Friday, June 3, 2016

Nate Wooley - Seven Storey Mountain V (2016)

Seven Storey Mountain V is the fifth of seven evening length works that began with a Festival of New Trumpet commission in 2007. Recorded live at Abrons Art Center in New York City as part of the 2015 Tectonics NY festival, SSMV continues Wooley’s idea of creating an ecstatic and communal music

That is non-religious and non-genre based. The massive collective group includes international stars from the jazz, new music, electronic, and noise worlds–working together to realize Wooley’s singular musical vision. The group, which is the largest to date, features Wooley on amplified trumpet alongside C. Spencer Yeh and Samara Lubelski on amplified violins, Ben Vida on electronics, Ben Hall and Ryan Sawyer on percussion, Chris Dingman and Matt Moran on vibraphone, Colin Stetson, Josh Sinton, and Dan Peck on amplified reeds and brass, and the TILT Brass octet (Chris McIntyre, Gareth Flowers, Mike Gurfeld, Tim Leopold, Will Lang, Matt Melore, Jen Baker, and James Roger).

1. Seven Storey Mountain (49:23)


Nate Wooley: amplified trumpet, tape

Ben Vida: electronics

C. Spencer Yeh & Samara Lubelski: amplified violin

Colin Stetson: amplified bass saxophone

Josh Sinton: amplified contrabass clarinet

Dan Peck: amplified tuba

Ben Hall & Ryan Sawyer: drums

Chris Dingman & Matt Moran: vibraphone

TILT Brass Octet: Chris McIntyre (trombone, conductor), Gareth Flowers, Mike Gurfeld & Tim Leopold (trumpets), Will Lang, Matt Melore, Jen Baker & James Roger (trombones)

Recorded May 9, 2015 at Abrons Art Center, presented by Tectonics NY/Issue Project Room, NYC



Bent Knee Tour North America + Europe to Celebrate 'Say So'

Boston-Based Art-Rockers
- Bent Knee -
Embark on Spring/Summer 2016 Tour of
North America and Europe Celebrating
their Cuneiform debut,
Say So,
a World-Class Album
Brimming with Catchy, Captivating Songs
That Channel the Best from Rock’s Spectrum,
from Pop to the Avant Garde

Bent Knee
Say So

Cat. #: Rune 417, Format: CD [8-Panel Digipak] / Digital Download
Genre: Rock / Indie Rock / Art-Rock / Pop / Avant-Progressive

"A welcoming call to music fans who savor the very special. An accusation that there are too many ideas in a work of art is dispelled when they are mostly good ones, as is the case with Bent Knee and 'Say So.'”
- The Wall Street Journal

"Expansive, genre-exploding avant rock." - Bandcamp ["New and Notable"]

"...a celebration of creative freedom and unrestricted musicianship... easily one of the best albums of the year."
- Rebel Noise

"Mind boggling... the grandest and subtlest ideas are on the table." - NPR's The ARTery

"...a record that confirms its eloquence and ebullience, while also breaking new stylistic and temperamental ground."
- The Boston Globe

"Like the best birthday party you’ve had in years." - Goldmine Magazine


June 4
827 Whalley Ave
New Haven, CT 06515

June 5
43 Broad St
Pawtucket, RI 02860

June 8
102 N Market St
Mount Joy, PA 17552

June 9
327 Bowery
NYC, NY 10003

June 10
Private Concert
Worcester, OH

June 11
629 Walbridge St
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

June 12
936 Brown St
Dayton, OH 45409

June 13
3810 Broadway
Kansas City, MO 64111

June 16
647 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

June 17
44 Race St
San Jose, CA 95126

June 18
50 E 11th Ave
Eugene, OR 97401

June 19
1420 SE Powell Blvd
Portland, Oregon 97202

June 20
433 Eastlake Ave E
Seattle, WA 98109

June 21
1017 East 1st St
Port Angeles, WA

June 22
499 Wallace St
Nanaimo, BC V9R 5B7, Canada

June 25
Iredale Farm
327 Campbell Bay Road
Mayne Island, B.C.

