John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind
Release date: June 17, 2022
Houses of the Wind is a shimmering, mesmerizing, beautiful electro-acoustic piece composed in 2021.
The composer writes:
“Much of my music of the past thirty-some-odd years has grown out of my experiences listening to aeolian harps. Yet, until now, I’ve never incorporated those sounds directly into the music
“In the last two decades of the 20th century, I made field recordings of elemental sounds all over Alaska—fire, ice, thunder, glaciers calving into the sea. Recently, I transferred those aging tapes to more stable media. Listening to the very first segment of a small aeolian harp, recorded in the Arctic in the summer of 1989, I was captivated. The voices of the wind singing through the strings of the harp brought back vividly the clarity of light, the sprawling space, and the sense of possibility I had felt.
“Houses of the Wind (2021–22) is composed entirely from that single ten-and-a-half-minute recording, transposed, layered on itself, and sculpted into five new pieces of the same length. The world has changed since then, in ways we couldn’t have imagined. The winds rising around us now seem darker, more turbulent and threatening. Yet still, if this music is haunted by feelings of loss and longing, I hope it also offers some measure of consolation, even peace.”
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 eight previous Cold Blue CDs, including Arctic Dreams, Everything That Rises, and the Grammy-nominated Lines Made by Walking.
“One of the most original musical thinkers of the new century.” — Alex Ross, The New Yorker
“His music becomes more than a metaphor for natural forces: it is an elemental experience in its own right.” —Tom Service, The Guardian
“His music perfectly echoes the landscape he loves: impersonal, relentless, larger than human scale, yet gorgeous, a quiet chaos of colors, suffused with light.” —Kyle Gann, Chamber Music Magazine
“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
The Basketweave Elegies
Release date: Fall 2022
The Basketweave Elegies is an elegant, well-wrought vibraphone solo in nine sections, recorded by percussionist Michael Jones.
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: Fall 2022
A collection of Byron’s vibrant music for mallet percussion ensembles (marimbas, vibraphones, glockenspiels, and chimes) and music for solo and four-hand piano. Includes the pieces Music of Steady Light, Music of Every Night, Drifting Music, Starfields, and Tender, Infinitely Tender. Performers include percussionists William Winant, Michael Jones, Tony Gennaro, and Scott Silar and pianists Lisa Moore, Vicki Ray and Aron Kallay.
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)
Release date: Fall 2022
Gorgeous understated works for solo piano, performed by Bryan Pezzone. Includes the pieces Zuòwàng, Voluptuous, and Tiny Thunder.
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