Sunrise is eerie yet ecstatic and transcendent electro-acoustic music.
Composer-performers Cooper and Bradshaw write about the work:
“In the summer of 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tony Creamer approached us with the idea of creating a collaborative work while in quarantine, isolated in our respective homes. We readily agreed. Knowing that our creation must acknowledge the raw, tumultuous state of the world at the time, we delved into the music of a different pandemic, the 1918–1920 Spanish influenza, and came across Ernest Seitz and Gene Lockhart’s song ‘The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise.’
“As we watched the world unravel around us, the conceit of the Seitz-Lockhart song began to resonate within us. Apparently we were not alone: Since its initial recording by Edward Allen a century ago, the ballad has been performed and recorded by American musicians that included Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Les Paul and Mary Ford, and Willie Nelson. Each performance seems framed by its own distinctive sense of calamity—one imagines the artists grappling with their generations’ darkest moments, while awaiting the relief of an awakening and rebirth.
“But we were not interested in producing a straightforward rendition of ‘The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise.’ Instead, we used it as inspiration for a wholly new piece, one that refracts a classic American song through the prism of COVID-era desperation. Melodic and harmonic material from the song itself appears mostly in phantom traces, or momentary samplings of early 20th-century recordings, while Lockhart’s original lyrics are transformed through reconfiguration, isolation, repetition, and change of inflection.
“Sunrise emerged from a constant exchange of material: Steven would record melodies, improvisations, motifs, vocal scrapes, hisses, whispers, and screams; Jacob would sonically manipulate them and generate new material, forging it all into a compositional framework. With a request for more vocal sounds, the cycle would begin again.
“This yearlong, multilayered dialogue represents our attempt to process the present moment and the century that preceded it, and to consider what might come next.”
Jacob Cooper, lauded as “richly talented” (The New York Times) and “conceptually intrepid” (Pitchfork), has been commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Eighth Blackbird, the Calder Quartet, Ashley Bathgate, and many other noted ensembles and individuals. His music has also been performed by the JACK Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Albany Symphony, Theo Bleckmann, Mellissa Hughes, Kathleen Supové, Vicky Chow, Timo Andres, and numerous others at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Kimmel Center, the Spoleto Festival, the MATA Festival, and elsewhere throughout the world.
San Francisco Classical Voice praised his recent album Terrain (New Amsterdam Records) as a “beautiful way to look at sky when sky is not available.” The String Orchestra of Brooklyn’s recording of his Stabat Mater Dolorosa was an NPR Top 10 album of January 2020. Cooper’s song cycle Silver Threads (Nonesuch Records) was hailed as a Best of 2014 by WQXR. Other works by Cooper appear on Cedille Records, New Focus Recordings, and Innova Recordings. Timberbrit, Cooper’s “gutsy opera” (Time Out NY) about a fictional reunion between Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and in The Believer’s annual music issue. The New York Times called his video Alla stagion dei fior a “rumbling, jittering threnody.”
Cooper has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, ASCAP, Chamber Music America, and New Music USA, and has held residences at the Ucross Foundation, the Banff Centre, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
Steven Bradshaw is a Philadelphia-based dual-career artist, having received notoriety as both a Granny -winning vocalist and as a visual artist focusing on “a subconscious iconography of existential dread.” He has appeared as a soloist with the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Tempesta Di Mare, Bang on a Can, the Bach Collegium of Philadelphia, and the Network for New Music. He premiered Ted Hearne’s Place at the BAM Next Wave Festival, and in 2022 he will reprise his role in Place with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He also premiered and gave over 300 performances of Pulitzer Prize–winning composer David Lang’s work Lifespan, for three whistlers and a four-billion-year-old fossil.
Bradshaw is a founding member of the chamber choir The Crossing, winner of Best Choral Performance Grammys in both 2018 and 2019. In addition to recording and performing with the ensembles Roomful of Teeth, Variant 6, and Ekmeles, he also performs regularly with Seraphic Fire, Trinity Wall Street, Spire, Blue Heron, Yale Choral Artists, and Apollo’s Fire.