July 28
Hof Huhnstadt
Breitenbach Am Herzberg

August 4
Jablonec Nad Nisou
Czech Republic

Bent Knee - Say So (2016) CUNEIFORM RECORDS


"Bent Knee's musicianship is superb, with vocals to die for, an interesting new turn at every corner, and never a dull moment. Highly recommended."
- Bill Bruford

"Say So resoundingly demonstrates the increasing refinement and confidence of a group that doesn't quite fit any conventional pigeonhole, with emphatic crunch, a knack for complexity, mixed with lively wit."
- The Boston Globe

"...the new fantastic Bent Knee record... Brilliant! This band will soon be everywhere!"
- Nik Bärtsch

“Intricately woven, surrealist stylings... a potent sense of urgency tingles the air.”
- Consequence of Sound

Bent Knee is a band without frontiers. The Boston-based group seamlessly connects the worlds of rock, pop and the avant-garde into its own self-defining statement. On its Cuneiform debut release Say So, the band focuses on the sound of surprise. It’s rock for the thinking person. The group’s lyrics are dark and infused with themes focusing on the emergence of personal demons, unwanted situations and the difficulty of conquering them. Its mercurial sound matches its subject matter. It’s a thrilling aural roller-coaster ride with arrangements designed to make listeners throw their arms up in wild abandon as they engage with them.

“Say So resoundingly demonstrates the increasing refinement and confidence of a group that doesn’t quite fit any conventional pigeonhole, with emphatic crunch, a knack for complexity, mixed with lively wit,” said Steve Smith of The Boston Globe. “Live, the band projects visceral glee, exactingly harmonized and wholly infectious.”

Founded in 2009, Bent Knee is a true collective. The band operates as a democratic entity with sky-high standards and a determination to push boundaries. Frontwoman and keyboardist Courtney Swain’s acrobatic, multi-octave vocals are nothing less than extraordinary. Guitarist Ben Levin morphs between the hauntingly melodic and extreme, dissonant sonics—sometimes within a single verse or passage. Bassist Jessica Kion and drummer Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth deliver deep and thunderous grooves, full of engaging, intriguing ornamentation. Violinist Chris Baum’s driving melodic overlays and atmospheres further take the band’s sound into wild territory. And all of it is brilliantly processed and produced by sound designer Vince Welch.

Bent Knee has remained on a skyward trajectory since forming. Its last two albums, 2014’s Shiny Eyed Babies and its self-titled 2011 release, have been celebrated as significant art-rock achievements by important music publications, including Consequence of Sound, The Needle Drop, Innerviews, and Eclipsed. The group has performed more than 300 shows across the U.S., Canada and Japan to date and will embark on its first European tour this year. They’ve also headlined at major festivals and venues including The Lincoln Center, ROSfest, Tulsa Center of the Universe, and Campbell Bay Music Fest.

“What Bent Knee does is fuse the most extreme ends of pop and avant-garde music together,” says Welch. “We feel those things aren’t nearly as mutually exclusive as most people think.”

“When I listen back to Say So, I think it’s the most accessible thing Bent Knee has ever done,” continues Wallace-Ailsworth. “But other times, I think it’s the strangest thing Bent Knee has ever done. For instance, ‘Leak Water’ is a relatively linear rock tune by our standards, whereas ‘Eve’ is a sprawling, epic with radical twists and turns. I think the album reflects the full spectrum of our diverse musical personalities.”

Those extremes are also mirrored in the album’s lyrical themes.

“On Say So, we’re looking at the bigger picture and figuring out where we as individuals stand and how we carve out meaning in this giant universe,” explains Baum. “The album art captures that idea too. It’s why it features a figure lost in the woods, surrounded by darkness but looking out into the light.”

