Unknown Mortal Orchestra: “CKCMP (SILICON Rework)”

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Check out this “rework” (not remix, mind you) by SILICON of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s song “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone.” It is off of a 7″ coming out on 4/1 via Jagjaguwar. The band is launching an extensive tour (dates below).

Jan. 28 – Vancouver, BC @ The Rickshaw Theatre * [tickets] – SOLD OUT
Jan. 29 – Seattle, WA @ Neptune * [tickets] – SOLD OUT
Jan. 30 – Portland, OR @ Revolution Hall * [tickets] – SOLD OUT
Feb. 1 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore * [tickets] – SOLD OUT
Feb. 2 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory * [tickets]
Feb. 3 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre * [tickets] – SOLD OUT
Feb. 5 – El Paso, TX @ Lowbrow Palace * [tickets]
Feb. 6 – San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger * [tickets]
Feb. 7 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s * [tickets]
Feb. 8 – Houston, TX @ Numbers * [tickets]
Feb. 9 – Dallas, TX @ Trees * [tickets]
Feb. 11 – New Orleans, LA @ Republic New Orleans * [tickets]
Feb. 12 – Birmingham, AL @ Saturn * [tickets]
Feb. 13 – Nashville, TN @ Exit In * [tickets]
Feb. 14 – Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel* [tickets]
Feb. 16 – Richmond, VA @ The National * [tickets]
Feb. 17 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club * [tickets]
Feb. 18 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer * [tickets]
Feb. 19 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza * [tickets]
Feb. 20 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza * [tickets]
Apr. 13 – Visalia, CA @ The Cellar Door & [tickets]
Apr. 14 – Santa Barbara, CA @ SOhO Music Club & [tickets]
Apr. 16 – Indio, CA @ Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival [tickets]
Apr. 21 – Solana Beach, CA @ Belly Up Tavern [tickets]
Apr. 23 – Indio, CA @ Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival [tickets]
Apr. 28 – Sao Paulo, BR @ Beco 203 [tickets]
Apr. 29 – Buenos Aires, AR @ Niceto Club [tickets]
Apr. 30 – Santiago, CL @ Sala Omnium
May 7 – Fort Collins, CO @ Aggie Theatre # [tickets]
May 8 – Lincoln, NE @ Vega [tickets] #
May 9 – Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s # [tickets]
May 10 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall [tickets] #
May 12 – Lawrence, KS @ Bottleneck # [tickets]
May 13 – Memphis, TN @ 1884 [tickets] #
May 15 – Atlanta, GA @ Shaky Knees Festival [tickets]
May 17 – Columbus, OH @ Skullys Music Diner [tickets] #
May 18 – Grand Rapids, MI @ The Pyramid Scheme [tickets] #
May 19 – Madison, WI @ Majestic Theatre [tickets] #
May 20 – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium (Dempseys Upstairs) # [tickets]
May 21 – Winnipeg, MB @ WECC [tickets] #
May 23 – Saskatoon, SK @ Amigos Cantina [tickets] #
May 24 – Edmonton, AB @ The Starlite Room [tickets] #
May 25 – Calgary, AB @ Commonwealth [tickets] #
May 27 – George, WA @ Sasquatch Festival [tickets]
May 29 – Boston, MA @ Boston Calling [tickets]
June 17-19 – Aarhus, Denmark @ Northside Festival [tickets]
June 17-19 – Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands @ Best Kept Secret [tickets]
July 1 – Vilanova l La Geltru, Spain @ Vida Festival [tickets]
July 3 – Werchter, Belgium @ Rock Werchter [tickets]
Sept. 2 – Berkeley, CA @ Greek Theatre – UC Berkeley w/ Tame Impala [tickets]
Sept 3 – Berkeley, CA @ The Greek Theatre w/ Tame Impala

* w/ Lower Dens supporting
# w/ Whitney
& w/ Vinyl Williams

Brian Harnetty on Dust-to-Digital (CD Review)


Rawhead & Bloody Bones

Brian Harnetty

Dust-to-Digital 2xCD DTD-50


For label Dust-to-Digital’s fiftieth release, they tap composer Brian Harnetty, an artist known for blending vintage spoken word and field recordings with his own music. Rawhead and Bloody Bones features 1940s accounts by young people of scary stories. The contrast between Harnetty’s music, which references both traditional Appalachian styles and contemporary folktronica, and the recounting of often grisly tales in children’s voices, is at times startling. But there’s a very effective haloing of the voices by the music that provides a layer of remove, reminding us that these are “ghost stories” in many senses of the word.