In addition to his singing career, Bradshaw is a visual artist whose work has been featured at galleries around the world and who has designed album artwork for two albums by The Crossing, Carthage and Zealot Canticles, as well as for Gavin Bryars’ A Native Hill.
“If you’ve ever read Jean Toomer’s short story ‘Fern,’ a masterpiece of poetic narrative, it will be difficult to forget the various natural and supernatural elements flowing into Fern’s eyes. The eyes receive while becoming the focal point of all around her, similar to the way the voice is used on Jacob Cooper and Steven Bradshaw’s immersive Sunrise. There’s even a climactic section to rival Fern’s, but more on that presently.
“Composed remotely during lockdown, the piece is a reworking of ‘The World is Waiting for the Sunrise,’ a 1918 pandemic song that has managed to maintain relevance in our current situation, but I’ll let others deal with lyrical analysis. I hear this piece as a modified circle, containing a historically informed music lesson in reverse, whose centerpiece is the human voice. The voice doesn’t so much envelop as defragment and then encompass. It emerges from labored breath, sustained and shattered consonants eventually leading to verbiage on the fringes of cognition. The words are framed, but only just, by the beat drops and voice inflections of neo-soul, constituting a sort of pan-historical palimpsest. That music’s roots in Minimalism eventually come into focus and are supplanted by a sort of harmonically anachronous take on polyphony whose vocal timbres exude the Renaissance, while the harmonies have Stravinskian Neoclassicism in their DNA. The 1960s psychedelia that overtakes them ushers in what would be a climax were it not so distended. Like the use of instrumentation up to this point, the distorted wave glacializes forward, an iceberg in a clotted soup of dots and lines, but all semblance of type and category is obliterated, or at least frozen. The intensity rivals any other genre of music I’ve ever heard, and it is as unexpected as it is disconcerting. Only on repeated audition do the various rhythmic layers become apparent. The distortion is actually crystal-clean and alive beneath the surface. As it traverses the stereo spectrum, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it was comprised of vocal samples.
“When the distortion abates, when Dynasty Battles’s piano descends in half-waves, and when the vocals re-enter in their own rendition of distorted community via something akin to Gregorian chant as distended as the climax, it is tempting to observe that very little has changed. Fragments are again supported by that Uhr-drone, but in a sense, if motion exists, it leads backwards. It is fascinating to hear this 32-minute work as an exposé of human contact as expression via microhistorical document, none of which speaks to the composition’s overwhelming force. Sunrise is one of the most viscerally powerful statements in Cold Blue’s impressive catalog. Its fragmentation, coalescence, and disintegration bely an underlying unity both elusive and palpable. Like Fern after her brush with whatever forces convulsed and then abandoned her, listening left me exhausted and transformed.” —Marc Medwin, Fanfare magazine
“Contemporary music usually moves through a lengthy gestation period, with composition, rehearsal, and performance occurring well before a piece is ever recorded, but technology is changing that. This collaboration between Jacob Cooper, of the Sleeping Giant Collective, and singer Steven Bradshaw, of the Philadelphia new music choir The Crossing, was produced during and reflects upon the ongoing (but hopefully soon fading) pandemic. The pair drew inspiration from the old love song ‘The World is Waiting for the Sunrise,’ written during the devastation of the Spanish influenza in 1918-20, but only surfacing as a recording in 1921, when the context of its creation had faded. The original lyrics refer to romantic longing, but mask a yearning for normalcy. Here they are significantly rearranged into a kind of desperate meditation for human connection.
