new releases

John Luther Adams
Everything That Rises

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Everything That Rises is an elegant, haunting, and devilishly difficult string quartet. The composer writes: “Everything That Rises, my fourth quartet, grew out of Sila: The Breath of the World—a concert-length choral/orchestral work composed on a rising series of sixteen harmonic clouds. This music traverses that same territory, but in a much more melodic way. Each musician is a soloist, playing throughout. Time floats and the lines spin out, always rising, in acoustically perfect intervals that grow progressively smaller as they spiral upward…until the music dissolves into the soft noise of the bows, sighing.”

Performed by the incredible, illustrious JACK Quartet.

John Luther Adams, a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy Award winning composer, is a long-time associate of Cold Blue; his music has appeared on six of the label’s previous CDs.

[More info…]

Everything That Rises is art without artifice, and its beauty transports the listener into a timeless place outside of everyday experience, surely one of music’s most exalted goals.” —New York Classical Review

Everything That Rises finds Mr. Adams exploring dissonance and just-intonation tuning, in the gentlest of ways.” —New York Times

“Nature and spirit inform every magical page of Adams’ music…. Everything That Rises takes us to a very still place within. Mere words cannot describe it, but music can conjure it. Something tells me John Luther Adams’ ‘sounds in the air’ may well be an answer to a famous koan.” —Bay Area Reporter

“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
Moon Viewing Music (Inscrutable Stillness Studies #1)

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Moon Viewing Music is a quiet, sparse, introspective six-movement work for three large Thai-style gongs and large tam-tam, performed by the celebrated new-music percussionist William Winant.

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

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“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

“[Garland] is an avatar of an experimental American tradition … a composer of mesmerizing music; and in many ways, the musical conscience of my generation…. Garland’s work always brings increasing cognitive involvement; it is much more intricate than it sounds at first.” —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

“Garland’s…compositions exist entirely on their own terms.” —Signal to Noise magazine

“Garland’s not a very baaaad-assed composer, but he’s one of the best.”—Kyle Gann, Village Voice

Daniel Lentz
River of 1,000 Streams

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One of the Alex Ross/The New Yorker “Notable Recordings of 2017”  

River of 1,000 Streams is a dense, slowly evolving virtuosic piano piece in which a live/solo part is expanded by the addition of hundreds of “cascading echoes” (reappearing fragments of music) that appear kaleidoscopically in up to 11 simultaneous layers, creating thick clouds of (primarily) tremolos that gradually gain in density and volume as rich, drifting harmonies climb, in a great arc, from the very bottom to the top of the keyboard.

River is performed by one of Los Angeles’s most prominent pianists, Vicki Ray, a Grammy-nominated new-music champion and a founding member of the California EAR Unit and Piano Spheres. She has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and many new music groups in LA and around the world.  [More info…]

“When it comes to attempts at musical seduction, Lentz’s music is way out front.” —Kyle Gann, Village Voice

“Lentz’s music inhabits…a musical ‘state of becoming,’ where both new and reappearing musical and textual fragments are fused through complex layering processes.” —John Schaefer, New Sounds, WNYC

“Lentz’s work ‘chortles’ in ways both sensual and intellectual.” —Los Angeles Reader

“By intriguing his listeners at the same time he wreathes them in smiles, Lentz always comes up with something listenable and worthwhile.” —Gramophone

Larry Polansky
freeHorn

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A Guitar Moderne 2017 “Record Pick”

Larry Polansky’s freeHorn is an album of three shape-shifting chamber works. The textural, ever morphing freeHorn, performed by an octet of mixed instruments, and the pulsing electric guitar duo ii-v-i modulate between three different natural harmonic series, providing intriguing musical outings that are somewhat adrift from the tempered tunings that most of us are accustomed to. The short third track, minmaj, another duo for electric guitars, is Polansky’s unusual “translation” of Carl Ruggles’s 1921 brass piece Angels. The three works are performed by the composer in the company of a group of Bay Area composer-performers. [More info…]

“The Music of…Larry Polansky is a marvelous combination of the mathematical and the expressive. The blend is so seamless, in fact, that it serves to point out the absurdity of regarding those two strains as opposite or even especially different.” —Joshua Kosman, SFGate

“Polansky has created a vast body of compositions that defy stylistic pigeonholing, from two-second canons to massive solo piano showcases as well as works for rock band, interactive computer environments, and solo piccolo in extended just intonation…. Every project he gets involved with ties to his social philosophy, as well. In everything he does, Polansky aims to create a model for a better world, a place where hierarchies cease to be oppressive and barriers are abolished.” —Frank J. Oteri, NewMusicBox