Even with those signifiers and aims, the band prefers its lyrics to be wide open to interpretation. It feels both listeners and the group itself benefit from that perspective.

“I’ve had listeners come up to me and say ‘Good Girl’ from Say So is a strong statement against women being patronized or oppressed and that hit me really hard,” says Swain. “It’s possible to consider those lyrics in that context, and that perspective helped me connect even more closely with the song. How people perceive our songs helps enrich and refresh the pieces for us as we perform them over time.”

One of the elements that significantly distinguishes Bent Knee is its adventurous arrangements. Each track is a true journey. In fact, pieces like “Eve” and “Counselor” are so diverse they reflect an almost “songs-within-a-song” approach.

“We try not to repeat ourselves within our structures,” says Kion. “If we find we’re creating a pattern such as ramping into a loud section and landing in a soft section right after it twice in a row, we’ll break it as soon as we notice it. We don't want to bore ourselves. We also want to surprise and intrigue listeners. We’re always trying to do new things with arrangements.”

“Another thing that stands out for us on Say So is that there are more dynamics within the sections of each piece,” adds Levin. “On previous albums, there were huge dynamic differences between sections. You’d hear songs that alternate between quiet passages, explosions, grooves, and long builds. On Say So, within a section, you’ll hear a lot more variety of loud and quiet, fullness and emptiness, ambience and dryness, and timbre changes. If you drew the dynamic arc of some of these pieces, it would look kind of like a Rorschach inkblot.”

Adding to Say So’s intrigue is the group’s decision to record some of the album in an unconventional space.

“A friend of ours pointed us to an empty, unlocked, million-square foot industrial complex in Boston,” says Baum. “We went in there to record so we could explore its unique sonic atmosphere. It felt like zombies were going to jump out anytime. It was a foreboding locale and gave the session a distinctly dark vibe. We captured some wild, reverb-drenched background vocals there.”

Prior to hitting the studio, the band road-tested Say So’s material at more than 50 gigs.

“It was extremely valuable to see how the pieces went over with audiences,” says Swain. “Playing live also gives all six of us a comprehensive understanding of where we sit in the registers of the songs, enabling us to adjust where the instruments fit in the mix. It’s also important for us to see how the lyrical motifs go over. The songs would be presented 70-80 percent finished to the audiences, leaving us with room to evolve the approach before finalizing them.”

Say So is a world-class album on every level. The band collectively obsessed over every detail in its determination to set a new standard for itself and the universe of ambitious songcraft.

“We now live in a time in which pretty much anyone in the Western world has access to the vast majority of recordings online,” says Welch. “So, the competition for musicians isn’t just the band down the street anymore. The competition is bands as big as Radiohead. To have a shot at success you have to aim to be that good. But even that’s not enough. You have to be patient and work at building up your audience like we’ve done for the last seven years. One of our mentors, the producer Susan Rogers, said to us ‘Slow growth is real growth.’ It’s advice we’ve taken to heart across this journey.”

That journey has now brought them into Cuneiform’s orbit—a transition the band is thrilled with on every level.

“It means a lot for us to be on Cuneiform because of the incredibly high standards of the other artists on the roster,” says Levin. “It’s a world where music is treated as art. Working with Cuneiform means we can make the music we love and connect with a lot of like-minded listeners. It’s fantastic to be in such great company, both in terms of the musicians they work with, as well as the uncompromising vision the label adheres to.”

