Hanggai, recorded in the WNYC studios. Hear music by Russian composer Anton Batagov and a Buddhist monk from Republic of Kalmykia. Plus, listen to other voices from the Eurasian steppes, including a singer from the Russian region of Buryatia, Namgar Lhasaranova, whose 4-person group goes by “Namgar,” and performs traditional Buryat and Mongolian music.
For this second installation of Robert Fripp's Soundscapes as part of New Sounds Live, we present performances that were recorded on the evenings of both Dec. 3 and Dec. 4, 2010. These performances might possibly have been the last major public outings for the English guitarist, composer, and founder of the prog-rock band, King Crimson.
Hear works for acoustic instruments and electronics, with the combinations of piano and electronics, violin and electronics, or a small ensemble using no electronics at all on this New Sounds program. We'll listen to Open Graves with Stuart Dempster recorded way down in a water cistern, which sounds very processed, although it was all acoustic.
The late British composer, Steve Martland was one of the more quirky composers heard on New Sounds as long ago as the 1980’s. A refugee from punk rock, he studied with Louis Andriessen, before forming his own ensemble. He passed away earlier this week, at the age of 53. For this New Sounds, we remember him by revisiting live performances by the Steve Martland Band from the annual Bang on a Can Music Marathon, recorded at Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2000. Listen to a piece of English folk music adapted to serve the purpose of being connected to football, “Kick,” along with a major work written for the Bang on a Can All-Stars, “Horses of Instruction,” which sounds like a muscular jazz-funk summit between Reich and Stravinsky. There's also a performance of a short work, “Re-mix.” Martland introduced each piece from the stage, as well as conducted his ensemble.
Listen to some of the musical scores for Bill Morrison's silent films on this New Sounds program. There’s a mix of brass ensemble & electronics in Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score to “The Miners’ Hymns,” a documentary that depicts an ill-fated mining community in England. One "can almost hear the cavernous mineshafts and their ominous heritage in the brutal electronic treatments, and hear the creaking, crumbling landscapes beneath the haunting brass." (Boomkat)
There’s world music from Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Poland, and other parts of Europe on this New Sounds show. Listen to music from Caspian Hat Dance which suggests the Mediterranean, along with music that is Sardinian in origin, and music sung in Frisian, a language spoken only in the northern part of Holland. Then, hear Czech music from Marta Topferova along with revolutionary gore songs and hardcore folk from Poland. Plus, a mostly-immigrant, multi-ethnic band based in Italy reinvents music from all over the world, Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio, and more.
For this New Sounds, there’s pattern music with interlocking rhythms, either drawn from Indonesian gamelan - those metallic orchestras and court ensembles from the islands of Java and Bali- or from the parallel “systems” music of Steve Reich and others. Listen to music from harpist Zeena Parkins and her new band-semble, the Adorables, who combine a core of harp with percussion and electronics for something completely unexpected. There’s also music from NYC-based Patrick Grant who serves his post-minimalism with a twist of Rock and Balinese gamelan. Plus, hear the Celtic-Balinese tapestry of Matthew Welch’s Blarvuster and film music (not Tubular Bells) from Mike Oldfield, and more.
There’s an hour of music for far-off places on this New Sounds program. Listen to a work written by Princeton professor Paul Lansky, called “Travel Diary.” From a new recording by the Meehan/Perkins Duo, the work is a "kind of meditation on travel particularly for those who don't do it that much." Parts were inspired by an actual cross-country trip taken by the composer and his family, wrong turns and a younger child asking "Are we there yet?"
When Icelandic art-rock band Sigur Rós (sometimes falling into classical or minimalist camps, sometimes labeled post-rock, but always ethereal) was on a short hiatus, their members were busy, either spending time with their babies or presenting world premieres. On November 15, 2010, John Schaefer was on location at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle near Lincoln Center for the White Light Festival where Kjartan Sveinsson (Sigur Rós multi-instrumentalist) and Jónsi Birgisson (voice of Sigur Rós) presented new works. For this New Sounds, we’ll sample some of these live performances.
For this New Sounds, listen to indie artists straddle the divide between world music, ambient and electronica as they incorporate or approximate traditional instruments, traditional sounds, and take the results well out of indie rock-land. We'll hear from the Tradi-Mods Vs Rockers record, the latest in the Congotronics series, where carefully chosen artists have recorded homages to the original source material - landing someplace between reinventions and cover versions, and often go as far as being worthy of the dancefloor.
Listen to music for multiple stringed instruments on this New Sounds. Hear a work from “Recursions,” the solo record by violist Nicholas Cords, who is both a member of the string quartet Brooklyn Rider and Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. Cords’ five-part suite, “Five Migrations,” builds looped melodies that range from the thoughtful to the propulsive, with stops at the Penguin Café and along the Silk Road. There’s also music for multiple violins with music from Todd Reynolds, for multiple cellos by Zoe Keating, and perhaps music performed by double-bass player Robert Black of the Bang on a Can All-Stars.
For this New Sounds, hear some world music from Congo, in both Staff Benda Bilili and the Congolese-Belgian rapper Baloji. Staff Benda Bilili are a 8-piece group of street musicians who used to live & play around the grounds of the zoo in Kinshasa. They'll serve up some rumba-rooted grooves, overlaid with vibrant vocals and tin-can guitar solos.
This New Sounds program samples a world of ambient works, with music from composers based in Iceland, Germany, Scotland, Poland, Sweden, and a work from a Brooklyn-based metal guitarist. Listen to pulsing percussive ambient music by Berlin-based Nils Frahm, along with some stasis music featuring harpsichord by the Polish composer Jacaszek. Then, from Iceland, there's a score from composer, producer (and former metalhead) Olafur Arnalds, "Another Happy Day," with electro-acoustic soundscapes formed around piano and strings.