Stephen Whittington
Windmill

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This new CD presents two of Australian composer Stephen Whittington’s stunningly beautiful string quartets: his elegant, eclectic seven-movement …from a thatched hut, which embraces, sometimes obliquely, the composer’s deep interest in Chinese poetry and his frequent travels in China, and his evocative, haunting Windmill, which draws sonic references to the small metal windmills commonly found in rural areas of Australia (“pump[ing] up life-giving water in the often desolate landscape,” the composer notes) and much of the rest of the world. Both works are performed by Australia’s celebrated Zephyr Quartet, the group that recorded Whittington’s earlier Cold Blue release, Music for Airport Furniture (CB0038). [More info…]

“If Australia has produced a classic piece of musical minimalism, [Windmill] is it.” —Graham Strahle, The Australian

“Stephen combines a certain Brit-Aussie whimsy and humor with a sharp critical mind, a deep knowledge of the American and international avant-garde, and an increasing awareness that Australia, being a pacific nation, looks to Asia as its closest neighbor.” —Peter Garland

“Whittington weaves together musical influences from many different musical cultures…. His compositions have significant depth to them.” —Ralph Graves, Finding Beauty in Ephemera

Erik Griswold
Ecstatic  Descent

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One of Ted Gioia’s “100 Best Recordings of 2017” (tedgioia.com) 

Composer Erik Griswold’s unrestrainedly exhilarating music has been described as “Startlingly fresh…intelligent, intuitive and original” (The Courier Mail) “colorful and refreshingly unpretentious” (Paris Transatlantic), and “kaleidoscopic” (Modisti), and said to remind us that “music of a more esoteric nature can be engaging and fun” (RealTime).

Ecstatic Descent is a prepared-piano work that melds composed and improvisational elements to create an intensely animated, one-of-a-kind textural soundworld. The composer writes, “In Ecstatic Descent every note of the piano is altered (“prepared”) with bolts, screws, strips of rubber, cardboard, and paper—transforming the instrument into a miniature percussion orchestra. By carefully positioning these materials along its strings the entire piano is, in effect, tuned to A minor. On this singular instrument I perform cascades of rapid-fire textures that start at the very top of the keyboard and wend their way down, bubbling and glinting as they descend.” [More info…]

Ecstatic Descent is certainly an apt title for this 40-minute excursion into the world of prepared piano…but the evocative imagery of that title is only one variable in a complex and fascinating equation…. When the final notes fade, or rather are absorbed into the silence that was so integral to the piece’s second half, a satisfying sense of connection and resolution is palpable. This is music whose opening minutes are deceptively simple and whose form and structure reward deep and repeated listening.” —Marc Medwin, Fanfare magazine

“The 45-minute work has so rich a cornucopia of sound colors that it never ceases to fascinate. There is not a minute too much. All lays out fittingly, with a fresh ambiance that neither relaxes nor wearies the close listener. Kudos! This is a blast.”—Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

“Erik Griswold’s kaleidoscopic material ripples, sparkles, and flutters like sunlight reflecting off a water’s surface, the ear constantly dazzled by a plethora of pianistic detail.”—Textura

Nicholas Chase
Bhajan

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Bhajan, described by one critic as “a pas de deux between violin and electronics,” is composer Nicholas Chase‘s free-wheeling yet meditative four-part work for electric violin and live electronics. Influenced by musics from around the globe, the work bewitches the ear with a breadth of sounds that ebb and flow as if guided by an elusive but inherent sense of logic. It features violinist Robin Lorentz, with the composer performing the electronics part.

The Los Angeles Times has aptly described Chase’s music as having a “brawling yet taut energy,” and his multi-media and improvisation work has been described by LA Weekly as “pushing the edge of audio/visual improv.” Chase’s chamber works and electronic works have been performed at festivals around the world.  [More info…]

“This new soloist and live processing collaborative release from Cold Blue Music begs the question: Has there been a more effective use of the Eb chord since Wagner’s Ring cycle? It opens the 46-minute Bhajan, and from there, no one looks back. Unlike so much new music, composer Nicholas Chase and former California EAR Unit violinist Robin Lorentz have fashioned a disc whose power and beauty need no garishness for the myriad statements they make.”—Marc Medwin, Fanfare magazine

Bhajan…is like one of those dreams in which you find yourself in a totally unfamiliar and yet comforting place…. The only thing that makes me sad about this release is the fact that it isn’t longer.”—Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare magazine

Ms. Lorentz and Nicholas Chase have set a standard in Bhajan that others would do well to emulate.” —Paul Muller, New Classic LA

“Sci-fi ambience sets the stage for the full impact of Lorentz’s expressive, lyrical, rhapsodic virtuosity…. An extraordinary arc of pure sound has led to a celestial rainbow.” —Gramophone