Thursday, October 29, 2009

John Schaefer interviews Phil Kline about sound in space and his "Around the World in a Daze" Starkland DVD

In this video, John Schaefer interviews Phil Kline about his use of sound in space, surround sound, and his Around the World in a Daze surround DVD commissioned by Starkland.

Read more about Phil Kline's Around the World in a Daze DVD.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NPR to air music from Phillip Bimstein Starkland CD

NPR will air Phillip Bimstein's “The Bushy Wushy Rag” on Hearing Voices, beginning the week of Oct. 21, 2009. The excerpt (over 7 minutes) will lead off a lineup of baseball stories on this “Home Team” show from the Public Radio Hall of Fame. Their description:
“The sounds of a St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball game are combined with the echoes of Scott Joplin's ragtime and the distinctive calls of Bushy Wushy the Beer Man. This 39-year veteran beer vendor at Busch Stadium, he shares his love for the game, the crowd, and the communal spirit of St. Louis.”
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Hearing Voices from NPR is an hour of The Best of Public Radio: a sixty-minute stream of “driveway moments” connected by a weekly theme, with the help of a guest host. Each episode mixes broadcasts, podcasts, sound-portraits, slam poets, docs, radio dramas, features, and found-sound. The show is aired by over 100 stations.

“The Bushy Wushy Rag” appears on Bimstein’s Larkin Gifford’s Harmonica CD, released by Starkland.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

In the CD’s Introduction, John Adams writes:
"Like their composer, the pieces on this album communicate a generous and good-natured spirit that is tempered with wry wit and a special sense of the western landscape and culture that he so loves."
The delightful, funny, and genuine Robert Logan became known as "Bushy Wushy the Beer Man" over the years. Bimstein began "The Bushy Wushy Rag" by visiting Busch Stadium, recording the crack of the bat from behind home plate, the ball slamming into the catcher's mitt, and other baseball game sounds. He then combined these sampled sounds with stories told by the charming Bushy Wushy, all tied together with a score for wind quintet. Listeners will also hear echoes of music associated with baseball and St. Louis, such as The Maple Leaf Rag written about 100 years before by Scott Joplin in St. Louis.

NPR seems to love Bimstein’s music. Appearing on Weekend Edition, he discussed the CD’s title track “Larkin Gifford’s Harmonica.”

The New York Times warmly praised this second Starkland CD from Phillip Bimstein, stating, "The irresistible charm of Mr. Bimstein's music has less to do with technology than with his uncanny knack for finding the music of everyday life." Stereophile calls Bimstein "an American original” who “has evolved into a singular musical entity.” The audiophile magazine adds that this CD is “stunning and heartwarming,” offering “quirky, moving, and delightful musical journeys.”

“The Bushy Wushy Rag” is performed by the Equinox Chamber Players, who premiered the work in their hometown of St. Louis.

Read more about Phillip Bimstein’s Larkin Gifford’s Harmonica CD.

The CD is available at Amazon.

This is not the first time Starkland has homered with a Bimstein CD. His first Starkland release, Garland Hirschi's Cows, was widely praised and triggered hundreds of calls to radio stations around the country. Stereophile wrote that the “brilliantly original” Bimstein is “outstanding in his field” and uses “digital sampling technology to tell wry and moving stories, and to elevate the mundane to the level of high art."


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Phil Kline’s Around the World in a Daze DVD: “Extraordinarily absorbing”

Phil Kline’s Around the World in a Daze “could well be one of the major ‘classical’ works of this decade,” according to a new review that has appeared at Gapplegate Music Review.

“The stunning Around the World in A Daze, an ambitious and successful electro-acoustic suite,” they write, is “a monumentally conceived work that manages to be pioneering as well as fully pleasurable.”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The review concludes that Daze offers “an extraordinarily absorbing and even startling world of truly ‘new sounds’.“

Daze is currently on sale at Amazon.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Amy X Neuburg: "The Secret Language of Subways": New CD

Amy X Neuburg has announced the release of her latest CD, The Secret Language of Subways, a cycle of thirteen avant-pop songs performed by Amy with backing from The Cello ChiXtet, a trio of women cellists. Amy and the ChiXtet will perform The Secret Language of Subways in Los Angeles as part of the LA Philharmonic’s West Coast: Left Coast festival, curated by John Adams (Nov. 30).