Say So Track Listing:

1. Black Tar Water (3:29)
2. Leak Water (4:41)
3. Counselor (5:51)
4. Eve (9:12)
5. Transition (0:49)
6. The Things You Love (6:12)
7. Nakami (5:20)
8. Commercial (3:44)
9. Hands Up (5:40)
10. Good Girl (6:39)

Bent Knee
Ben Levin: guitar and vocals
Chris Baum: violin
Courtney Swain: vocals and keyboards
Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth: drums
Jessica Kion: bass and vocals
Vince Welch: synths and sounds

Additional performances by:
Andy Bergman: alto sax and clarinet
Ben Swartz: cello
Bryan Murphy: trumpet
Geni Skendo: flute and shakuhachi
Geoff Nielsen: trombone
Keith Dickerhofe: cello
Nathan Cohen: violin
Sam Morrison: baritone sax
Rebecca Hallowell: viola

Group vocals for “Counselor” and “The Things You Love”
Alessandra Cugno, Andrew Humphries, Anil Prasad, Celine Ferro, Clint Degan, Curtis Hartshorn, Geni Skendo, James Willetts, Jeri Schibelli, Jessie Vitale, Josh Golberg, Kelsey Devlin, Leilani Roser, Leo Fonseca, Mary Freedlund, Max Freedlund, Michael Vitale, Mike Razo, Miriam Olken, Peter Danilchuk, Rebecca Hallowell, Roland Rotsitaille, Ryan Jackson, Sam Swan, Stephen Humphries, Susan Putnins, Tim Doherty, Toni Schibelli, Tori Bedford

Written and performed by Bent Knee.
Produced and mixed by Vince Welch.
Engineered by Matt Beaudoin at Q Division Sound.
Additional engineering by Chris McLaughlin and Vince Welch.
Assistant engineering by Grace Reader, Griffin Bach, Jamie Rowe, Joel Edinberg, Matt Carlson, Michael Healy, and Steven Xia.

Mastered by Randy Roos at Squam Sound.

Recorded at Q Division Studios, The Record Company, and Converse Rubber Tracks, Boston.

Album art by Greg Bowen.

If you'd like to share music from this release, please feel free to use the following track:

STREAM/SHARE: "Leak Water"
stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube



Jason Kao Hwang - VOICE (2016) INNOVA RECORDINGS



VOICE REVIEWS (click links for full reviews)
The performing challenges are immense, not only in the extreme virtuosity of the music, but also in having to move from the jagged to the lyrical in the blink of an eye. Jason Kao Hwang yields nothing to previous performers of repertoire such as this in penetrating the depth and breadth of emotion that the poetry conveys, and it helps that this is a fabulous recording, allowing the wide range of tone, colour and dynamics to be heard to full effect.  Raul da Gama, World Music Report, April 30, 2016

Deanna Relyea sings a bit with an operatic voice, she whispers, then she plays with the spoken-word technique, and accompanying musicians are experimenting with improvisations to the extreme then continuing with lucidity in "Vertigo" with twisted sounds of trumpet, and all sorts of piercing and screeching, introducing a concrete jazz only in the third, "Someone" with the cabaret atmosphere of blues. And every so often walking away and like tracing an abstract painting from pillar to post, not holding onto any strict principles of jazz, but indeed, this is jazz… the idiosyncratic baritone Thomas Buckner, whose wonderfully mad vocalizing is in turn grotesque, manifesto-like, poetic and subtle spoken-word enunciation that comes from the experience of his over four decade career… Very inspired work for demanding listeners with skillful developments shows how each process of blending pure poetry can be configured in a truly imaginative analog implementation.  Horvie,, Evaluation: 9/10 (Croatian translation)

This album is a landmark in vibrant, truly synthetic conjunctions of words and musical expressions, of the state-of-the-art in the avant today, with the world, history and time conjoined in two unified suites of great power and merit. It is a blockbuster and a tribute to the imaginative thrust of Jason Kao Hwang and his collaborative associates.  - Grego Applegate Edwards, gapplegatemusicreview, Jan. 27. 2016

Relyea shows her wide range of expression in particular on “Days of Awe” (by Patricia Jones) with a steady mix of spoken and sung lines in various emotional tones. Michalowski’s sopranino sax is also very apt on this piece. The two poems by Lester Afflick have their textual rhythms accentuated by Filiano’s sturdy bass lines and Drury’s sharp drum licks. “I Raise Myself” has a beautiful intro on bass and “Someone” has some great growl cornet from Bynum and soulful violin from Hwang. But as I have already indicated, my strongest impression from this record date is how well it works as a whole.  Lars Bjorn, SEMJA  