“Bradshaw’s voice goes through endless electronic treatments—stacked in wordless harmony, pitch-shifted into bird-like warbles, sliced-and-diced into an answering chorus—as well as pure, keening lament that hits harder than anything else. The vocals are placed alongside heavily processed, largely unrecognizable instrumental passages—flautist Tim Munro, pianist Dynasty Battles, and violinist Clara Kim are all credited—that help build to a dense, noisy climax at once claustrophobic and explosive, displacing the voice for several harrowing, apocalyptic moments. As the noise drifts away, a pretty piano line cycles and Bradshaw returns—exhausted and forlorn, but still conveying beauty.” —Peter Margasak, The Best Contemporary Classical on Bandcamp
“Most of us haven’t had time for quests in the last couple of years, with lockdown severely restricting activities, human contact and, in many cases, creativity. Jacob Cooper and Steven Bradshaw decided to collaborate whilst in quarantine to produce new work. They chose to use a popular song from the time of the Spanish influenza as source material. Together they deconstructed, reassembled and reimagined the song as a half-hour nightmare seduction of fragmented song, scrapes, hisses and whispers, totally appropriate to the loss of experienced time many of us felt imprisoned in our own homes, and also to the repurposed song lyrics, where ‘ the rising / of heart […] is calling / is slowing / is dreaming’, because ‘the world is waiting for the sunrise’. This is intriguing and complex music with many secret and hidden depths.” —Rupert Loydell, International Times
“Online collaborating—sending music fragments back and forth and thus gradually work on the final result—already was a way of creating music quite common with ‘electronic’ musicians living far apart. The COVID-19 lockdown obviously triggered a lot of these online collaborations—which were often also thematically related to the worldwide crisis. But few—if not none—of them are as surprising as Jacob Cooper & Steven Bradshaw‘s Sunrise.
“To understand its background, it’s good to know that Cooper (sounds) and Bradshaw (voice) found their inspiration in a song that was written by Eugene Lockhart and Ernest Seitz during the 1918 pandemic. Shortly after World War I and in the middle of a serious pandemic, ‘The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise’ gave hope to people in difficult times. The song was later covered many times, by people like Benny Goodman and Les Paul and Mary Ford (who had a big hit with it: check the YouTube version to be impressed by Les Paul’s incredible guitar playing).
Dear one the world is waiting for the sunrise / Ev’ry rose is heavy with dew / The thrush on high, his sleepy mate is calling / and my heart is calling you
“But none of these upbeat and uplifting song versions resemble the way Cooper and Bradshaw treated the base material. You wouldn’t probably have recognized the original at all if you didn’t know. And I guess you probably won’t hear or see this version on prime-time radio/tv either.
“The 32-minute piece Sunrise is actually divided into three different parts. It opens with a gentle yet somewhat unsettling vocal soundscape of fragmented words from the original lyrics. This slowly gets more intense when low-pitched harmonics are introduced together with a somewhat ritualistic rhythm.
“Then, around the 10-minute mark, the style suddenly changes. The abstract vocal samples turn into voice loops that sounds like a more conventional ‘song’. The samples are looped and stacked together into an impressive choral piece demonstrating Bradshaw‘s vocal capabilities in full.
“Its prettiness, however, is deceiving: the ‘stacking’ of the loops relentlessly continues, building a sonic web from which escape is impossible. Ultimately, it climaxes into harsh waves of noise–which last quite a bit longer than is comfortable (just like the pandemic itself did, by the way). If you set the volume louder in the beginning to hear all subtle details, there is a chance that you (or your neighbors) may begin to regret that at this point!
