Fabric for String Noise
Release date: Jan./Feb. 2019
Fabric for String Noise is wildly virtuosic music for two violins. Unlike pretty much anything else written for violins, this new two-movement piece may be said to resemble some sort of universal folk music of madly driven ecstasy, a sonic canvas wherein intense hyperactivity shares space with an overarching sense of motionlessness. Also on the CD is the first recording of an earlier Byron work, Dragon Rite—a slow, beautifully rumbling work for four double basses, occasionally employing quarter-tones.
Fabric is performed by the new-music violin duo String Noise—violinists Conrad Harris and Pauline Kim. Dragon Rite is performed by bassist Jim Bergman.
Michael Byron’s music tends to be harmonically rich, rhythmically detailed, and virtuosic. It 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)
Michael Jon Fink
Release date: Jan./Feb. 2019
Celesta is a collection of Fink’s alluring, elegant new celesta solos (all previously unrecorded pieces), performed by the composer. This set of pieces, taken as a whole, as a suite, is perhaps the largest statement for the celesta as a solo instrument. (Beautifully recorded on one of LA’s finest five-octave Schiedmayer celestas.)
Fink’s characteristically reductive but expressive music has been described by the Los Angeles Times as “lustrous,” “metaphysically tinged,” and “unapologetically tranquil.” LA Weekly has written that his music is “of ethereal simplicity . . . he has shaped and refined his spare style greatly—it is distinctly his own.”
“There’s something of Gavin Bryars’ evanescent emotional skill to Fink’s music, something of the soft spatial blur of the Evanses (Bill and Gil) … what gets me every time is its sheer and honest beauty.”—Misfit City (UK)
Release date: Summer 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.
Sargent’s music has been described by critics as “a powerfully organic experience” (Sequenza21) and “so simple, so natural, and yet sets up a complex set of interactions” (SoundExpanse).
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
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