VOICE, Hwang's recent release on Innova (and reviewed here), offers a striking example of his audacious artistic sensibility, and it was this striking fusion of poetry and improvised instrumental accompaniment that prompted me to contact Hwang for the following exchange. - Ron Schepper, Interview, February, 2016

As a project, VOICE constitutes a refreshingly bold move on Hwang's part. It would have been easy for him to have recorded a handful of instrumentals with the musicians involved, and such a project might have been an easier sell, too. But in taking on a voice-based project, he's accomplished something impressive, not to mention something more memorable for being so rarely attempted. - Ron Schepper,, Feb., 2016  

It is a music full of emotions, which transcend those that are the traditional techniques, what matters here is improvisation, the inspiration of the moment, exercised collectively. The two songs are developed otherwise, for the diversity of formations and equipment, but the spirit that animates them is the same. The poems are contained in the booklet, so that you can read them in their strength, as well as listen. There is so much energy and passion to spread the album with solos of all participants, including important names of the vanguard, a Joe McPhee is rewriting with all others.And also celebrated poets of course, the late Lester Afflick , an integral part of this project, whose texts collected in the posthumous I Dream About You Baby are here declaimed. It requires careful listening to these sounds unusual, the energy that emerges from the strings of the leader and his sidemen is something unusual but fascinating. - Vittorio Lo Conte, Music Zoom (Italian translation)

Two sequences of poems by a variety of poets, with music composed by violinist Hwang with some room for improvisation, each set with a different ensemble.  “Lifelines” has mezzo Deanna Reyea, new to me, a fascinating voice and delivery, sort of improvised, sort of sprechstimme.  - Steven Koenig, Acoustic Levitation, Best of 2015

The brilliant violinist, virtuoso violinist and composer Jason Kao Hwang occupies a privileged place at the forefront of jazz and creative music of our time...Voice launch will take place in January 2016 and its edition will be in charge of Innova Recordings label. - Sergio Piccirilli, El Intruso (Spanish translation)

Here's a free stream and free download of Mert Ussakli's recent WKCR Radio(Columbia University) interview of Jason Kao Hwang, Thomas Buckner, Deanna Relyea, Piotr Michalowski, Yuko Otomo, and Steve Dalachinsky about VOICE. This was a lively discussion about the creative process and the relationship between music and poetry. 

VOICE is a release of Innova Records. In 2012 innova was awarded the prestigious Laurel Leaf Award from the American Composers Alliance "for its excellent support of the full range of contemporary American music."

01. nocturnal 07:23
02. vertigo 04:08
03. Someone 06:55
04. Days of Awe 06:51
05. I Raise Myself 08:19
06. Charles Gayle Trio @ Knitting Factory 7/20/92 (Vattel Cherry - bass, Marc Edwards - drums) 01:34
07. What You Know 02:42
08. I Dream About You Baby (for C.H.) 04:16
09. Father 03:03
10. in the wind there is a presence #2 03:47
11. a rose is a rose (for Bruce Webber) 12:19
12. In Like Paradise/Out Like the Blues 03:19
13. Gypsy Prayers 06:59

Poetry: Lester Afflick, Fay Chiang, Steve Dalachinsky, Patricia Spears Jones, Yuko Otomo, and Davida Singer
Musicians: Tom Buckner, Deanna Relyea – voice, Joe McPhee - tenor sax/pocket trumpet, William Parker, Ken Filiano - bass, Piotr Michalowski – sopranino saxophone/ bass clarinet, Taylor Ho Bynum – cornet/ flugelhorn, Andrew Drury – drum set,  Sang Won Park - kayagum, Jason Kao Hwang – violin/viola

To purchase the CD VOICE:  Store
To purchase VOICE download:  Download


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