Björk’s new “Crystalline” Video + Biophilia 12″ vinyl series

A video for Björk’s new song “Crystalline” was released on Tuesday. It’s part of Biophilia, her ambitious new recording/multimedia app project for Nonesuch.

Also announced was a 12″ vinyl series featuring variations on the music from Biophilia.

Brian Eno waxes poetic (CD Review)

Brian Eno
Drums between the Bells
Warp CD

For his second CD on the Warp imprint, Drums between the Bells, Brian Eno collaborates with poet Rick Holland on compositions that combine spoken word with alt-electronica.

Spoken dialogue atop music constantly bombards us on TV and in the movies, but the music is backgrounded and the dialogue is unmetered. The Eno/Holland collaboration puts poetry and music on relatively equal footing. And while the constituent elements may be 21st century experimental electronica and post-modern language, the material actually hearkens back to an older artform, the 18th and 19th century genre of melodrama.

Melodrama has gotten a bad rap in recent years. today, we often use the term melodramatic to describe something that’s overwrought. Even though composers as prominent as Mozart, Schubert, and Beethoven composed them, for the most part, musical melodramas haven’t remained in the repertory. That said, one of our most prominent contemporary musical genres, hip hop, certainly is a marriage of spoken word with music on relatively egalitarian footing. But then, the MC is, in a sense, a musical soloist as well as an orator; his or her voice acts in a punctuating and percussive manner that is a bit more overtly metricized than Mozart’s melodrama, or than the collaboration between Eno and Holland.

That said, the balance and pacing of music and spoken word on Drums between the Bells works well. And the recording exhibits a wide range of demeanors both in terms of narration and musical approach. It certainly helps that a number of voices are heard throughout the album, including Holland, Eno, classical vocalist/visual artist Nick Robertson, Anastasi Afonina, and Elisha Mudley, providing a great deal of inflective variety. Eno takes care of most of the instrumental duties himself, with strings and guitars added by guest collaborators.

The album opener sets an uncompromising tone. “Bless this Space” pits a gravelly and booming bass vocal against Leo Abrahams’ edgily distorted and angularly deployed electric guitar playing. On the cut “Fierce Aisles of Light,” the music veers towards trip-house with rap riding buoyantly atop the beats. It’s not surprising that the cut “Glitch” explores the experimental electronica from which it takes its title, with the poetry emitted in robotic stabs. “Seedpods” pits electrofusion riffs and string synth chordal pads against each other and a more theatrical oration. Elsewhere, as on “Dreambirds,” Eno references his justifiably famous ambient soundscaping, creating lush tapestries which beautifully support Holland’s more reflective poems.

Even if the notion of spoken word takes you back to awkward memories of children’s theater, or lame college open-mike nights masquerading as wannabe poetry slams, you needn’t give up on melodrama entirely. Give this Eno/Holland 2011 reboot of the genre a try. Drums between the Bells is well worth questioning your listening biases.

Brian Eno – glitch (taken from Drums Between The Bells) by Warp Records

Avant Cellist’s Ideas Worth Spreading (Video)

Maya Beiser, everyone’s favorite ex-Can Banging All Star downtown cellist, was an invited presenter at the March 2011 TED conference. The TED site recently released a high quality video of her lecture recital, and it’s already garnered over 80,000 views!

TED’s slogan: “Ideas worth spreading.” We’re glad that Maya’s getting the chance to spread the word about Steve Reich’s Cello Counterpoint and David Lang’s World to Come far and wide!

Sanda Weigl at 92YT tonight

Bucharest born singer Sanda Weigl will be performing at the 92nd Street Y Tribeca tonight. She’s celebrating the release of Gypsy in a Tree, her new album of Romanian folk music inflected with jazz, rock, and out there sounds.

She joined by a diverse group of collaborators: Stomu and Satoshi Takeishi, Shoko Nagai, Doug Wieselman, and Ben Stapp; a rock band, a gypsy band led by Emil Bizga, and appearances by Anthony Coleman, Ned Rothenberg and Ljova Zurbin.

You can check out a stream of Gypsy in a Tree, as well as show details, below.

