Albums

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.

Sounds Heard: Keeril Makan–Afterglow

Afterglow cover

It is always a pleasure to encounter music that serves as a reminder of some basic creative ideas: that music is a physical thing, connected to the body and to breath; that simplicity is often the most satisfying option; that the present moment and all that it holds is important. All of these notions are present in composer Keeril Makan’s latest release on Mode Records, Afterglow.

Sounds Heard: Chris Wild–Abhanden

Abhanden

Chicago-based cellist Chris Wild’s onstage presence is intense and contemplative, so it comes as no surprise that Abhanden presents six works which, in radically different ways, explore intimate and interior worlds.

Sounds Heard: Ingram Marshall and Jim Bengston—Alcatraz and Eberbach

Ingram Marshall: Alcatraz

In the two audio/visual compositions by Ingram Marshall (composer) and Jim Bengston (photographer) included on a recent surround-sound DVD release from Starkland, the artists offer an especially effective marriage of these two realms. Taken together, they arrive like a series of postcards relaying vivid, complex impressions of places—perhaps sent by residents now long gone.

Sounds Heard: Some American Albums

Some American Albums

In the wake of the many “Best of 2013” lists floating around, I wanted to highlight some recent album releases worthy of your time and attention. I didn’t select them for this reason, but it occurs to me that they each say something interesting and distinct about what it means to make American music right now.

Sounds Heard: Zevious—Passing Through the Wall

Zevious

This trio of guitarist Mike Eber, cousin Jeff Eber on drums, and bassist Johnny DeBlase make spare, taut music that is also chock full of dueling layers of angular counterpoint couched in polymeters. But despite its austerity and complexity, it’s surprisingly easy to listen to—perhaps an appropriate irony for a band whose name rhymes with devious!

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