A second disc of instrumentals brings the essentials of Harnerty’s creations to the surface, consisting of gentle electronics, vibraphone and chimes, solo banjo and viola lines, and sustained chords from saxophone and trumpet. Two very different sides of the same coin, Rawhead and Bloody Bones is the better for the inclusion of both CDs.

Aquarius Sings Arvo Pärt


Magnificent Magnificat

Arvo Pärt

Aquarius chamber choir, conducted by Marc Michael De Smet

Jade Music


This collection of choral music by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt celebrates his eightieth birthday. It is programmed to emphasize his interpretations of Marian texts such as the Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis, and O Antiphons, all of which are central to his choral output. It also includes an excerpt from the totemic Kanon Pokajanen, his largest choral work, as well as shorter excerpts such as The Deer’s Cry and I am the True Vine. (The latter is particularly beautifully performed.)

Aquarius, a group of twenty-four voices, seems “right-sized” for these works, with enough voices to provide the requisite heft and majesty where necessary while still being able to create diaphanous pianissimo passages elsewhere. Conductor Marc Michael De Smet does an exquisite job of shaping phrases, balancing chords, and, a very important consideration in the performance of Pärt, pacing the proceedings. I will be on the lookout for their complete recording of Kanon Pokajanen.



R. Andrew Lee Plays Paul A. Epstein (CD Review)


Paul A. Epstein Piano Music

R. Andrew Lee, piano

Irritable Hedgehog CD/DL


Prior to this recording, composer Paul A. Epstein was not a name known to me. There are so many vital creators out there that one must continue to search for them. Thankfully, R. Andrew Lee has recorded this disc for Irritable Hedgehog. It presents eight of Epstein’s compositions for solo piano: a delightfully diverse and stimulating collection.

In Will Robin’s excellently annotated liner notes, he points out that Epstein doesn’t fall neatly into the minimalist category. His interest in Sol LeWitt, Philip Glass, and Tom Johnson notwithstanding, there are processes afoot in Epstein’s music that share an affinity with modernism. Thus, we hear motoric passages brushing up against piles of dissonance and non-tonal canons. Some processes of pitch and rhythmic manipulation demonstrate an awareness of serial approaches: Robin quotes post-minimalist composer and author Kyle Gann, who likens Epstein to “the Milton Babbitt of minimalism.”

Lee performs this challenging music nimbly, with extraordinary verve and impressive rhythmic accuracy. The pianist has steadily expanded his reach to include many composers from seemingly all corners of experimental music. While one savors this recording, it is also exciting to contemplate what Lee will come up with next.





RIP David Bowie

David Bowie has died. This past week saw the release of his final album, Blackstar, on his 69th birthday. Producer Tony Visconti called the album a “parting gift.”

Reports of Bowie’s final years suggest a harrowing journey. His making music until the end demonstrates a truly indomitable spirit. It serves as a source of inspiration, particularly to those battling life threatening illnesses. As Visconti wisely notes, it was a valedictory gesture that embodied everything for which Bowie stood. Throughout his career he generously shared his life and considerable gifts with the world. He will be sorely missed.  Rest in peace.



Paul Lansky – Idle Fancies (CD Review)

Idle Fancies

Paul Lansky

Gwendolyn Dease, marimba and percussion

Bridge Records CD 9454


Not so long ago, a composer portrait CD consisting entirely of solo marimba music would have been unthinkable. Idle Fancies, a new Bridge Recording of Paul Lansky’s complete music for marimba, demonstrates that the composer, despite being a non-percussionist best known for his contributions to electroacoustic music, really knows his way around mallet instruments too. The three substantial works here, each different in character and demands, provide plenty of variety; something that, given the instrumental palette on display, is no mean feat.


Spirals (2013), vide the title, surveys a panoply of chromatic harmonies in swirling, constant movement. Three Moves are a simultaneously virtuosic and charming set of character pieces. The title work is a collection of six pieces. Lansky adopts the detailed ostinati found in his post-minimal music as a foundation on which to build interesting variations. Some of the movements incorporate additional percussion instruments. Used judiciously, at times these supply the proceedings with non-pitched punctuation; at others with a Gamelan-like ambience.

Marimba player Gwendolyn Dease is a superlative advocate for Lansky’s music, bringing out every nimble run and nuanced dynamic with accuracy and artistry. One can readily hear why he entrusted her with this project. Though this may be it for Lansky’s marimba scores, perhaps we can look forward to another large-scale work for percussion instruments, written, of course, for Dease.