“But there’s still the third and closing part to come. It offers the opportunity to regain yourself. The piece calms down again with a bright and hopeful piano theme—and floating (yet dissonant) vocals. Some of the distorted noise keeps intruding at intervals as if to remind us that danger still lurks around the corner. When the music falls silent, a few birds can still be heard–so all of this ends with of positive note (as did the original song). Nature will prevail. Probably.” —Peter van Cooten, AmbientBlog
“On his recent work Sunrise, a 32-minute composition created with vocalist Steven Bradshaw, Cooper echoes the range of emotions that seem to swirl through us all during every day of our pandemic reality. To do so, Bradshaw and Cooper looked back to the influenza pandemic of the early 20th century, landing on ‘The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise,’ a hopeful, yet mournful ballad . . . that has been recorded dozens of times over the past 100 years. Manipulating various recordings of that tune, including their own, Cooper and Bradshaw built Sunrise into a shattering work that evolves from honking weirdness into a darkly sinister middle section before slowly slipping into a frazzled acceptance through its glittering final minutes.” —The Voice of Energy
“A hundred years ago, the world was caught in the grip of a pandemic. Without TV or internet, lockdown was a lonely state. Radio was the place to turn for comfort, and a variety of composers attempted to capture the yearnings of the era. ‘The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise’ . . . has endured because its lyrics are affected by, but not restricted to, the influenza epidemic. Dear one, the world is waiting for the sunrise / Ev’ry rose is heavy with dew / The thrush on high his sleepy mate is calling / And my heart is calling you. The song’s first known recording is by Edward Allen, but new renditions have appeared every decade (Les Paul & Mary Ford, Willie Nelson, Jeff Beck). Each decade has carried its own crisis, and now history has come back around.
“Jacob Cooper and Steven Bradshaw have not so much covered the song as pull it apart like taffy, examine it, roll it out, and sprinkle it with new ingredients. Recording apart, the composers sent the files back and forth like digital letters until the cooking was complete. Their rendition is one 32-minute piece, unfolding in five movements. Echoes of the original song are sampled alongside other 20th century sonic ephemera.
“The work proceeds from ghostly to mesmerizing, accumulating a palpable psychic residue. As it begins in layered breath and fragment, the track seems less the work of a 20th century composer than a 21st century choreographer. The first (and only) verse is darkened and percussive, barely legible, like voices through choked tears. A deep bass growl occupies the second movement and vibrates like Tibetan chant. In the tenth minute, a pure choral voice arrives, intoning only a few syllables at a time. As the lyrics begin to loop and swirl, the work of Ian William Craig comes to mind. Cooper and Bradshaw call this their ‘favorite excerpt,’ and we agree. The intonations are gorgeous, stretching toward heaven, toward sunrise, toward the end of influenza, remembering the possibility of love on the horizon.
“Toward the end of this segment, a distracting drone swoops into the sonic field. What then disturbs our reverie? Soon the entire field is filled. A cloud of distortion descends, obliterating all within its wake. As intimidating and monstrous as it may seem, the drone does not last, and does not win—the lyrical undertone of ‘The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise,’ now embedded in an instrumental frame. A piano begins to lead the way from the underworld. The song returns, even slower this time. The darkness does not disintegrate, but is integrated. Light and dark fade into a minute of birdsong. What do the birds know of our troubles?
“When it’s all over, we feel like the composers comprehend our existential dilemma. Cooper and Bradshaw have drawn a line back to the prior century, highlighting human nature in a comforting manner. They’ve ‘covered’ a classic in a manner that no one has attempted before, making it their own while amplifying the emotional impact. The album’s subtle reminder is that love—not fear, not anxiety, not infighting—is our highest spiritual attribute.” —Richard Allen, A Closer Listen [Sunrise was one of A Closer Listen‘s 2021 Top Ten Experimental albums]
“When in early 2020 The String Orchestra of Brooklyn released its superb debut album afterimage (Furious Artisans), the work that registered most powerfully was Jacob Cooper’s Stabat Mater Dolorosa (2009). Fascinated by studies examining the time-slowing people experience during near-death situations, the composer applied a corresponding time-stretching treatment to the first movement of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, the result a mesmerizing twenty-eight re-imagining.
“A worthy complement to that creation is Sunrise, a kaleidoscopic, thirty-two-minute piece co-composed by Cooper and Steven Bradshaw. In contrast to the instrumental character of Stabat Mater Dolorosa, Sunrise makes full use of the vocal talents of Bradshaw. And so it should: he’s a founding member of The Crossing who’s also recorded and toured with Roomful of Teeth. One thing Sunrise shares with Stabat Mater Dolorosa, however, is a connection to an earlier work, in this case a song composed by Ernest Seitz and Gene Lockhart during the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, ‘The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise,’ and popularized by Django Reinhardt, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Willie Nelson, and others in the years following. With the 2020–21 pandemic still wreaking global havoc, the sentiment expressed by the song is obviously as relevant now as it was a century go.