Friday, April 22 at the 92Y Tribeca,
200 Hudson Street, NYC.
Doors open at 8 p.m. for the 9 p.m. show.
$15 in advance, $18 at the door.

My Brightest Diamond: “The Sea” (Video)

THE SEA from New Amsterdam Records on Vimeo.

Letters to Distant Cities is out this month on New Amsterdam. It’s acollaboration between Shara Worden (best known as My Brightest Diamond), Clare and the Reasons, and Rob Moose (of Antony & the Johnsons, Sufjan Stevens).

A release party is scheduled for Monday March 21 at the PowerHouse Arena in Brooklyn’s DUMBO. It’ll feature music from the album + some extra live tunes from Shara and Clare (details below).

Letters to Distant Cities


Shara Worden and My Brightest Diamond
Clare and the Reasons
Rob Moose (Sufjan Stevens, Antony & the Johnsons)
Poetry by Mustafa Ziyalan
Curated & produced by photo/videographer Murat Eyuboglu


Monday, March 21, 7–9 PM
$10 at the door

The powerHouse Arena · 37 Main Street (corner of Water & Main St) · DUMBO, Brooklyn
For more information, please call 718.666.3049

Hudson leads Genre benders/blenders in debut CD

Galactic Diamonds
Steve Hudson Chamber Ensemble
Groovaholic Music CD

New York based composer and pianist Steve Hudson performs his compositions with several groups. He’s currently working in a quartet setting with violinist Zack Brock, singing cellist Jody Redhage, and percussionist Martin Urbach. The group just released their debut CD and will be touring in Europe in March 2011.

All of the members of the Steve Hudson Chamber Ensemble are skilled genre benders and genre blenders, able to adroitly move between styles such as jazz, tango, and avant classical – and many points in between. “Tune with Tango” (video below) is a signature example of their simpatico sense of ensemble and deftly phrased, gently articulated, yet still zesty sense of rhythm.

A more eclectic offering is the title tune, which moves from fusion tinged modern jazz to a lushly harmonized neoromantic coda. There are tender stretches too, like the ballad “Song for John Lennon.” It’s one of Hudson’s most affecting solo turns; he combines impressionist post-bop chord voicings with wistful waltzing.

Galactic Diamonds is indeed a versatile outing; and by no means does it only showcase its leader. Brock lends a bluegrass fiddle’s inflections and gentle swing to “Keep it Simple.” Redhage crafts a cantabile, double-stop laden solo on “Moving On” and doubles her cello line with supple vocalise on “PG.” Urbach never swamps the acoustic instruments, but still makes his presence felt in fulsome grooves, as on the effusively syncopated “Speak Out.”

Meanwhile, Hudson doesn’t restrict himself to just playing piano. He plays cafe jazz solos on melodica on the lilting “Para.” On “Funky Hobbit,” he tears it up on a Fender Rhodes electric piano, moving the ensemble closer to ‘out improv.’ Both Brock and Redhage are encouraged to shred a bit in response to Hudson’s enthusiastic acid jazz riffing.

Whether pushing the envelope with energetic improvisatory exertions or crafting more gradually developing essays, the Steve Hudson Ensemble is consistently engaging. Galactic Diamonds is a thoroughly enjoyable recording.

Startin’ ‘em young – indie classical style

On my last visit to my brother’s home, my 3-year old niece told me about her new favorite music star – Dr. Stringz.

She and her folks then showed me the good doctor in question: Andrew Bird, making a guest appearance in 2007 on Jack’s Big Music Show.

Bird’s kept the segment’s musical number in his repertoire, and often plays it when he gives concerts. It’s a toe-tapper that appeals to “children of all ages.”

An actor inhabits two different musical styles

Contemporary classical audiences were very pleased with Adam Goldberg’s performance as an avant-classical composer in the 2009 film Untitled (the David Lang penned soundtrack is available on Cantaloupe).

But did you know he’s also active as a pop musician? Relatively contemporaneous to his work on (Untitled), Goldberg, under the moniker LANDy released the engaging quirk-pop album Eros and Omissions.