Quatuor Bozzini. Tom Johnson: Combinations. Tom Johnson is a self-described minimalist composer, who has been credited with coining the term in the early ’70s while working as a music critic for the Village Voice. Johnson tends towards the formalistic extreme of minimalism; his works are often based on the mapping of[...] Read more

Recordings Lawrence Joseph

Eldritch Priest. Omphaloskepsis. The Greek word omphaloskepsis denotes the meditative practice of gazing at one’s navel. The word is well-chosen by composer and performer Eldritch Priest for the title of this creation.   A deceptively simple, monodic guitar line opens the first movement of the work.[...] Read more

Recordings Ian Crutchley Issue 142

Alejandro Morse, Cian, and Eduardo Padilla. Einath. Translating the ephemeral and serendipitous qualities of live, improvised collaboration onto a recording is like trying to capture lightning in a bottle. Those singular moments of intuitive interplay between performers are highly elusive and are sometimes diminished or entirely lost in the[...] Read more

Recordings Griffin Martell

Kee Avil. Crease. The sounds on Kee Avil’s debut full-length album Crease seem surrounded by acres of space; it’s as if the instruments are played in a subterranean cavern where you encounter each one separately before they join together into a loose ensemble of voice, guitar, percussion, and[...] Read more

Recordings Mary Dickie Issue 142

Joyfultalk. Familiar Science. Crousetown, Nova Scotia’s Jay Crocker revs up Joyfultalk for another kinetic record of rhythm and ooze. Whereas previous Joyfultalk outings have grown out of Crocker’s singular, often solitary practice of instrument-building (he calls his creations “compositional systems[...] Read more

Recordings Brennan McCracken Issue 142

Instruments of Happiness. Slow, Quiet Music in Search of Electric Happiness. Tim Brady is the artistic director of Instruments of Happiness, under which group name he leads various guitar ensembles of up to one hundred axes. This latest studio release is a collection of four works commissioned for guitar quartet. Each composer was asked to create a piece of approximately[...] Read more

Recordings Lawrence Joseph Issue 142

Double Review: Joane Hétu. Tags; Ensemble SuperMusique. Sonne l’image. Joane Hétu is the codirector of Montreal’s Ensemble SuperMusique (ESM), but that doesn’t mean she overloads the contemporary ensemble with her own works. She also composes for others. Each of these wide-ranging recordings contains only one Hétu–ESM[...] Read more

Recordings Ken Waxman Issue 142

Tanya Tagaq. Tongues. Anger is an energy, and it’s always been the fire that feeds Tanya Tagaq’s music. Even when she wordlessly roars or coos, shrieks, or wails, it’s impossible not to feel her incendiary rage vibrating in your gut and through you, along with all the pain and joy, fear, and love[...] Read more

Recordings Mary Dickie

Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Kaiser, Alex Varty. Pacifica Koral Reef. Trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith might be best known for his expansive celebrations of civil rights, Ten Freedom Summers and Rosa Parks: Pure Love; guitarist Henry Kaiser for his soundtracks for Werner Herzog films and underwater musical journeys to polar ice caps; and Alex Varty is[...] Read more

Recordings Stuart Broomer Issue 141

Allen Ravenstine. The Tyranny of Fiction. Allen Ravenstine is best known as the synth player of Cleveland proto-punk band Pere Ubu, yet his experimental work predates their 1975 debut single. When Pere Ubu pressed pause after its first two decades, Ravenstine stepped away from music to earn a pilot’s licence and focus on[...] Read more

Recordings Jesse Locke Issue 141

Jessica Pavone. Lull. Jessica Pavone’s new album is a close-range recording of her four-movement work Lull for string octet and soloists. Knowing only that Pavone is a violist and composer, I embarked unencumbered by preconceptions on a first listen to the work’s earnest, pulsing waves. The musicians[...] Read more

Recordings Jennifer Thiessen Issue 141

Christopher Otto. Rag’sma. Microtonal tuning systems have provided the underlying architecture for some of the most intriguing and sumptuous works of the past century; yet even among adventurous listeners, there is still some prejudice about these approaches. In the press release accompanying his debut release as a[...] Read more

Recordings Nick Storring Issue 141