Today we are cheering for one of Philadelphia’s finest bands. Bardo Pond will release a new album, Volume 8, on February 2, 2018. We are fortunate that they have decided to share a track from the album ahead of time with us. “Kailish,” a rousing jam riven with flute and distorted guitars, is below.
Seeing its release today is the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra’s third volume in its “Black Manhattan” series on New World Records. The group specializes in neglected works by African American musicians from the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries. The sum total of their efforts on all three of their recordings is some sixty pieces by thirty-two composers.
The recording supplies abundant variety to enjoy: ebullient dances, reflective blues, and uplifting renditions of Gospel hymns. It has only created one “problem” for me: it is so good, now I will have to acquire copies of the their first two volumes!
Neosho’s latest video, “Time Traveler,” is part of the composition process itself. Using an Ableton patch that responds to visual images as part of the arrangement, they have created dizzying audio and video. Programming isn’t all that’s there however; there are also jocular vocals and a sax solo that could be teleported from the mid-80s. Time travel indeed.
Now, and Then
Orchestra Della Svizzera Italiana; Dennis Russell Davies, conductor
Pablo Márquez, guitar
November 17 sees the release of Now, and Then, an ECM recording of transcriptions by composers Bruno Maderna and Luciano Berio. In addition to his creative pursuits and new music advocacy, Maderna (1920-1973) was in demand as a conductor of classical repertoire. Rather than performing the instrumental music of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque eras with its original, reduced, forces, he made transcriptions of figures such as Frescobaldi, Legrenzi, Gabrieli, Viadana, and Wassenaer (all included on this CD) for the modern orchestra. They are successful arrangements, spotlighting the sonorous brass choirs that epitomize the antiphonal music of this era while deftly incorporating idiomatic passages for the other sections of the orchestra.Russell Davies leads sumptuous yet finely detailed performances of these pieces.
Berio (1925-2003) recreated his Sequenza XI for solo guitar as the ensemble work Chemins V (1992). It is a delirious, sensuous trope on the original, allowing the guitarist – in this case the estimable Pablo Márquez – plenty of virtuosic solo work, while responding to it with imaginative orchestral textures. Some of these serve to augment the percussive quality of the guitar, while others lengthen and sustain the pitch material, creating a haloing effect. Partway through, a thunderous climax in the percussion precedes the longest of the solo cadenzas, underscoring that this is no mere arrangement but a profound reshaping of the original.
In the United States, Russell Davies may be best known for his championing of minimalists. However, like Maderna, his catalog and duties have been widespread both in terms of repertoire and geography. Witnessing him, years ago, tackle formidably complex premieres with American Composers Orchestra, it is gratifying to hear him return to similarly intricate fare in the Berio. Now, and Then is an imaginative and finely wrought recording: recommended.
A video for “Ether Antenna” by Pauline Anna Strom has debuted on YouTube. Directed by Michael Candy, it features music from Strom’s new release on RVNG Intl., Trans-Millenia Music. I adore the video’s out there puppetry, which mixes the industrial and ecological in its tropes. Strom’s music is a pleasing amalgam too, of New Age and experimental synth vistas.
Úlfur Hansson’s new record Arborescence is out this week. The composer is originally from Iceland, but after earning a degree at Mills College now calls New York home.
Arborescence is an absorbing mix of ambience electronica awash with homemade synthesizers, laconic vocals, and the talents of collaborators such as bassist Skúli Sverrisson, harpist Zeena Parkins , string player Gyða Valtýsdóttir, and percussionist Greg Fox. The title track deploys these resources in a warm blanket of sound, but all is not weightless here. “Rhinoceros” features glitchy beats and bleeping interruptions in a welcome section of contrast.