“Just as strains of Stabat Mater re-surface within Stabat Mater Dolorosa, traces of ‘The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise’ re-emerge within Sunrise too. Cooper and Bradshaw deployed a file-sharing methodology to develop the work, with a soundscape sent by Cooper to the singer initiating the process. He then added vocal motives and effects before returning it to Cooper for further electronic manipulation. Their to-and-fro continued for a year, with Sunrise eventually crystallizing into a multi-layered creation. It’s primarily the collaborator’s baby, but pianist Dynasty Battles, violinist Clara Kim, and flutist Timothy Munro also contributed to its sound design.
“The work definitely calls upon Bradshaw’s vocal versatility and ingenuity . . . murmurings, babbling, scrapes, and screams, all of which Cooper underscores with a throbbing, billowing stream. Deep, guttural vocal expressions appear alongside soft, angelic utterances, with the co-creators exploiting the power of call-and-response and intricate polyphony during the work’s more spellbinding passages. At the thirteen-minute mark, for instance, Bradshaw’s plaintive voice multiplies into a hypnotizing tapestry whose intensity’s punctuated by the thrum of electronic waves rolling underneath and, like some horrifically howling behemoth, a scabrous convulsion that arises in its wake. Gradually calm establishes itself, with the scene shifting to shuddering noises accented by tinkling piano phrases. The listener perks up twenty-five minutes along when Bradshaw’s haunted delivery of the concluding verse is presented in a slowed-down manner reminiscent of Stabat Mater Dolorosa. Lyrics are included on the physical copy’s inner sleeve, yet while the words are often articulated clearly, voice is more typically used as a textural element.
“Though Sunrise incorporates acoustic sounds into its presentation, it’s nevertheless a more explicitly electronic-styled work than the earlier one. It’s no less fascinating a creation, however, and one that adds to the impression established by Stabat Mater Dolorosa of Cooper as a composer of exceptional imagination and certainly one worth following.” —Ron Schepper, Textura
“Sunrise is a new CD by Jacob Cooper and Steven Bradshaw. Jacob Cooper has a long and distinguished composing career including commissions by the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Eighth Blackbird, the Calder Quartet and others. His music has been performed by the JACK Quartet, the Minnesota Orchestra, Kathleen Supové, Timo Andres and many other well-known new music soloists and ensembles. Steven Bradshaw is a founding member of the two-time Grammy Award-winning ensemble The Crossing and has appeared with the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Bang on a Can and the Network for New Music. Bradshaw is also a visual artist whose work has appeared in galleries around the world. Additional musicians heard on this CD were Dynasty Battles, piano; Clara Kim, violin; and Timothy Munro, flute/piccolo.
“Consisting of a single 32-minute track, Sunrise is a contemporary electro-acoustic update of or allusion to the classic song ‘The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise.’ Some of us may remember the Les Paul and Mary Ford recording from the 1950s, but it was originally composed by Ernest Seitz and Gene Lockhart over 100 years ago, during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918–1920. The piece has subsequently had a long history of performances by artists ranging from Fritz Kreisler to Willie Nelson. Cooper and Bradshaw collaborated, back and forth, on the piece over the course of the pandemic year 2020, while isolated separately in quarantine. The composers write that ‘Sunrise emerged from a constant exchange of material: Steven would record melodies, improvisations, motifs, vocal scrapes, hisses, whispers and screams. Jacob would sonically manipulate them and generate new material, forging it all into a compositional framework.’
“The iterative nature of the composing process results in a layered texture that slowly changes its emotional surface as the piece unfolds. Soft buzzing and hissing open Sunrise and a series of quiet voices enter with an indistinct vocalise combined with sweet, sustained tones. What sound like male and female voices are heard separately with occasional sharp beats in the bass register. There is a prayerful, chant-like busyness of independent voices that are active but do not share the beat. At this point there are no clear melodic clues to the popular origin of Sunrise, but there is a general sense of well-being in the vocal harmonies amid the mysterious and ritualistic feel.
