forthcoming releases

Matt Sargent
Separation Songs


Release date: Fall 2019

Separation Songs is a haunting hour-long continuous work for two string quartets. In it, composer-performer-music technologist Matt Sargent systemically juxtaposes and weaves together an array of 18th-century composer William Billings’s hymn tunes, subtly altering certain aspects of them via real-time-generated variations as the piece unfolds. “Ever wonder what two centuries colliding sounds like…? Listen to Separations Songs.” (Robert Carl)

The composer writes, “Throughout the piece, hymn tunes come and go, passing from one quartet to the other. As tunes reappear, they filter through a ‘separation process,’ whereby selected notes migrate from one quartet to the other. This process leaves breaks in the music that either remain silent or are filled in by stretching the durations of nearby notes, generating new rhythms and harmonies.” 

Matt Sargent’s music has been described by critics as “a powerfully organic experience” (Sequenza21) that is “so simple, so natural, and yet sets up a complex set of interactions” (SoundExpanse) as it “uses bare resources to establish a bounded and essential space” (The Wire).

Both quartet parts are performed on this recording by the Eclipse Quartet, a celebrated long-time stalwart of Los Angeles’s new music scene. “The Eclipse [Quartet] is LA’s answer to 20th-century and present-day music.” (HuffPost)

Robert Carl


Specially priced CD single

Release date: Fall 2019

Splectra is an elegant harp solo embellished by subtle digital processing. Each of the work’s two sections gradually expands a simple rising motive, becoming harmonically richer by adding pitches related to its opening note’s (low C) harmonic series. Splectra is performed by Los Angeles harpist and new-music champion Alison Bjorkedal. The design and realization of the processing was a collaboration between Robert Carl and Matt Sargent.

Robert Carl is a prolific composer, a performer, and an author of books and articles on new music. His eclectic though often serene compositions usually explore a harmonic language based in the overtone series. “[Carl’s] writing is free of the predictable trappings and dogma, conveying an intelligence that doesn’t need to bury itself in theory in order to express something serious and compelling.” (Time Out New York) “Robert Carl would seem to have a hard time writing dull music.” (Boston Globe) “[Carl] has settled into a more serene, meditative idiom, but still with a dissonant edge.” (Kyle Gann) “[Carl’s] work possesses a great deal of immediate, surface appeal, and yet every piece has deeper layers that repay further listening and consideration.” (Fanfare)

Michael Byron
Bridges of Pearl and Dust


Specially priced CD single

Release date: Fall 2019

 Bridges of Pearl and Dust is virtuosic music for four vibraphones. Polyrhythmic and contrapuntal throughout, it rings out with both inevitably and surprise as it moves through its series of lush, beautiful harmonic fields. It’s a composition wherein continuous activity comfortably shares space with a sense of motionlessness. Via overdubs, all of Bridges‘s four parts are performed for this recording by Los Angeles-based percussionist, composer, and new-music advocate Ben Phelps.

Byron writes, “Bridges of Pearl and Dust is a music about one thing: It points toward a musical experience in the present tense; the burden of anticipation is lifted, and drama, along with its potential for surprise, is abandoned.”

Michael Byron’s music, which tends to be harmonically rich, rhythmically detailed, and virtuosic, is often praised for its ability to create uniquely dense constructions out of relatively limited means: “Byron creates maximalist effect out of minimalist means.” (ClassicalNet) “One is reminded…of the mobiles of Alexander Calder, which are both fixed and moving. And, like Calder’s work, Byron’s music is immediately comprehensible and beautiful, while it remains experimental.” (San Francisco Bay Guardian) “Byron’s music, like Ligeti’s, is instantly recognizable, perceptually challenging, beautifully proportioned and deeply satisfying.” (Paris Transatlantic) “Byron’s music dances with tremulous iridescence.” (Julian Cowley, The Wire)

John Luther Adams

Release date: Winter 2019

The composer writes: “Over the years my large ensemble works have sometimes included string quartet. However, I didn’t write my first piece for string quartet alone until I was fifty-nine. Now, in my second string quartet (untouched), the fingers of the players still have yet to touch the fingerboard. This music contains no normal stopped tones. All the sounds are produced either as natural harmonics or on open strings.”

untouched, like Adams’s The Wind in High Places (recorded on Cold Blue: The Wind in High Places, CB0041) is an exploration of the Aeolian sound world.

Performed by the incredible, illustrious JACK Quartet.

Adams is a long-time associate of Cold Blue; his music has appeared on six of the label’s previous CDs.

“Adams’s major works have the appearance of being beyond style; they transcend the squabbles of contemporary classical music.” —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

“One of the most original musical thinkers of the new century.” — Alex Ross, The New Yorker

Peter Garland
The Basketweave Elegies

Release date: Winter 2019

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.

“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, Fanfaremagazine

“‘Radical consonance’ has been used to describe Garland’s music…an apt choice of words.” —Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare

“[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

“Ever his own man, Garland has moved beyond a strictly minimalist phase of evolving melodic and rhythmic patterns into a hybrid sphere of many influences from the panorama of world music, suggestive of such composers as Conlon Nancarrow and Lou Harrison.”—San Francisco Chronicle

Jim Fox
Blue photographs

Release date: 2019

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