John Luther Adams
Release date: May 28, 2021
Arctic Dreams is a stunning, gloriously beautiful piece for four string players and four singers, with multiple layers of digital delays that create 32-part canonic textures.
The composer writes:
“This was the first music I composed in my ‘aeolian’ sound world, which grew out of my experiences listening to wind harps on the tundra. As in several of my later string quartets, all the sounds are produced by natural harmonics and open strings. . . . Extensive retuning of the strings is employed.
“The sung text is a series of ‘Arctic Litanies,’ composed of the names of Arctic places, plants, birds, weather, and the seasons, in the languages of the Iñupiat (Alaska Inuit) and Gwich’in (Athabascan) peoples of Alaska.
“Arctic Dreams is dedicated to the memory of my dear friend Barry Lopez, and is titled after one of his greatest books.” [See Adams’s remembrance of Lopez from Harper’s magazine.]
Performed by the incredible Synergy Vocals, a critically acclaimed vocal ensemble that has during the past 25 years recorded music by Steve Reich, Louis Andriessen, David Lang, Luciano Berio, James MacMillian, Steven Mackey, John Adams, Arvo Pärt, and many other composers and performed with the Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, and San Francisco Symphonies, the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics, as well as other major orchestras and many chamber ensembles. Their performances and recordings have been deemed “amazing” (New York Times); “beautiful, haunting” and “wonderfully transparent” (Gramophone); “superb” (The Guardian); “dazzling” (The Observer); “exquisite” (Financial Times); and “blazing and stunning” (The Herald, Scotland). With Synergy Vocals is a quartet of notable string players, all specialists in new music: violinist Robin Lorentz, violist Ron Lawrence, cellist Michael Finckel, and bassist Robert Black.
John Luther Adams is a Pulitzer- and Grammy-winning composer who lived for many years in Alaska, where his work derived much of its unique character from the landscape and weather of the Great North. About a half-dozen years ago, he moved from Alaska, living in various desert and mountain areas in South and Central America—places that also inspired and found expression in his music. He currently resides in rural New Mexico. He is a long-time associate of the Cold Blue label; his music has appeared on seven previous Cold Blue CDs.
“One of the most original musical thinkers of the new century.” — Alex Ross, The New Yorker
“Adams’s music sounds like it has nothing to accomplish. It simply exists, hanging in mid-air, waiting to be listened to.” —All-Music Guide
“Adams’s music is as hypnotic as it is different.” —MusicWeb Int’l
“Adams’s powerful music finds inspiration, depth of field, and sonic substance in the shapes and textures of the natural world and, most of all, in the composer’s own deep and passionate commitment to the act of listening itself.” —Dusted magazine
“Adams’ manner is that of Thoreau—to be in a place, incorporate it into his memory and values, and recreate that through music. It misses the point to say he is inspired by nature—Adams is changed by nature and his music is a catalogue of the places that changed him. . . . Adams [is] an important and necessary musician for our time.” —New York Classical Review
“Adams’s major works have the appearance of being beyond style; they transcend the squabbles of contemporary classical music.” —Alex Ross, The New Yorker
Bush Radio Calling
Release date: May 28, 2021
Two exuberant, beautiful solo piano pieces—the three-movement Three Dawns (1981–82), based on poems by Jean-Joseph Rabéarivelo, and the 10-movement Bush Radio Calling (1992), written for the music-theater work Just Them Walking, by New Zealand’s avant-garde theater company Red Mole.
Both works are elegantly and spiritedly performed by Ron Squibbs, a pianist who has also recorded music by Dane Rudhyar and Joji Yuasa.
Peter Garland is a composer, world traveler, musicologist, writer, and former publisher whose music is always informed by his well-traveled ear and strong sense of personal vision. He is a long-time associate of Cold Blue—his music has appeared on seven of the label’s previous CDs.