“At about five minutes, the bass beats are again heard, adding drama. Deep, processed male voices chanting in very low tones with unintelligible words enter, adding a faint sense of menace. By 11:00, a series of languid, interleaving vocal passages dominate that feature some really lovely harmonies and intelligible lyrics from the historical piece. The effect is soothing to the ear and full of reassurance.
“By 16:00, however, strong distortion and harsh buzzing have replaced the calming vocals, and there is a clear change of emotional direction. The feeling is now more intense and mechanical while a single voice struggles to be briefly heard above the sea of harsh sounds. The darkness of pandemic and isolation seem to be descending on the world. There is little consolation here, but plenty of negative emotion. The sounds are dissonant, distorted and grating to the ear. A scattering of plaintive vocals are heard, but these are all but buried in the sonic chaos.
“By 22:00 the voices fade away and the distortion becomes noticeably softer. Some light piano phrases enter as a repeating melody, becoming louder and more hopeful as the distortion diminishes. The voices now return in force, slowly chanting the familiar words of the original: ‘Dear one, the world is waiting for the sunrise…’ This adds to the sense of uplift as the piano line continues to spin out its optimistic melody. Even the distortion, now much reduced, seems to be contributing to the harmony of the lyrics. With a decrescendo, the voices, piano, and electronic distortion slowly fade away to finish the piece.
“There have been many virtual performances in the past months as a response to the conditions imposed by the pandemic. Less common, perhaps, are collaborative works like this one that have been created while the composers are in forced separation. Sunrise is a vivid narrative of the pandemic story—both then and now—artfully crafted and masterfully realized.” —Paul Muller, Sequenza21
“As in its time the tragedy of the demolition of the Twin Towers, so the recent pandemic and the lockdown that followed almost all over the world has touched the sensitivity of artists and composers, some of whom have tried to elaborate answers, and sometimes to offer consolations to the subsequent states of discomfort. In the case of this composition, Sunrise, born right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic—we are talking about summer 2020—the source of inspiration for the Cooper-Bradshaw duo was the song ‘The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise’ . . . It is a song that has been the subject of numerous interpretations, from Duke Ellington to Willie Nelson. However, far from producing a sort of new reinterpretation of the piece, the two authors worked—at a distance, as the situation obliged them—in a subliminal way on the melodic, harmonic, and textual material of the song. In its approximately 32 minutes of duration, Sunrise gradually develops starting from melodic and vocal fragments of various kinds, in some way linked to the song in question, which Steven Bradshaw recorded and shot to his partner Jacob Cooper, who elaborated on them through a parsimonious and emotional use of electronics, of rhythmic displacements, of repetition, of the isolation of sound and textual sequences, of the change of inflection. An original operation of de- and re-contextualization that proceeds—in a coherent and engaging way—through different phases, now introspective and melancholic, now more dense and material. What Sunrise leaves in the listener is a message of hope in the saving and consoling power of art, in this case music. Jacob Cooper (one of the most interesting and promising names in the collective of American composers “Sleeping Giant”) confirms himself, with this test (which follows the excellent releases for Nonesuch and New Amsterdam), a master in designing musical landscapes in whose vocal and electronic elements fit together and blend perfectly, and in which contemporary writing of post-minimalist matrix—one could think of Carl Stone as one of his ideal predecessors—meets pop sensibility, without either dimension prevailing over the other.”—Filippo Focosi, Kathodik (Italy)
“[Sunrise] is a work of collaboration. Bradshaw … sings, whispers, speaks, improvises, and . . . the opening passage of this piece contains those whispers, a lot of them, and soon more vocals are added. It all has a rather improvised feeling, but most enjoyable. Then slowly it builds, and I think of Thom Yorke’s voice, but there are also guitars and electronics in play now, and it is a post-rock feeling. The guitars slowly die out and are replaced by a piano motif that is, along with voice and guitar, the final of this great piece. At first I was thinking, ‘What the hell is this?’ but I am completely won over by it. . . . A beauty it is.” —Vital Weekly (Netherlands)
