Albums

Sounds Heard: 17 More Takes on those 88 Keys

Merged image of the album covers of American Vernacular and Keeping Time

Two pianists who recently caught my attention with new releases devoted exclusively to American music composed within the last quarter century are Nicholas Phillips and Mary Kathleen Ernst. All in all, 17 composers are represented on these discs, showing that the instrument that once was a mainstay in households all across the land still has a home in the 21st century.

Sounds Heard: Zwerm—Underwater Princess Waltz

Zwerm—Underwater Princess Waltz

The Belgian/Dutch electric guitar quartet Zwerm presents a fascinating collection of one-page pieces by American composers that rely on everything from more-or-less traditional notation to what one might characterize as “Marvel comic super heroes battle a graphic score.”

Sounds Heard: The Quiet Ones

The Quiet Ones

These three recordings have been sitting patiently and quietly in the pile on my desk without flash or fanfare, waiting to be listened to. Two of the discs are from just down the road in Washington, D.C., while another comes from San Francisco, and the music they contain couldn’t be more diverse.

Sounds Heard: Janice Misurell-Mitchell—Vanishing Points

Janice Misurell-Mitchell Vanishing Points CD cover

The music of Chicago-based Janice Misurell-Mitchell seamlessly weaves elements from high modernism with jazz, Latin, blues, and even funk into an amalgam that is completely its own thing. Vanishing Points, the second retrospective disc of her music, collects six of her chamber music compositions spanning four decades.

Sounds Heard: Things You Already Know

new releases from Chris Campbell, David T. Little, and Aaron Irwin

It’s always exciting to find a “new” favorite piece of music or music maker, but digging deeper into a known artist’s catalog offers its own myriad rewards. This week we apply that to new releases from Chris Campbell, David T. Little, and Aaron Irwin.

Sounds Heard: Big Robot

Big Robot

Viewing last year’s self-titled DVD from Indianapolis “computer-acoustic trio” Big Robot is an exercise in forbearance. The DVD includes six audiovisual pieces, the last of which is divided into three movements; all of this material works by suggesting and then withholding, cannily but almost ceaselessly, the formal and rhetorical identifications, explicit visual and auditory referents, and narrative connections that, by the end of the DVD, we’re made to crave.

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