“Garland’s music seems to be about the sheer expressive power of sound itself…. I feel he is one of our true originals.” —Robert Carl, Fanfare magazine
“Radical consonance’ has been used to describe Garland’s music…an apt choice of words.” —Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare magazine
“[Garland] is an avatar of an experimental American tradition … a composer of mesmerizing music; and in many ways, the musical conscience of my generation.” —Kyle Gann, Chamber Music magazine
Jacob Cooper & Steven Bradshaw
Release date: Summer/Fall 2021
Sunrise is an expansive, incandescent, haunting electro-acoustic work jointly composed and performed by Jacob Cooper and Steven Bradshaw. Created during the 2020–21 pandemic, this alluring, kaleidoscopic piece grows into a tsunami of sound while it casts an eye (ear) back 100 years to derive its text from a popular song composed during the 1918 pandemic: “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise.”
Cooper and Bradshaw constructed Sunrise via the internet—Bradshaw recording vocal melodies and improvisations that Cooper subjected to electronic manipulation. In this fashion—back and forth, again and again—they spent months composing and realizing the music. (In addition to Cooper and Bradshaw, pianist Dynasty Battles, violinist Clara Kim, and flutist Timothy Munro also contribute performances to the work.)
Jacob Cooper has been lauded as “richly talented” (The New York Times) and a “maverick electronic song composer” (The New Yorker). His music has been commissioned and performed by such ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Eighth Blackbird, and the Calder Quartet and released by Nonesuch, New Amsterdam, and other record labels. The recording of his string orchestra work Stabat Mater Dolorosa (New Artisans), which the New York Times described as “exhaustingly poignant,” was an NPR Top Ten album in 2020.
A founding member of Variant Six and The Crossing (a Grammy-winning vocal ensemble dedicated to new music), Steven Bradshaw has appeared as a soloist with Bang on a Can, the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, and many other groups and recorded and toured with Roomful of Teeth. He premiered Ted Hearne’s Placeat the BAM Next Wave Festival and will reprise his role in it with the LA Philharmonic. He also premiered and gave 300 performances of David Lang’s lifespan. Also a noted visual artist, Bradshaw has exhibited his work at a number of galleries throughout the country.
Release date: Summer/Fall 2021
Three new dark and haunting soundscapes from composer-performer-instrument builder Chas Smith, a musician who has created his own unique musical world—complete with its own instruments and “language”—a world of expansive musical tapestries and carefully sculpted textures that evolve via a slow, constant change of aural perspective. This is music that seamlessly blends Smith’s metal sound sculptures and his homemade and hot-rodded steel guitars, all of which are performed by the composer.
“Smith’s pieces are music of experiment and discovery: a way of enabling the physical world to ‘speak’ by investigating, harnessing and organizing its sonic properties. The extraordinary sound-world of Smith’s articulately structured music captivates from the start.”—International Record Review
“Chas Smith, musician, composer, engineer, metal craftsman and inventor, is a classic American original.”—New Times (Los Angeles)
“With Smith’s music, the sounds are as compelling as his concepts and instruments.” —The Wire magazine
“Smith creates unsettling music that is both beautiful and eerie.”—Electronic Musician magazine
The Basketweave Elegies
Release date: Winter 2021–22
The Basketweave Elegies is an elegant, well-wrought vibraphone solo in nine sections. Commissioned and recorded by percussionist Joseph Van Hassel.
Garland writes, “I want to write music that is well-made, sturdy, useful, and beautiful—like a basket; its beauty being the sum result of those first three qualities. . . . I worked on this piece with the same determined focus as if I were weaving a basket. . . . I think one can hear a definite woven quality in the melodic and contrapuntal relationships. . . . Formally, I got an idea from the medieval poetic-musical form the rondeau. . . . There are four ‘core’ movements . . . which are preceded and followed by ‘refrains.’ Of course this being the 21st century and not the 12th, I do not follow this rondeau form in any literal fashion.”
Composer Peter Garland is a long-time associate of Cold Blue; his music has appeared on seven of the label’s previous CDs.
Release date: TBD
Blue photographs collects a few dozen of the many aphoristic piano pieces Fox has written during the past 30 years. Performed by the composer.
“One of the striking qualities of Jim Fox’s compositions is that you can still hear them inside you long after the music is over.” —Wadada Leo Smith
“This is music that sounds like it was made in that California of cool northern beaches or the Mojave Desert as seen in the stark intimacy of Joshua Tree or even the remembered despair of the landscape around Donner Pass. This is a music of honesty, seductive and delicate yet strong and dark.” —Daniel Lentz