“The last 18 months, and in particular the last six, have predictably been riddled with releases whose liner notes and press releases come with some mention of the radical upheavals the pandemic has wrecked on the process of music-making. Pieces dealing with the themes and conditions of isolation, reflection, macro social issues and a reexamination of what it means to collaborate have been plentiful, but rarely have the distortions and gravity of our new reality felt palpable. Jacob Cooper and Steven Bradshaw’s remote collaboration here for Cold Blue is an exception. The approach was to utilize ‘The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise’ (1918), written by Ernest Seitz and Gene Lockhart during the last great global pandemic, underscoring the cyclical nature of human tragedy. In the liner notes they acknowledge how often the song has been performed throughout the 20th century, by artists ranging from Duke Ellington to Willie Nelson, and accentuate a commonality writing ‘Each performance seems framed by its own distinctive sense of calamity—one imagines the artists grappling with their generations’ darkest moments, while awaiting the relief of an awakening and rebirth.’ This interpretation carries with it an archival sifting, digging across time and performance to construct a thru-line. This attitude comes across in their collaborative process as well, which for the 32 minute piece demanded a year’s worth of trading fragments and scraps of performance information. Cooper performs the producer role, compiling scraps and collections of Bradshaw’s vocal performance along with a small ensemble and previously recorded versions of ‘The World is Waiting…’ into a high impact haptic sonic wave whose source material eludes recognition while being constantly present at the point of contact. After the wave crests, spectral subterranean polyrhythms bubble underneath a choir of voices, simmering in crystalline dissonance. The apocalyptic tone of the music is obvious without being cheap, laden with sadness and determination for the long slog ahead back to safety. This is music that is optimistic for nothing other than the creative possibilities inside of collapse and the spirit of renewal that demands hard, detailed work.”— Frank Meadows, Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter
“We need to create a new category of artistic manifestation, along the lines of ‘responses to the pandemic.’ This disc, sung by Steven Bradshaw and embellished by the electroacoustic work of Jacob Cooper, would fit. Bradshaw and Cooper played remote call and response over the course of several months until they were satisfied with the outcome.
“The title refers to an early 20th century popular song: “The World is Waiting for the Sunrise,” by Ernest Seitz and Gene Lockhart. . . . It seems to have been an anthem of hope during a dark era, as alluded to in the liner notes, the song was written during the Spanish influenza epidemic.
“This is no song cover: the closest analogy would be cantus firmus. The original lyrics, deconstructed or otherwise, are chanted at intervals throughout what amounts to a 32-minute meditation; they’re partially buried behind a more or less constant C Minor-ish drone. The events, or processes, develop gradually, but two-thirds of the way in the voice disappears into a burgeoning melee. The piano enters with a repeated motif that yearns toward G Minor. The voice returns as vocalise, soaring above on syllables from the original text, but barely recognizable. I’m reminded of Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach, another prayer for love in a dark time.
“There have been plenty of musical depictions of the sunrise, and this fits in that category as well. Essentially a long process piece that demands and rewards attention, even if it doesn’t offer consolation.” —Max Christie, TheWholeNote
“Ostensibly a CD single—a thirty-two-minute single at that—this beautiful and inventive piece of music developed over the course of a year from a repeated long distance back-and-forth between these two collaborators, each from their respective home bases in the US northeast. . . . The piece is evolutionary, and changes to the fabric of the piece are slow moving, with the exception being at that point where all the additional instrumentation comes in, and another point much later in the piece where all nearly fades to black for a moment; ideas do evolve slowly but at a pace that will hold the listener’s interest and attention throughout. It’s a truly engaging creation that will evoke many repeat plays.”—Exposé