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Reviewing a live performance of Subways, Joshua Kosman wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle :
“Neuburg's new song cycle teeters beguilingly on the boundary between pop and avant-garde performance art, and to hear it complete and in sequence is to marvel at the grace and elegance with which Neuburg walks that tightrope… As serious as the cycle's overall import is, there’s a vein of wit that does wonders for the music. And when that humor bursts into full flower, as in the superbly drawn mental befuddlement of Dada Exhibit or the exuberant black comedy of Hey, the impact is irresistible.”
Amy describes The Secret Language of Subways as “a song cycle about the inane and perpetually unfinished businesses of love and war — and New York.” A stylistically versatile, classically trained singer/composer with a four-octave range, Amy is best known for performances with voice, electronic drums, and live looping in which she creates a chorus of layered voices and rhythms. Two years in the making, Subways consists of intricately composed, multiple layers of cellos topped by Amy’s distinctive and striking vocals; the songs range from intimate art-song ballads to electronics-based pop to Dadaist meanderings to lush symphonic arrangements. Sometimes the cellos are processed with electronic effects, other times heard in the expressive richness of their natural timbres. Neuburg explains:
“The idea for The Secret Life of Subways began in 2003 when I fell in love with the expressive voice-like quality, enormous pitch range, and dramatic look of the cello — I felt I had found a sort of instrumental kindred spirit to my own voice. I conceived most of these songs while sitting on the subway during a 3-year period when I lived part-time in New York — inspired by the rhythmic lull of the train, the fragmented meanderings of my thoughts, the dramas of recent world and personal events, and the deluge of sensory input that is New York itself. New York at that time presented such a vivid example of how life, love and art continue to move forward with full force, in spite of (or perhaps encouraged by) the fears and uncertainties of war.”
The thirteen songs form a compelling dramatic arc, drawing the listener into a vivid, subterranean emotional journey. Starting from the hushed a cappella opening of One Lie, Subways makes local stops at urban paranoia (The Closing Doors, Body Parts), nocturnal reveries (the haunting-yet-catchy Someone Else’s Sleep), the surreal juxtapositions of street life (The Gooseneck, Difficult), self-preservation through self-presentation (the lilting, folkish Hey), and Amy’s stunning closer, the resigned, chorale-like Shrapnel.

As an encore, Neuburg offers her ingenious arrangement of Back in NYC from Genesis’s groundbreaking 1974 concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

The CD is released by Paul Dresher's MinMax Music label, which specializes in adventurous new vocal and music-theater works. Other MinMax CDs include Paul Dresher's Slow Fire, Steve Mackey's Ravenshead, and D'Arc: woman on fire from Jay Cloidt and Amanda Moody. All MinMax recordings are distributed by Starkland.

Amy X Neuburg has developed a unique career bridging the boundaries between classical, experimental and popular music. Her ‘avant-cabaret’ songs combine her interests in language, expressive use of music technology, and exploration of multiple genres using the many colors of her wide vocal range. She has performed at the Bang on a Can Marathon, Other Minds, and other festivals, universities, rock clubs, and concert halls throughout the U.S. and abroad. Commissions include works for Present Music, Santa Cruz New Music Works, Solstice, and others. As vocalist, Amy has been featured in contemporary operas and recordings including works by Robert Ashley, Culture Clash and Guillermo Galindo.

The Cello ChiXtet consists of Jessica Ivry, Elaine Kreston, and Elizabeth Vandervennet.

This CD is available at Amazon.

CD Baby also has Subways in stock.

And it can be downloaded at iTunes.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Phil Kline’s "Around the World in a Daze" reviewed in Philadelphia Inquirer

In the Philadelphia Inquirer, David Patrick Stearns writes about Phil Kline’s Around the World in a Daze DVD:
“Musically, Kline's 10-part Daze is like those Olivier Messiaen orchestral works that are suites of free-standing tone poems, all from different sound worlds, that impulsively eschew the traditional notions of symmetry, proportion and structure.”
The article focuses on the use of visual content on DVDs that present new music. Regarding Daze, Stearns comments:
“Visual illustrations - still photographs from family pets to a grassy stream - often seem so unconnected that Kline is working with a John Cage-style faith in the accidental poetry of randomness.”
Stearns also discusses a Frank Scheffer film that accompanies Brian Eno's 1978 ambient Music for Airports, as arranged by Bang on a Canners Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, and Evan Ziporyn. Unmentioned is that this release also contains a second film, In the Ocean, a documentary by Scheffer about the history of the wonderful Bang on a Can festival. There are spoken contributions from and excerpts of music by John Cage, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Elliott Carter, Louis Andriessen, as well as the can-bangers themselves.

Finally, the Stearns article mentions The BQE, with both video and music from Sufjan Stevens. Commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music, this cinematic suite was inspired by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Hula-Hoop. The visual here (which include “three attractive, scantily clad women” hula-hooping) seems to be the dominant element, with music that is “far less radical than Kline's; it's like a traditional film score… Offenbach to Kline's Beethoven.”