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Beat Circus: These Wicked Things

Read "These Wicked Things" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Boston-based band Beat Circus first got together in 2002, and in 2005 leader Brian Carpenter (the only constant member over the life of the band) began working on his Weird American Gothic trilogy of albums, which explore the rich culture of three American mythologies: The American Circus, Southern Gothic literature, and the Old American West. Dreamland (Cuneiform Records, 2008) was the first, followed by Boy From Black Mountain (Cuneiform Records, 2009). In 2012 Carpenter was commissioned by the ...

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Matteo Liberatore: Solos

Read "Solos" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Matteo Liberatore presents, with Solos, an unorthodox exploration of the acoustic guitar. He brings to his artistry preparation modes that include alligator clips, metal springs, bass bow and a kick drum beater (and the bet here is a bunch more), constructing soundscapes architectures that are bold, metallic, industrial and almost always un-guitar-like. In the way of John Cage-like prepared piano, the experience of prepared guitar creates unique sounds. There is a starkness to the sound, a purity that ...

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Dana Jessen: Carve

Read "Carve" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

The bassoon rarely makes an appearance outside of the orchestral setting though it has found a place in jazz recordings dating back to Paul Whiteman and much later with Chick Corea. The instrument is considered one of the most difficult to play but its natural range and dynamics are far-reaching and versatile. Add in electronics and extended techniques and you have a unique instrument going beyond its already exceptional array. That is what Dana Jessen has delivered on Carve, an ...

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Patti Cudd: Eos

Read "Eos" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Percussionist Patti Cudd performs as a soloist and a chamber musician and is a member of the ensemble Zeitgeist. She teaches music at the University of Wisconsin and the College of St. Benedict & St. John's University. She holds a PhD. In Musical Arts and a Fulbright Scholarship at the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music. As a performer she has appeared on more than a dozen albums and premiered over one-hundred and fifty works as part of her ongoing vow ...

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ETHEL + Robert Mirabal: The River

Read "The River" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

The long-running creative music string quartet, ETHEL, shares some common ground with the pioneering Kronos Quartet. Both share an adventurous taste for unconventional projects and unlikely alliances. ETHEL however, pushes their instruments far beyond the norm with electronics, amplification and noise and unlike any other ensemble of their kind they are more than comfortable letting the wrecking ball get disconnected from the chain. They have worked with Joe Jackson, David Byrne, Thomas Dolby, Muhal Richard Abrams and Vijay Iyer among ...

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Eleonore Oppenheim: Home

Read "Home" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

The high-concept and experimental nature of Home builds in a level of musicality that shines through peripheral effects. A big part of the charm in bassist Eleonore Oppenheim's solo debut lies in the variety of ways she uses her core instrument to interact with electronics, noises and vocal components. The Julliard alumni has worked with a wide array of artists including the Philip Glass Ensemble, Norah Jones, Meredith Monk and Steve Reich. Oppenheim also performs and records with a group ...

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George Hurd: Navigation Without Numbers

Read "Navigation Without Numbers" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

jny: San Francisco-based composer George Hurd doesn't subscribe to any of the monolithic definitions around musical categories. In his own creative process he incorporates classical chamber music, home-grown electronics and acoustic instrumentation. Performed by the rotation of players making up his namesake ensemble, his debut album, Navigation Without Numbers, presents us with eleven Hurd original compositions that are both open and enterprising works. Although Hurd's work principally focuses on electro-acoustic music--joined with modern chamber--he has written classical music ...

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PRISM Quartet: Heritage/Evolution, Volume 1

Read "Heritage/Evolution, Volume 1" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Not quite as well-known as the World Saxophone Quartet or the Rova Saxophone Quartet, the PRISM Quartet practices a unique approach to this category of ensemble playing. In part, PRISM takes a more direct aim on improvisation as opposed to the more blended method of WSQ or the openly free style of Rova. More idiosyncratic is the evolution of the quartet over three decades. When tenor player Matthew Levy founded the group in Michigan, its original mission was specific to ...

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Mason Bates: Stereo Is King

Read "Stereo Is King" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Modern composer and electronics artist Mason Bates is equally comfortable in the worlds of new classical and hip hop. Working closely with the symphony orchestras of San Francisco and Chicago, he has been a driving force in escalating the role of electronics in the orchestra setting. To that end, Bates has put years into the study of flow, process and the acoustics of the classical orchestra. The rewards of this discipline are shared with listeners on Stereo Is King.

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Phillip Blackburn: Music of Shadows

Read "Music of Shadows" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

UK native and multi-media artist Phillip Blackburn approaches the musical structures on Music of Shadows as part naturalist, part classical composer and brings the two elements together in an avant-garde narrative. Blackburn's works have been performed in numerous outdoor settings and art galleries as well as on traditional stages. The physical locations of performances are an integral component in his creative process and production as he looks to have his pieces exist as mobile entities rather than static works.

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Awakening Orchestra: Vol. 1: This Is Not the Answer

Read "Vol. 1: This Is Not the Answer" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Connecticut native Kyle Saulnier is both a life-long student and a working teacher of jazz. The multi-instrumentalist and composer leads the 20-piece Awakening Orchestra's debut, This Is Not the Answer and it is as rare an achievement as Carla Bley's historic Escalator Over The Hill (ECM, 1971). The latter work--more jazz-operetta in orientation and prescribed in its thematic flow--nevertheless shares many similar elements and the Awakening Orchestra has created no less of a monumental event. Subtitled, “Of Conflict ...

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Jason Kao Hwang / Ayman Fanous: Zilzal

Read "Zilzal" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

The music forged by Egyptian guitarist/bouzouki player Ayman Fanous and violinist/violist Jason Kao Hwang is alternately thoughtful, prickly, exasperating, mournful, and enchanting. It speaks to mysteries and histories, capturing and refracting the shared language, cross-cultural references, and mystic vibes that these two men have been cultivating and exploring together for fifteen years. “Zilzal" is the Arabic word for “earthquake," but the music on Zilzal doesn't always rumble and rupture the ground. Peaceful prayers ("Nilometer At Roda") can ...